DocPerform 2: New Technologies

I have a longstanding interest in documents and documentation, and so I am very happy that our DocPerform project will host a second Symposium over Nov 6th – 7th 2017. We are keen to hear from anyone thinking outside the box with regard to the documentation of performance; what could we do with new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, with the multisensory internet, and with new human computer interfaces?

We are looking for ideas for a range of papers and other activities.

Call for Papers

DocPerform Logo 2

DocPerform 2: New Technologies
Call for papers 2017

https://documentingperformance.com

Instead of focusing on the impermanence of live, embodied acts, it is far more useful to think of the live and the recorded as mediums that facilitate communication between spectators and performers; both of these groups oscillate between the roles of receivers and transmitters of information over the duration of a performance.

Joseph Dunne, Regenerating the Live: The Archive as the Genesis of a Performance Practice, 2015

Our second Symposium considers how new technologies enhance our understanding of performance as a document, and the documentation of performance.

Following our successful launch last year, the DocPerform team are delighted to announce our second symposium that will take place over 6th and 7th November at City, University of London.

DocPerform is an interdisciplinary research project led by scholars and practitioners from the fields of performing arts and library & information science. The project concerns conceptual, methodological and technological innovations in the documentation of performance, and the extent to which performance may itself be considered to be a document.

Provoking audiences or even just trying to reach them one-to-one clashes with what has become a signature of the digital, the ideal of a networked, collective intelligence

Patrick Longeran, Theatre & the Digital, 2014

Advances in technology including 360° recording, binaural sound, virtual reality, augmented reality, multisensory internet, pervasive computing and the internet of things, have revolutionised the way we interact with the digital world. These technologies have brought about a convergence of eBooks, interactive narratives, video games, television programming, video and films, so that previous boundaries of document categories are no longer meaningful.

As our understanding of, and interaction with documents is evolving, so are the ways in which we can experience, record and remember performance. Technology is the means by which we create new documents, and also the means by which we can record, preserve, access and replay them.

A participatory story or experience (fiction or fact-based) is one in which the ‘reader’ moves beyond a passive experience of the text and becomes an active participant.

Lyn Robinson, Multisensory, Pervasive, Immersive: Towards a New Generation of Documents, 2015

Technology allows us not only to create, experience and re-experience new types of digital documents, but also to record and re-experience analogue events which are demanding of temporal and locational parameters, from our children’s birthday parties, through rock concerts, to dance and theatre.

Two key elements are participation and immersion; the former implies the degree of agency experienced, whilst the latter is the extent to which unreality is perceived as reality. These elements are facilitated by technologies such as transmedia and pervasive computing, VR and AR, wherein readers/observers or audience members experience a high level of ‘presence’, and can readily switch between the role of observer, participant or creator.

These developments compel us to investigate how performance documentation will evolve in terms of changing audience and readership behaviours. Moreover, the means by which theatre and dance are produced will inevitably have to respond to the burgeoning demands of online participatory culture beyond existing documentation techniques.

DocPerform 2 invites submissions for papers, performative papers, subjects for plenaries, workshop activities, or “provocations” from scholars and artists working in the areas of performance documentation, digital arts, library & information science, social media technologists, internet archaeology, audience participation, immersive theatre, and archives. We are especially interested in works relating to dance and theatre.

We anticipate that formal papers will last for 20 mins, including questions, but we are open to suggestions for the timing of other activities. By extending the symposium to 2 days, we are allowing more time for discussion, networking and planning.

Topics for activities may include but are not limited to:

Theme 1: Technological Concepts

  • Why do we document performance? Who are we documenting for?
  • Performance as a document, documents as performance
  • What is missing in our current documentation, the records and archives of performance?

Theme 2: Technologies for Creation

  • Innovative use of technology to create performance
  • Distributed or diffuse performance systems using transmedia technologies
  • Performance created using social media
  • Online performances

Theme 3: Technologies for Documentation

  • Innovative use of technology in recording, preserving and re-experiencing performance
  • The potential functions of performance documentation beyond creating a record of evidence (new works, remixing)
  • Approaches to exceeding the document as a record of evidence
  • Models of documenting using interactive interfaces
  • Documentation systems that incorporate user-generated interfaces
  • Potential role of archivists, documentalists and information professionals in theatre and dance production processes

Theme 4: Technologies for the Audience

  • Changing readership/audience behaviours in the context of digital culture
  • Models of audience participation online platforms
  • Elisions between spectator/performer, author/reader

Theme 5: Technologies of the Imagination

  • Offline/online/onlife…what next?

Please send suggestions/abstracts, plus 100 word biography, to both Lyn and Joe [lyn@city.ac.uk, jjd201@gmail.com] by Friday September 15th. Submissions should be no longer than a single page of A4. Authors of successful submissions will be notified in early October 2017. The selection panel will comprise members of the DocPerform Team.

Abstracts for accepted presentations will be published on our website around the time of the Symposium. Full papers of accepted presentations will be considered for publication after the event. We are interested to hear from open access publications interested in working with us.

Fashion Digital Memories, IUAV, Venice, May 22-23 2017

Fashion Digital Memories

X-ray imaging. Slide shown by Tim Long, @Fashion_Curator, Fashion Digital Memories, 22-23 May, Venice. Photo by @lynrobinson cc-by

I was lucky enough to be able to attend Fashion Digital Memories 2017, the Europeana Fashion Symposium 2017 organised by the Europeana Fashion International Association in collaboration with Università IUAV di Venezia and The New School – Parsons Paris. The Symposium explored the ways in which fashion archives are experimenting with, and utilising, digital technologies to enhance the record and the reader/visitor experience.

The presentations reminded us of websites which furnish the reader with rotatable, high-definition images of garments, contextual video, and text descriptions, but also showcased more innovate technologies such as those using X-ray images, which provide additional ways to explore and interpret fashion items, and which also stand as new forms of art in themselves.

The three main protagonists of the conference seemed to be (1) fashion house archives (e.g. Versace), (2) academic institutions (eg London College of Fashion, Humboldt University) and (3) significant national collections (eg MoMa, Museum of London, V&A).

Especially interesting was the keynote given by Tim Long (@Fashion_Curator), from the Museum of London. Tim outlined some of the innovative projects he was involved with, which moved beyond collecting and conservation, to explore the boundaries of fashion heritage. The role of digital recording in stimulating new ideas, innovation and creativity was paramount. The challenges inherent in capturing both material and immaterial memories was raised.

Sadly, LIS was represented only through the archive profession, although much of the material dealt with core LIS issues: how to classify items, how to use a consistent vocabulary/terminology for description, what facets are appropriate for the subject, what kind of metadata is useful, how best to use linked data, and how to make digital materials available for both experts and casual users.

There was also an emphasis on UX – in particular the idea that, for casual museum/gallery visitors entertainment must come first, and information can follow for those interested. The tendency of information professionals to want to make all their material available up front should be resisted – it should be there for those who need it, but for most people a sample of exciting/pleasing material will be enough. Experiences and encounters with archive/museum materials should be ‘delightful’. The essential need for any material to be designed for mobile technology was also emphasised, and parallels could readily be drawn with the library world; readers/visitors/audiences have high expectations borne from multimedia, snippeted and mobile informational encounters.

This is often at odds with the scholarly approach taken by traditional academics, librarians, curators and archivists. There is a contemporary need however, to make collections viable financially, and culturally available and of interest to the widest possible number of people.

Also mentioned was use of standard vocabularies – Iconclass, Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus, Getty Index of Names, OCLC’s Virtual International Authority File for names. The limitations of these vocabularies for fashion was evident. Research detailed some attempts to extend them, eg adding multilingual fashion terms to AAT, but there was also a tendency to invent local vocabularies.

Fashion clearly has a strong facet structure, though expressed slightly differently, e.g. form/shape/pattern and form/material/pattern

Video guides to collection items, on YouTube, are popular. These may be best without audio, using simple captions – so that they can be accessed anywhere when audio may not be acceptable without headphones, which helps those who first language is not English

Kate Bethune (@BethuneKate) from the Victoria and Albert Museum described the wide use of digital technologies in the recent Alexander McQueen exhibition, Savage Beauty, including digital storytelling, digital ‘cabinet of curiosities’ Pepper’s Ghost and immersive sound.

Newer use of digital technologies included x-ray imaging followed by digital enhancement, deep zoom imaging,  digital garment creation from digital pattern pieces, inclusion of digital artworks (especially for preservation/reconstruction), and outreach via social media.

Overall, I thought about documents and documentation. Specifically, the similarities between attempts to document fashion with attempts to document performance. Why are we documenting, and who for? What is missing from our record?

Somewhat surprisingly, none of the presentations reference VR/AR, which seems an area which could offer much to the realms of archiving and documentation in general, and perhaps fashion, specifically.

I wondered if garmets, and their associated archives, could benefit conceptually from Buckland’s documentation theory – if we think of ‘document’ very broadly (i.e. the item of clothing as a document), we can consider firstly the physical attributes of the garment, and then subsequently, our personal interpretation or understanding of/from the garment as a document, and finally the socio-cultural meaning and impact of the garment.

There is more to fashion than looking good.

A wonderful symposium. Many thanks to organisers and sponsors.: “Europeana Fashion International Association in collaboration with Università IUAV di Venezia and The New School – Parsons Paris. The event was co-funded by the European Commission within the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Programme.”

Further Reading:

Buckland, M. (2017). Information and Society. MIT Press.

Europeana Fashion

Long, TA. (2015) Charles James, Designer in Detail, V & A publishing.

Memories from ‘Fashion Digital Memories’ – Europeana Fashion Symposium 2017

Robinson, L (2017). Storify of Fashion Digital Memories.

Van Hooland, S and Verborgh, R (2014). Linked Data for Libraries, Archives and Museums. Facet.