Performativity is a “wandering” concept, i.e. historically different meanings have been added to the term and it is linked to various disciplines such as literature, ethnology, sociology and cultural studies. In the field of narratology, for example, performativity can be the distinction between diegesis and mimesis (Berns, 2009), which, simplified speaking, is about different ways of communicating. Within oral storytelling, performativity has meant a shift from basing research’s focus on narratives to storytelling situations that involve the storyteller’s bodily and verbal expressions and interaction with listeners. (Lwin, 2010) The way I see it, performativity is about being active ; to be more (Østern &Knudsen, 2019, p. 3) precise, it concerns situated and contextualized actions in process and the implementation of a (Langellier, 1999, p. 127) performance. Risk is a keyword in the performative as it is often about political, social or passionate engagement (O’Grady, 2017). Change can also be a keyword related to performativity (Bauman &Briggs, 1999), there may be a change in a process or various forms of changes in a performance.
Why do I relate virtual exploration to the concept of performativity? First, there are a number of actions that take place during the planning process. I put together an avatar (preferably spontaneously), I make a pose that illustrates that the avatar is about to carry out an action. And the material can potentially be used in a performance in the form of inner images I have or texts I reflect on while I am in a process.
There are traits in the experiences that recurrs. One is about isolation. I tend to be drawn to places that provide an experience of isolation. The fact that I have carried this out during a pandemic reinforces the isolated experience. Another element that has directly to do with performativity is that I also am drawn towards places that give the impression of something is about to happen or something has just happened. It could be that a shower is running or a chair that is overturned. Actions are thus important for giving a feeling, like in a narrative that is itself action-oriented.
The fact that something is “happening” also tells me something abstract, or it opens up my participation. Absence is important. And also important component of the narrative, what is not told is just as important as what is told. Places that consist of a mixture of something I recognize and the more abstract are also essential in my experience, it opens up spaces that I have to put myself into. It’s about a balance between the stable and the unsafe. Rhythms are also present, like a place where images of women fall into a steady rhythm. Time is anchored that way, overall time is important. Several places give the illusion of ancient times, while at the same time one is aware that an ancient time is a contract to the virtual world, so time plays with reflection. It brings new time experiences in.
This project has thus been completed. But my virtual presence continues.
Bauman, R., & Briggs, C. L. (1999). Poetics and Performance as critical perspectives on language and social life. Annual Reviews Inc, 59-88.
Berns, U. (2009). The Concept of Performativity in Narratology Mapping a field of investigation. European Journal of English Studies Vol. 13, No.1 , 93-108.
Fels, L. (2012). Collecting Data Through Perormative Inquiry: A Tug on the Sleeve. Youth Theatre Journal 26:1, 50-60.
Haseman, B. (2006). A manifesto for performative Research. Media International Australia Vol 118 Issue 1 , 98-106.
Langellier, K. M. (1999). Personal narrative, performance, performativity: Two or three things I know for sure. Text an Performance Quarterly 19:2, 125-144.
Lwin, S. M. (2010). Capturing the dynamics of narrative development in an oral storytelling performance A multimodal perspective. A multimodal perspective. Language and Literature 19 4, 357-377.
O’Grady, A. (2017). Risk, participation, and performance practice: Critical vulnerabilities in a precarious world. Springer International Publishing AG.
Østern, A.-L., & Knudsen, K. N. (2019). Performative Approaches in Arts Education Artful Teaching, Learning and Research. New York: Routledge.