Philip Auslander: Performance in a Mediatized Culture

Screens.  At one time, their sole purpose was to shield one’s private life from public glances.  Now, screens are the omnipresent medium through which we spend an astonishing part of our private lives viewing public “performances.” The same multimedia distribution and recording technology that first permitted us to “go to the theater” in our slippers and pajamas – aka the “home theater” – has ended up reconstituting our understanding of live performance.  For example, whereas multimedia first attempted to “televise” the experience of a live theater performance, the theater performance now tries to emulate the screen experience.  So, why do all live performances now kowtow to the screen?  Because if it doesn’t look like the screen, we don’t perceive it to be truly live.  And why does any of this even matter?  Because the screen subtly takes control of our reality while not permitting dialogue or even exit (who leaves their most intimate space because they don’t agree with what they see on their smartphone?).  Small wonder, then, that advertisers pay exorbitant fees to get onto our screens.  “Hyperreality”, as one theorist calls it, is a force that humanity has yet to come to terms with and may be a cultural challenge in need of urgent attention.  Philip Auslander, Professor of Performance Studies and Popular Musicology at Georgia Tech, know the perils of the screen better than anyone else.  He first published his research on this phenomenon in Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture during the television era and, now, in the middle of the smartphone era, has just released the book’s Third Edition.  Come welcome Philip to our show and he will be our guide to understanding how the screen usurped reality.

WATCH IT ON: YouTube / Facbook

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