The Exploration of 'Liveness,' the Ontology of Presence and Music Performances in Cyberspace: Understanding Live Music Performances in Secondlife.com
The aims of this research are to explicate the ontology of live performance and physical presence, and to explore the nature of live musical performance in the context of the website secondlife.com. The focus of this paper is fourfold. Firstly, the two common ways of conceptualizing “liveness” will be examined; in this part of the discussion, “live” music will be juxtaposed with recorded music (Gracyk, 1997; Edidin, 1999; Uidhir, 2007), and then analyzed in the context of the ontological debate related to live performance vs. mediated performance as described by Phelen (1993) and Auslander (1999). Secondly, the researcher will explore how the notion of presence varies when taking into consideration different media forms; Jaeger’s (2006) analysis will be useful in explaining the complex relationship between presence and live performances—what kinds of issues arise when the concept of presence is used to describe the experiences of live performances? The third section will focus on live musical performances in the cyberspace context. In cyberspace, what conceptual ideas come to the fore in the transition from a live performance in a real space to one in a virtual context? The last part of this essay will consider the themes of telepresence and “simulacra” as vital staples in the study of real-time online musical performances. As a whole, this paper will produce a conceptual framework that will serve as a guide and foundation for future research on the subject of live musical performances in cyberspace.
Keywords: Live music performances, The Ontology of Presence, Cyberspace, Simulacra, secondlife.com
Hiesun Cecilia Suhr
Ph.D. Candidate, School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, Rutgers University