We all take pictures, don’t we? Keepsakes to remind us of happy times, landmark events, loved ones? And with our phones always on hand and Facebook always online, we’re sharing astonishing amounts of photos and films with each other every day.
The same sort of thing is going on in the performing arts, of course.
We can film and photograph pretty much everything, so we do – because we need rich content for our social media marketing campaigns, because we need evidence for funders, because we want to sell DVDs of performances as part of a diverse income stream, because we want to make souvenirs for participants, because we need to show something new on the plasma screens in our foyers…
… because because because…
When this particular marketeer started working in theatre in the mid-1990s, much of the value of live performance was ascribed to its changeability. In a run of 60 performances of the same show, no two nights are quite the same – each audience would have a subtly (or not-so-subtly) unique experience. Therein lay one of the strengths of live performance versus, say, television.
And now we capture a ‘definitive’ version. We can edit out its imperfections. It becomes a hermetically sealed version of itself, available to everyone, for all time. It stops being something we remember, and becomes something we almost re-experience.
This is all great for the marketing department with their campaigns and income streams, but what are artists to make of it? What do YOU make of it?
As Wendy Houstoun, Alexander Kelly, Vivien Wood and others prepare to discuss Memory, Archive and the Act of Recording for Juncture 2014, we’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Are we saving our most precious cultural experiences from vanishing? Or are we in danger of documenting our art to death?