|"...Our bodies are formed by our imaginations. The human animal is the only animal where there is an indissolvable marriage between biology and stories. We are not biological animals. All studies based upon animal studies are fatally flawed by the fact that I can change your biology by changing the story that I tell you. Culture weaves around our biology. Culture changes our endorphins. Cultural stories can change our chemical structure, and perhaps even the very structure of our brain."|
quote above is from Sam Keen, an author, psychologist, and generally insightful
fellow. I offer it here because it gets to the core of questions about the
primacy of the physical in all that we do and think.
Once the senses are awakened, we find ourselves drawn into a dynamic web of interconnectedness with all living things. We have no other choice but to trust in our imagination's ability to provide us insight into reality. Story is experience processed for purposes which often we may only partially comprehend. And so we listen, in hopes that something or someone will speak to us, and tell us the story we need to hear. Sometimes, we need that story to soften us and make us receptive to others. At other times, we need a story to steel us against difficulty or to push us into action.
The world is an intersection of transactions. Theaters, concert and lecture halls, dance clubs, sporting events, museums - all these are places where very particular transactions take place. Whenever we gather as an audience, we are in a theater of sorts. In the broadest sense of the term, a theater is an experience and environment generator, a simulation machine, a storytelling tool. As such, it has since its inception been a balance of artifice and reality, ideas and technology, dreams and science. Today that is even more true. Theater has broken the proscenium and erupted into our daily lives. At no time since the words were uttered, has all the world been more a stage.
We daily spend more and more of our time involved in simulations of one sort or another. As an increasing share of our daily lives takes on the trappings of a performance or at least an "experience," it seems appropriate that we examine more closely the mysterious chain of interactions that occur between "performer" and "audience". As the public grows less passive, the nature of communication and presentation must change to better accommodate the new audience demands that are placed upon experience providers. A revolution is taking place out there in the dark, and like all revolutions that matter, its effects are being felt one person at a time.
In the following series of articles, originally published as a special issue by the arts and technology organization, YLEM, I and six colleagues look at the changing nature of the audience experience, particularly as it is effected by technological change.
Table of Contents:
go to <next> The Audience Experience </next>
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