Live design as living process

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Bruner, Michael Andrew

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Live events and performance are fundamental aspects of our culture. They are the spaces where communities form and where productive dialogues occur between strangers. As the United States of America faces social isolation due to the novel coronavirus along with increasingly divisive politics, live performance is sorely needed to heal our communities. However, due to the pandemic, live performance defined as an event with performer and audience co-located in a shared time and space is no longer a safe avenue for creating art. The current pandemic is by no means the only force shaping our current reality; climate change, political unrest, digital technology, and global capitalism are all looming ecological forces we are facing. All of these forces need collective action to be effectively addressed. Live experiences are a critical component of manifesting the necessary social cohesion to redefine our relationships with the Earth. The current state of the world leaves ecologically minded artists with a fundamental question, what are the vital ingredients of a live experience? This thesis is an exploration of live experience and how we can look to the properties of living systems as lens for guiding successful design decisions. My goal is to reveal the elements that index a performance as live from an audience's perspective and re-imagine my design methodology as a living process. Through the design and implementation of an interactive installation titled, Elemental Media, I experiment with novel modes of audience interaction and involvement that respond to our current moment. Creating a hybrid event that takes place both virtually and physically offers a lens for considering how differing mediums and modes of spectatorship are involved in generating experiences of liveness. Assessing the success of this process and performance involves gathering audience responses, documenting and reflecting upon personal experiences, engaging with the writing of other researchers, and synthesizing these findings into principles for live design as a living process.


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