Media, performance, and pastpresents: authenticity in the digital age

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5 Scopus citations


The importance assigned to the distinction between live and mediated performances is influenced by historical circumstances. Performance is often assumed to be something that can only be authentic if experienced live, yet mediated performances have the ability to disrupt this assumption in two primary ways: by creating a “shared,” though asymmetric, experience and by imploding the idea of a “live” original performance to be recorded. In this paper we bring Walter Benjamin’s concepts of aura and authenticity into conversation with Katie King’s theorizations of reenactments to explore how mediated experiences can still constitutes authentic, “shared” performance. That is, we deploy the concept of the pastpresent to problematize, complicate, and begin to break down the assumed division between live and mediated performance based on Benjamin’s ideas of aura and authenticity. As we’ll discuss, what makes this especially interesting is the relationship between space and time in mediated performances. We illustrate this basic argument using three examples: (1) dance through the medium of film; (2) street performance through the medium of the internet; and (3) pop music through the medium of digitally recorded music. In all cases, the “authenticity” of the mediated performance is based on the imagined authenticity of its first rendering, thus the viewer/listener becomes an active participant in making meaning out of the past, in the present. The changing relationships between space, time, and authenticity within performance are important for understanding how their audiences experience modern mediated performances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-819
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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