Humanness, Elevated Through its Disappearance

Humanness, Elevated Through its Disappearance

Jeffrey M. Morris (Texas A&M University, USA)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-077-8.ch006
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Developments in electronic communications are drastically changing what it means to be human and to interact with humans. The value of recent technological developments to artists is more than doing more, faster and better; it is also the ability to highlight and elevate humanness in new ways through art, even by appearing to replace the real with the virtual. New tools don’t simply replace humans, they allow human creators to shift into new realms of creation: creating dynamic systems and worlds instead of static products. This chapter will give consideration to the different types of presence manifest in various communications formats, stage presence in technology-mediated performance, and several artworks that bring new light to the artist’s approach to virtual worlds as a kind of counterpoint with reality.
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Mediation refers to something coming between two other things, or for the purpose of this chapter, the intervention of communications technology in the path between sender (performer or artist) and recipient (viewer). The term mediatize was first used to describe the annexation of one nation by another, in which the leader of the annexed nation maintains his or her title and sometimes some authority. More recently, Jean Baudrillard (1981/1994) has adopted the term to discuss the transformation of events when they are recorded or transmitted by communications technology, originally to highlight more overt or intentional kinds of transformation of the symbols in play. It has come to be used by others in a more general way highlighting any result of the process of recording or transmitting once-live events. (Auslander, 1999) In this chapter, mediation refers to the intervening position of technology, and mediatization refers to the effects of that intervention (in the general way without Baudrillard’s embedded implications).

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