James Harding, 18 October 2012

Our next London Theatre Seminar is 18 October, 6.30pm, in Room 246 (Senate House, second floor).

The speaker will be James Harding (University of Warwick):

Outperforming Activism: Surveillance Technologies Beyond the Surveillance Camera Players.

When the Surveillance Camera Players disbanded in 2006 after a decade of political activist theatre on the streets of New York City, they had already achieved international recognition for a unique style of performance that focused on the numerous ways in which surveillance cameras undercut long established notions of privacy and consent. Beyond that important focus, however, my paper suggests that the Surveillance Camera Players pursued a mode of performance activism that underestimated the ways that surveillance technologies themselves perform. Understanding how those technologies perform and how they continue to evolve through those performances, I argue, is an indispensible prerequisite for an effective activism against a society that is increasingly structured by the tools, mechanisms and technologies of surveillance.

James Harding is Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Warwick. He is the author of Cutting Performances: Collage Events, Feminist Artists and the American Avant-Garde (Michigan, 2010) and Adorno and a Writing of the Ruins (SUNY, 1997).  His newest monograph, The Ghosts of the Avant-Garde(s) (Michigan) is forthcoming in Spring 2013. His other books include The Rise of Performance Studies: Rethinking Richard Schechner’s Broad Spectrum (Palgrave, 2011), which he co-edited with Cindy Rosenthal.