A Mediated Performance Conference :: Jason Sweeney/Unreasonable Adults

1 & 2 December, 2005, School of Media, Film & Theatre, University of NSW, Australia

An international symposium designed to address cross-and multidisciplinary investigations of issues around media/technology-based performance. So, this is what we (Unreasonable Adults) came for. But, really, where was the performance? Where was the liveness (both in practice and in spirit?). Everything seemed kind of dead here, lost its punch, like all these academics had fallen into some malaise of over-comfortable office positions, resting upon laurels based on a lexicon only the initiated can understand. I get really hot and bothered being a delegate and presenter at these things. But we came here as Unreasonable Adults (a live performance ensemble) to present a version of our live work, The End of Romance. So my feelings were centred around this: this search for liveness, risk, accessibility to a relatively abstract and elite form, and a passion. But instead I found very litte guts, mostly flab.

Hello. My name is Jason. I am an Unreasonable Adult. And this is my iBook. It’s got a 600MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 256MB Memory, 12” screen, currently running OSX 10.2.8. Old before its time. Recently I had an airport wireless card installed which means I can now hack into networks and siphon off the net-waves of my home-town. Thankyou.

In my paper notebook, a scattering of random thoughts of various talks by a multitude of on-and off-site presenters, pretty much a bunch of researchers and hard-core academics who rarely gave much away and kept a lot to themselves. Thesis after thesis presented and not much to show (me) at the end of it. Philip Auslander alerts us (via teleconferencing) to a possible decline in the need for humans to make things and realise them. Degrees of technical skill to be assessed: dexterity, exactness, duplication, function. Do robots do it better? Do robots make (for) better art? A table that chases punters around a gallery room does seems appealing. But I guess someone (a human) needed to make that table and programme it to chase someone. And someone needs to be in the room to be chased. Machines as performers, rehearsed through circuit board definition. Humans made to do stuff by another person or (to) each other. We Unreasonable Adults prefer the latter.

In her rather unclear and seemingly lost presentation, Michaela Reiser began by spitting out a whole of definitions that could be attached to this amorphous thing called ‘mediatised performance’. Myself, I’m just going with the inter-artist thing cos isn’t just funding bodies that define us? Michaela talked about coping strategies but she didn’t seem to be coping too well herself. She was demonstrating audible bodies that seemed like the theremin all over again. Which is cool, but how does it work and why bother? Friends of mine can whip up a theremin in a couple of hours and it does the same thing pretty much. All this talk about intimacy and engagement and yet there was really nothing of the sort in any of what Michaela had to say and it really made me a bit sad. She seemed so distant.

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