I lead the DocPerform project with my colleague Dr Lyn Robinson. The third event in our symposia series looked at concepts of the postdigital and technological immersion.
The full version of my paper can be read on the DocPerform website.
The real world, as we experience it today, is intimately connected with technological mediation. Drawing on theories of post-humanism, onlife, the infosphere, and audience participation, this paper addresses how the cultural, social and political beliefs of participants in immersive theatre can be trans-ed. The relationality inherent in the term trans- refers to the complex web of connections participants navigated and created in the performances Operation Black Antler by Blast Theory and Hydrocracker and One Day, Maybe by dreamthinkspeak. The dramaturgies in both pieces were experienced as a network of bodies, times, historical and national narratives. In this paper I will explore how trans- offers a strategy of performative political discourse where (sexual, gender, racial, etc.) identities become dramaturgically fluid and unfixed, and if such a mode of participation can effectuate a form of dialectic that is contingent on participating in acts of empathy rather than of conflict. A corollary to this process can be found in Luciano Floridi’s conceptualisation of contemporary technological environment, which he terms the infosphere (2014). The production and dissemination of media acts as the diffuse infrastructure of the infosphere and replicates our presence across platforms and communication networks. The compulsion to connect with realities and experiences outside of our everyday life allows us to stretch our real self and play identities as a means of establishing empathetic relations with histories, ideas and people; this is the core principle of trans-participation. I contend that audience participation in the context of the infosphere and onlife – where the digital and the real worlds become a seamless experience – complicate rhetorically crude conceptions of post-truth and fake news by allowing people to play identities drawn from media.