Streaming in performance is a loaded area. While the obvious access opportunities are great, there are lots of issues around what, where, how much and what we even call this digital addition that is becoming so important to live art.
First the practical, what exactly do we mean by live streaming? Options include the use of static cameras on tripods versus using a live camera crew. Besides the relative costing differences, there are hundreds of reasons why we might choose one method over another, each one with even more alternatives. How and where should static cameras be placed? How many cameras should be used? Do the camera crew become part of the performance itself?
Many of these issues come down to whether we should be treating an online audience as equal to the physical audience. If so are we not obliged to strive to provide the same experience? And then how does the streaming impact on the expeience of the physical audience? When does streaming equipment begin to change what the present audience experience? With online audiences potentailly outnumbering the physical audience might we lose something of the feel of a live performance, as if we’re inviting them to a filmset?
So does the thought of a less committed audience offend us? An online audience will inevitably watch differently. The experience of a recorded or streamed performance can arguably never be as powerful as the live version. There are aspects of a performance beyond the visual and as technology develops, we’re seeing ever more innovative and performance practice… – sensography. Are we therefore offering our online audiences a reduced performance? Does live streaming cut people off even further? What about those with no internet connection or a generation that are not ‘digital natives’? Are we doing enough to introduce new audiences to the possibility?
At the same time, it could be said that live streaming is in fact more powerful. As we’ve said before, digital interaction may well be the answer to audience participation that performance art needs.
If we can achieve more online, or at least achieve something different, are we talking about the emergence of a new artform? Possibly, who are the curators of this new space? Working with a venue is one thing but what about curating a space where your viewers can adjust the volume, dim the lights, switch cameras or get up and go and make a cup of tea?
The implications on the more traditional audience are huge! Does an online audience encourage people to come and see a live show or make them feel like they’ve seen it? People who buy a DVD won’t then go see it in the cinema (usually). People who buy an album will go and see a band live. What role does mystery have in the arts? The industry is scared of losing business and artistis are scared of giving everything away…
But, we do know that live streaming promotes more access to the arts…Undoubtedly, streaming allows access to performances to those that might have had none but is potential the key word here? Certainly the possibility of access is there but are we really seeing larger audiences from around the world, disadvantaged people and the less able taking a new interest in dance and performance or are we just transferring our current audiences?