Locative Media as a Solution to the Crisis in Theatre
A crisis often foreshadows a shift or indicates a need for change. In the theatre’s case, the crisis is a reflection of undergoing changes in its form. Perhaps the general categorization of theater, performance and art needs to be reinvented to accommodate new media technologies.
Technology offers practical and intuitive knowledge; I believe it also enables a deep exploration of the human spirit and intuition. This exploration is achievable, for instance, through participation in a development of individual experiences in public spaces – a locative media performance.
Unquestionably, Situationism has had an enormous influence on locative media practice; however, I believe there has been an overdetermination of Deborg’s Dérive theory in this practice. Therefore, I would call for a different interpretation of locative media as relying not only on Situationism, but also on twentieth-century theatre theory and on the relatively recent trend of “flashmobs”.
Some locative media artworks touch upon our unconscious in a way that stimulates our ability to synthesize and create analogies. Everyday tools such as GPS tracking devices for instance, are explored on different levels in locative media art, thus enabling free exercise of thought. This is one of the reasons why I think locative media art comprises some of the points brought to light by Artaud in The Theater and Its Double.
At the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, one can see theatre as an integral part of daily life, due to numerous spheres of activity that engage this practice. We live in a media-spectacle, where the borders between theatre and reality have almost vanished: several politicians could be considered performers, real-life dramas take over the first pages of the newspapers, and religion, more than providing spiritual experiences, has taken on theatrical traits.
In an opposite direction, theatre practice is undergoing a crisis and the number of spectators is decreasing. Being interested in this issue, I started looking for the characteristics of this crisis and for possible solutions.
One might wonder why I, as a master student in New Media, chose to explore this issue. To be honest, theatre has always been a passion of mine, along with new media. Thinking about a way of combining the two, I came up with the following research questions: Can new media technologies and practices help resolve the crisis in theatre? How could they work together?
Locative media art is a new way of experiencing life’s magic: it is a theatre of action and awareness as Julian Beck and Judith Malina wished for The Living Theatre, it awakes the senses and enables physical involvement as Artaud envisioned for The Theatre of Cruelty, it facilitates interaction between the performer and the audience as in street theatre, and the participant is always in the center, enveloped by the experience – this resembles the experience of flashmobs.