Meaningful connections:
Exploring the uses of telematic technology in performance

Elena Pérez

Department of Art and Media Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.

Keywords: Artistic intention, telematics, high-tech, low-tech, juxtapositions, collaboration


Telematic or networked performance is an art form that emerged in the 1980s that applies telecommunication technology to performance. Today, there are typically two versions: high-tech and low-tech. Hi-tech telematic performance has been criticised for focusing on developing the technical and dismissing the aesthetic, by merely displaying the telematic connection in a theatrical manner. In this article, we will look at performance works that go beyond the mere technological display of the connection and examine what the technology is being used for in aesthetic terms.

We will conduct a comparative analysis of two low-tech telematic performances that represent two large trends of practices within the field. On the one hand, the performance ON LOVE (2013) by Dutch visual artist Annie Abrahams uses telematics to create visual and dramaturgical juxtapositions. On the other hand, the performance make-shift (2012) by British theatre directors Helen Varley Jamieson and Paula Crutchlow uses telematics to engage remote audiences into active participation and collaboration. Through the analysis, we will be able to identify the purpose behind the technology while bringing forward the artistic strategies that are being used and this will help us develop an aesthetics of telematic performance.

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Elena Pérez is a researcher, theatre practitioner and experimental game designer. She is doing her PhD (2009-2014) in the department of Art and Media Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), where she is looking at how digital media impacts contemporary performance, more specifically, how digital media challenge theatrical conventions in multimedia theatre, telematic and pervasive performance.

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