A Mediated Performance Conference :: Kerrin Rowlands/Unreasonable Adults

1 & 2 December 2005, School of Media, Film & Theatre, University of NSW, Australia The opportunity to attend the e-performance & Plug-ins – A Mediated Performance Conference and perform The End of Romance was enormously exciting for our artist collective, Unreasonable Adults. International symposiums designed to address multidisciplinary art, performance and technology/media are rare in Australia, indeed the world. Having participated independently in a number of such festivals and conferences in Europe, I felt the need for us, as one of the few collectives of live artists in Australia, to participate.

Unreasonable Adults performances have always worked to investigate issues around media/technology and performance and audience. Our work is our practice, and whilst we constantly discuss and theorize throughout our development stages, the theory, we hope, is in the practice. E-performance & Plug-ins – A Mediated Performance Conference proved to be an academics conference, with little, if any, performance focus. Speakers discussed issues of ‘being live’, questioning the necessity of the live body in performance. One of the more interesting examples was Meredith Morse’s insightful presentation on the pioneering live art collective of late 1960’s, Judson Memorial Church. There were international conference calls with Philip Auslander alerting us to a possible decline in the need for humans to make things and realise them. The irony, I felt, was the amount of conference time it took to wait for these link ups to ‘connect’, the fragility of their connections, the delays, and the way information is transferred when the physical is missing. We sat as a bunch of naughty school kids being able to pick our noses without the ‘monitor’ seeing… There was a similar sense of the ridiculous in the audience of Helen Sky’s performance beamed in from London. The most interesting aspects for me from these situations of linking up and webcasting are; The audience: How are they implicated? Do they just watch? Why watch it in a theatre? What would happen if the audience walked out, screamed out, someone died? The mistakes: How are they incorporated? There was an overriding distance and coldness in the discussion of the live body and technology that removed the humanness (emotion, thought, feelings) from the work. I found this to be terrifying and frustrating. I equated it to a fear of the ‘person’ being present, and the body being placed and directed in a post modern concept of ‘bones and sinews in space’.

In an attempt to directly reflect the environment, Unreasonable Adults presented a version of The End of Romance in the form of conference table/artist-talk set up complete with introductory power point presentation. We introduced our various computer tech specs, (in my case a description of a Dictaphone), which the conference audience found entertaining. We then gradually unraveled ourselves and our specs in a bright palette of text, movement, costumes, music and imagery. Even though our work has been built around mediated forms and remote communications our presence is still toying with theatre, dance and visual art, working closely with human emotions, body/social politics. In this sense our bodies (ourselves) play a central role. In discussion with artists at the conference I had the sense that there was an aversion to, or distain for incorporating the murky themes of the self with the cleanliness and finesse of technology.

This conference was an important and insightful event to attend. I gained a better awareness of many artists practicing in the field of live art, media based performance in Australia. It was a wonderful opportunity for Unreasonable Adults to present work to a broad national, and international audience. Whilst the manner in which the subject was explored and presented did not engage me in a positive sense, it was a constructive experience from which I have reflected well on and gained much.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply