AffiliationUniversity of Lincoln
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AbstractThe presence of the performing body is central to the experience of live art. It is this distinctive quality that enables an audience to engage with an unmediated work that incorporates contingencies of site and response. In this paper we will discuss two works by Bartram O’Neill (the authors’ collaborative name) that address the myth of presence through an interrogation of ‘liveness’ and what it constitutes in art practice when reliant on technological means. In 2013 Bartram O’Neill performed "I, I am, I am here, I am speaking here" as part of Performa 1, Art Basel Miami (USA). This was performed remotely, from the U.K. through two ‘bodies’ in Miami. Unlike the theatrical tradition of script, rehearsal, interpretation etc. this work required these ‘bodies’ to act as channels and ‘puppets’ for the performers in the UK. Using text messaging and Skype, the UK based ‘performers’ and authors of the work communicated to the audience in Miami through their Miami based translators. Meanwhile the UK authors listened to the performance through a telephone connection with an audience member, and thereby being both performers and audience of their work. Bartram O’Neill participated in “O/R” in the streamed Low Lives 4 Networked Performance Festival. From an empty gallery in Nottingham, UK, the pair performed at 2am GMT to an open laptop on the floor, reaching audiences in the USA, Japan, Trinidad & Tobago, Australia, France, Colombia, Norway, and Aruba, between 8- 9pm the calendar day before, depending on location. These works incorporated not just distance, but also time difference - in the former the performers were in a living room surrounded by their diurnal domestic trappings and in the latter they performed in the middle of the night having walked through deserted streets to occupy a gallery devoid of life. Both works distanced the body of the performer, who was in fact ‘present’. This paper explores the possibilities, complexities and contingencies of this dynamic seeking to analyse what it is to be presented as ‘live’ when geographically distant.
CitationBartram, A. and O'Neill, M. (2015) ‘Here and there: two works, ten countries’, [Presentation] The Body: Out of Time and Without a Place, Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, 21-22 May.
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