Active spectatorship and co-creation in the digital making of Flanker Origami
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How do spectators engage with, elaborate on and articulate the experience of a digital performance? What are the parameters that regulate the bodily interaction between performers and spectators, when the latter are ‘not seen to be seeing’ through digital screens? When and how does a spectator gain agency in a mediated creative encounter? This paper aims to re-construct the affective nature of the entanglement between the spectator’s body and the non-human, facilitated by the performer whose body is in collision with the technology. In my analysis, I will utilise first-hand responses by diverse spectators experiencing iterations of Flanker Origami - a live online and home-specific performance, originally devised with my company Organic Theatre for the first hybrid edition of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2021, and currently developed into an ongoing practice research project. The documentation examined draws upon a mentorship meeting on Zoom with Odin Teatret’s Eugenio Barba and Julia Varley, alongside formal and informal feedback gathered through audience reviews, Q&As, notes, emails, citations and social media interactions, seminars and private conversations in person and online. While the digital performer’s awareness of the encounter is shaped by a praxis made up of their working strategies and creative choices, the reactions and commentary from apparently disembodied spectators shift the focus to a polyphonic reading of the digital work. This, I argue, carries the potential to change meaning, purpose and direction of the performance, which starts reverberating in and growing through the intersection with processes of ‘active spectatorship’, emerging as a tendency for spectators to generate alternative pathways of embodying the remote communication. My conclusion proposes that far from being disorienting or promoting detachment, in this fluid interchange technology itself constitutes the porous membrane through which digital spectators become co-creators of Flanker Origami, influencing the performance and its developments through the immediacy of their response to and levelled participation in the technologically enabled making process.