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Data sheet (Event):

Documentation & live art practices - Convivencia: Symposium (Preston, England, February 3 2007)

Title of event
Convivencia: A One Day Symposium
Start date
February 3, 2007
End date
February 3, 2007
Event location
University of Central Lancashire, Preston England
Type of event
Participation method
2- Documentation of media art

Observer: Tagny Duff

Organized by Dr. Paul Stapleton (Associate Researcher, Electronic Digital Arts Unit, University of Central Lancashire)

Featuring Michael Mayhew (Honorary Associate Artist, National Review of Live Art), Dr. Simon Ellis (University of Northampton), Robin Feeny (Concordia University) , Dr. Fiona Wright (Independent artist-researcher) Jon Aveyard (UCLAN, audio installation) and Prof. Susan Melrose (Middlesex University, not in attendance)

This symposium brought together artist-researchers from the UK, Australia and Canada who engage in various ways with live art and media documentation practices. The focus of discussion was how to remember and document live performance and archive its traces. Stapleton noted in the introduction to the event that historically, performance documentation has often been characterised as an unfaithful representation of the live art experience. However, in recent years the relationship between documentation and live art practices has moved towards reconciliation. The performative presentations at the symposium reflected diverging perspectives on the implications of the mediation of memories of live events through media documentation. Presenters addressed the topics of electronic media (such as video, web user generated content and wikis) in live art practices, documenting performance and as platforms for performances of the future.

Simon Ellis, an interdisciplinary performance-based artist, choreographer and dancer opened the symposium with the performative lecture FIXATE. He noted the current fetishization of documenting live events. In particular, Ellis stated the importance of thinking through the philosophical and artistic implications of liveness in relation to digital and web based media. As an example of documentation of dance, Ellis presented a web-based archives of dance documents in dad.project, a MSQL based website utilizing a RSS feed and user-interface. Ellis explained how the site allows the web participant to upload documents into the archive, which can then be animated by web participants as they scroll over the images, thereby creating another Òlive performance. The dad.project, among other projects on his site, intend to subtly undermine the deeply embedded hierarchy in which the live body is considered to be the acme of performance practice.

Robin Feeny continued to question the ontological privilege of the live body in performance. She explored the potential of activating performance documents through duration, rather than temporality, such as chronological taxonomies, often used to frame time-based media. The potential of anomaly, or creative error to occur in the processual migration of live art documentation from analog to digital was explored in the representation of a retrospective online exhibition of Canadian artist, Tagny Duff ( Feeny exemplified this point when she confessed to the symposium audience after thirty minutes that she was actually Tagny Duff. Duff explained how repurposing archival images of works by artists such as Adrian Piper, Gathie Falke, Vincent Trasov, Eric Metcalfe, and Intermedia by Photoshopping her own documentation enabled the construction of a believable epistemological and ontological history based on an impossible timeline and authorship. Duff called for a re-assessment of creative lying, error and authorial hoax as a form of ontogenesis; a necessary movement that generates anomaly and mutation, often wittingly and unwittingly employed in documentation and conservation practices.

Fiona Wright picked up the theme of lying in her lecture paper and presentation: Notes on Lying and Syncope. Wright explored how indexing, as a form of taxonomy, betrays its own lie- as the stable and complete mapping of meaning is in constant flux. Wright problematized the indexing of her own body as live and present, by embodying the spacing and lags in the articulation of voice and gesture. This was exemplified through various actions including laying on the floor while writing, singing into a mic while unclothed, and moving out of sync to a prerecorded version on video of the same choreographed movements. Wright called for embodying both betrayal and fidelity as a form of liveness - a sentiment that was echoed in the previous two presentations.

Michael Mayhew ended the event with a presentation of an archive of objects from his coat pockets. He recalled stories associated with each object emphasizing the lapses and unexpected recall of memories. Then, in a playful response to the ever-present PowerPoint presentation and computer laptops, Mayhew proceeded to show blank PowerPoint slides as he discussed their (ir)relevance to his practice and history as a performance artist. Then, he expressed his gratitude to the conference presenters and audience with much respect and warmth, exchanged his calling card, and departed from the hall. Mayhew reminded us that oral tradition, as a mode of documentation, is a large part of performance/live art practices that must also be acknowledged in archiving practices.

Live Archives: A collaborative live event documentation platform
Online (Page consulted March 30)
Public domain of contemporary art
Online (Page consulted March 30) Simon Ellis
Online (Page consulted March 30)

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