Performing the Digital

Rethinking Performance Studies under technological conditions

Sym­po­si­um, 27.–29.01.2015, Leuphana University of Lüneburg
Di­gi­tal Cul­tu­res Re­se­arch Lab (DCRL), Leu­pha­na Uni­ver­si­ty Lu­e­n­e­burg: Ti­mon Beyes, Iri­na Kald­rack, Mar­ti­na Lee­ker, Renée Ridgway and Ima­nu­el Schip­per (Fel­low DCRL)

In co­ope­ra­ti­on with In­sti­tu­te for De­sign Re­se­arch, Zu­rich Uni­ver­si­ty of the Arts (ZHdK)

Concept: Art and Ci­vic Me­dia (ACM), Di­gi­tal Cul­tu­res Re­se­arch Lab (DCRL)

With: Marie-Luise Angerer (D), Timon Beyes (D/DK), Gerhard M. Buurmann (CH), Scott deLahunta (D), Steffen Fiedler (D), Björn Franke (CH), Karin Harrasser (A), Margarete Jahrmann (CH), Irina Kaldrack (D), Susan Kozel (SE), Martina Leeker (D), Oliver Leistert (D), Jon McKenzie (USA), Claus Pias (D), Renée Ridgway (NL/DK), Marc Rölli (CH), Jens Schröter (D), Imanuel Schipper (CH/D), Sascha Simons (D), Stephan Thiel (D)

Culture as performance

Performance studies are an important method in understanding culture with its different areas of organizations, urban spaces, institutions or performance art, in order to explore bodies and shapes in time and space as well as dramaturgies. Performance studies focus on the materiality of culture as well as on their temporality, ephemerality and transformativity. They also consider the context in which the cultural aspect is visible and the perspective from which it is received. With this reception, one can discover insights into cultural organization: emotions, atmospheres, perception, acting and presence. Yet performativity itself, as the process of carrying out a cultural and political act, reorganises one’s perception and order (Jacques Ranciére) thereby potentially developing resistances to cultural inscriptions, which could not be experienced with other methods.

Performing the digital?

If it comes to studying digital “worlds” as performance, it seems that this approach is limited. Perhaps because the topics “bodies”, “presence” or “atmospheres” have been altered so that performance studies can’t grasp them any more. Even with the “Performative Turn” movement of the 1990s, which initiated an interdisciplinary field of research on the constitution of cultures in performances, the production of a vast quantity of publications, technological conditions of performance and performativity is still overlooked. Therefore it is timely to address performativity in networked datacultures applying a new approach with uptodate dramaturgies.


The aim of the symposium is to rethink performativity and performance studies from their technohistory and their technological relevance in order to investigate questions of the body, emotions, atmospheres, perception, acting and presence in digital technological conditions. Which role do the practices of dramaturgy, mis en scene, embodiment and affect have that could be articulated through a technohistorical reconstruction? From this departure we arrive at the contemporary conditions of the performative with current research methodologies in order to understand more about digital cultures.


  • How and with which effects do performative practices change with digital technologies?
  • How do methods, topics (e.g. body, liveliness, perception, presence, participation) and relevance of performance studies change under technological conditions?
  • If there are new forms, how do we describe them?
  • What do performance studies bring to digital cultures? What is not recognized without their methods and tools?
  • How much are we performed by the digital? How much do we perform it?
  • How is protest changing in the digital?
  • How do we create bodies and affects for the digital?
  • How much social is contained within the digital?

Performing the Digital was an event of the research project Art and Civic Media within the EU major project Innovation Incubator.