Abstract- The Performative Turn in New Media: A Critical History

While the performative turn (Victor Turner) that ushered in the field of performance studies some 25 years ago also now seems a logical step as digital media increasingly embraces the dynamic, ephemeral, real time event that has always characterized and, at the same time, differentiated performance from the static objecthood of the visual arts, there has been at present, a curious lack of histories detailing the seminal influence of theater, dance, opera, music and other genre defying performative gesamtkunstwerken on the development of new media theory and practice. Whether through the integration of newsreel films into constructivist mise en scène in 1920s Russia or the deployment of sensing systems to turn theater, dance and even architecture into play between humans and electronics, the history of performance has always been entangled with our fascination with mediation and machines.This paper aims to examine the potentially fruitful role that performance, as both a set of practices steeped in a fundamentally embodied and material worldviewand a conceptual and physical site for the deployment of technologies to mediate and shape viewer/participant affect, could play in enriching our present and future concepts and practices in the arena of new media.