The problem of how we engage the world surrounding us is a classic topic in humanities, but not only. Over the last years, many disciplines, sometimes coming from quite distant research fields, have tried to explore the effects of mediation on the human experience. Aesthetics, media studies, performance studies, anthropology, biology, and cognitive sciences have been attempting to problematize the very dichotomy that separates subjects and objects; bodies and things. More specifically, this conference aims at exploring this idea through three different keywords: performance, technology, and narrativity. According to the word chosen, specific questions arise.
Technology. We perceive and perform actions in the world. Quite often, though, we engage a world that is not a natural one because, as humans, we have created artefacts that have reshaped our access to it. In this respect, technologies can be conceived as tools that extend our senses or, in a more radical way, as environments we live in. This idea is rooted in the popular notion proposed by Marshall McLuhan of “media as extensions of man”, but has recently been pushed forward by other media scholars. Lambros Malafouris has provided a recent, comprehensive, and interdisciplinary approach to this specific issue.
Narrativity. Language is our first technology. Through it, we have been able to produce stories that gave rise to culture. However, when language has been transferred on physical support by our ancestors as a mnemotechnic, we started to build fictional, enduring worlds. Narrativity is thus an essential engine for mediation, possibly the oldest human “tool” for the reconfiguration of the surrounding world. In this sense, cave art and other forms of representational signs can be considered as well as elements of this narrative explosion.
Performance. One of the most controversial features of the ongoing debate concerns how the performance processes lie into a dimension of ‘liveness’ through one can experience an event while it is taking place. Most of the prominent scholars are referring to a concept of immediacy as an impossible epistemological horizon. Richard Schechner has argued that the idea for which live and mediated performance have collapsed into each other has been embraced even by the most influential researchers of Performance Studies. The question is how we can talk about experiencing in a mediatized environment at all.
Lambros Malafouris (Keble College, Oxford University)
Mauro Carbone (Universitè de Lyon)
Emanuele Castano (Sarajevo School of Science and Technology)
Michele Cometa (Università di Palermo)
Adriano D’Aloia (Università della Campania)
Stefano De Matteis (Università di Roma Tre)
Claudio Paolucci (Università di Bologna)