The International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, published by Intellect, recently launched issue 6.1, entitled “Alternative Materialities: Scenography in Digital Performance”.
The issue was edited by Nick Hunt, Head of School of Design Management and Technical Arts and includes a book review by Rachel Nicholson, Module/Year Coordinator for Lighting, of The Potentials of Spaces: The Theory and Practice of Scenography and Performance, edited by Alison Oddey and Christine White.
A full table of contents for issue 6.1 can be found on the journal’s website, and here below is the editorial abstract outlining the context and thematic concerns addressed in the journal.
Issue 6.1 seeks to engage specifically scenographic thinking about technologies in performance. It takes scenography to mean the materiality of performance – the sum total of the performance space, scenery, costume, lighting, sound, video, and so on – and contributors have in various ways addressed scenography and its associated practices in relation to digital media. The widespread adoption of digital media across the field of performance arts has proposed alternative materialities that have sometimes radically disrupted existing scenographic practices, and sometimes perpetuated established practices through new means. New possibilities have brought new ways of thinking and doing, and new goals. The articles in this issue collectively map some of the dimensions of this shifting territory, contributors having been asked to generate ‘scenographic thinking’ by taking the physical materials of performance, and those who manipulate them, as a starting point in approaching the use of digital media in live performance.
The articles are diverse in both their subject matter and their approach to it, and have been written by contributors from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds. However, if there is a common concern, it is perhaps that of the manipulation of space through the use of digital technologies. This may not seem surprising, since the scholarly discourses of digital media in performance have taken the virtual, and virtual space in particular, as a central focus. Equally, scenography – in establishing itself as a shift away from theatrical stage design as ‘mere’ decoration – has tended to be positioned by many of its promoters as a primarily spatial practice. In addition, what some of the articles begin to suggest is a developing engagement with the relationship between the performer and the scenography of performance – a gradual dissolution of the simplistic contradistinction between scenography as the ‘context’ or ‘environment’ in which takes place the performer’s ‘action’. New insights and creative possibilities begin to emerge from such scenographic thinking.”
(Nick Hunt, 2010.)