Technologically‑mediated theatre makes the resources of performance—the ability to model social relations and critique them, reflect mental constructs and mottle them—available again, in a new way. Media theatre not only incorporates frames as frames within the frame (the proscenium arch); it exerts a pressure on the space of the stage, and begs the question of the place of place in ‘telematic society,’ a term I borrow from Czech philosopher Vilm Flusser. In his 1985 Into the Universe of Technical Images (first published in English in 2011), Flusser offers a conceptual archaeology of the space of Western thought from the Pleistocene to the near‑future that explores the effect of increasing levels of abstraction on how humans relate to their environment and to each other. Importantly, he uses various performance traditions to develop his arguments. I will be examining his use of these forms from a performance studies perspective while discussing the work of intermedial pioneer Robert Whitman, whose work interestingly complicates Flusser’s idea of telematics. Media culture evacuates place, merges all places in a continuous corporate mediaverse, the debased residue of four‑dimensional concrete existence (of pre‑historic, pre‑literate humans). But in this zero‑dimensional surface‑life (Flusser calls it ‘visionary, superficial thinking’) of our digital near‑future, performance might remain a key ‘terrain’ for negotiating and interrogating the new spaces of telematic society.
- Andrew Starner, New York University Abu Dhabi, AE