Visiting Expert: Phil Auslander Events

Programme of events for Phil Auslander’s talks and events during his visit as a KiASH visiting expert. 

Monday 14 October
5.15pm Welcome Reception in Jarman Building Foyer
6-7pm Presentation ‘Surrogate Performances: Performance Documentation and the New York Avant-Garde c. 1964-1974’ (Jarman Studio 2) 
This presentation looks at the historical development of performance documentation as a specific, self-conscious practice different from its predecessors in theater and dance photography. The setting is New York City from the late 1950s on. The main character is Michael Kirby, perhaps the first figure to try to think through the project of performance documentation as both an idea and a practice. Auslander takes his book Happenings: An Anthology as an early instance of performance documentation and moves on from there.

Tuesday 15 October
5pm-6.30pm Presentation 
‘Sound and Vision: The Audio-Visual Economy of Musical Performance’ followed by live music performance and drinks reception (The Galvanising Shop, School of Music and Fine Art, Chatham Historic Dockyard, Medway campus)
This piece looks at the relationship between the visual and auditory aspects of musical performance. Auslander defines the traditional understanding of this relationship—that there should be clear cause-and-effect relationships between what is seen and what is heard in musical performance—and discusses cases in which musicians seek to undermine this relationship. The central case study is the use of psychedelic light shows in rock concerts.

Wednesday 16 October
5pm – KIASH Lecture
‘Barbie in a Meat Dress: Performance and Mediatization in the 21st Century’ (Keynes Lecture Theatre 1)
Although mediatization is a permanent condition of modern societies the particular forms it takes on are historically contingent. The processes of mediatization derive from the workings of the culturally dominant media forms of a particular time. Over two decades ago, Auslander felt comfortable in positing the televisual, defined in terms of Raymond Williams’s concept of flow, as central to mediatized culture. This is no longer the case, as the televisual has clearly yielded sway to the digital in all its forms. In seeking to understand the implications of this transition for performers navigating this new cultural terrain Auslander focuses on two currently successful pop music artists, Nikki Minaj and Lady Gaga. Whereas the performers he choses as his original examples, performance artists Spalding Gray and Laurie Anderson, each developed a single, largely consistent persona that proved adaptable to different media and cultural contexts, both Minaj and Gaga create multiple personae that morph with astounding velocity. Gaga, in particular, takes this strategy so far that she seems to have no stable performance persona or brand image at all. Her constantly changing appearance and image suggests instead the urgency and frequency with which we must adjust our self-presentations to the multiple platforms on which we continuously perform them to see what relationship they have to our current digital culture.

Friday 18 October
4-6pm ‘Performing Stardom’ Event with a presentation from Philip Auslander: “Everybody’s in Show Biz: Performing Star Identity in Popular Music” followed by short provocations/presentations by Kent drama staff (Aphra Studio in the Grimond Building)
This is a brand new, as yet unfinished piece in which Auslander looks at the Popular Music Star as a social identity and elaborate a framework for understanding the performance of this identity drawing on Erving Goffman’s vocabulary of self-presentation.