Monday, 2 January 2012

Acoustic Performance 2: The Future

My previous post is simply a revisiting of an old theme - the impossibility of replicating acoustic (musical) performance. There is little more to be said.

It comes as I stopped to consider other intermediary/media dependent art. For example, I find it very difficult to buy into the process of motion capture, or as it has recently been re-monikered, performance capture in animated film production whereby screen actors have their features and performances rendered in digital graphics (interestingly I find characters created digitally from scratch and voiced by actors much easier to stomach). Indeed Tacita Dean's installation for the Tate Modern turbine hall is a piece not only created in celluloid but also about the basic medium of film, looking back with a conservationist's vigilance at the art of capturing images rather than the digital transcription of them.

Equally, the upcoming Damien Hirst retrospective designed to coincide with the cultural periphery of the Olympic Games reheats not only old arguments about the aesthetics of the most recent movement in British art, the YBAs, but also asks thorny questions about the creation of the works that constititue the canon. This morning there is a story that newly appointed OM David Hockney, via his own upcoming RA show has taken a swipe at Hirst for failing to have a hand in the execution of works to which he puts his name.

The warning noises created by the likes of Hockney and Dean demand attention. Yet, at the same time, we can find a proliferation in the use of live performance relay. The broadcasting of theatre, opera, dance and the like has never been so easy, widespread and immediate: last summer I watched (part of!) a live performance of Glyndebourne's Meistersinger on my desktop computer at home with entirely acceptable picture and sound, perfect synchronisation and no 'buffering' glitches. As the ubiquity of access via digital media means that you can see almost anything at any time, the necessity of having acoustic-dependent performance confined to a single auditorium space means that such performances are comparatively non-existent. Relays, broadcasts, documentaries and other media which bring audiences into the space - however synthetic an experience of the art that may be - is the manner in which to keep the door open, to advertise the presence of the art and to educate the public as to what they might expect. The experience remains another thing altogether but the use of digital media is essential now as it is no longer simply a phenomenon of interest but the vernacular.

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