Abbie Victoria Trott
University of Melbourne
What are the Ties That Hold us Together? The Smartphone Network in As If No One is Watching and Body of Knowledge
In this time of ubiquitous digitality, the smartphone has become a central interface of connection. It gathers us together, tying us to people that we know – and people that we don’t – as we participate in what Shuhei Hosokawa described in 1984 as acts of ‘secret theatre.’ Considering two networked performances – Vulcana Women’s Circus and WaW Dance’s As If No-One is Watching (2018, 2019), and Body of Knowledge (2019) by Samara Hersch – I use network theory to examine the ties that assembled the audience members together. Watching a physical abstraction of the private, while listening to personal stories in public, the audience – through their smartphone – interfaced with the performance of As If No One is Watching, enabling them to engage with acts of theatre in secret. In contrast – working together to establish a ‘body’ of ‘knowledge’ – the audience of Body of Knowledge used smartphones to interface with each other and the performers. Situated firmly in the ‘physical,’ as opposed to the ‘virtual,’ these immersive performances were reliant on smartphone facilitated postdigital networks. In this paper I explore how the smartphone in performance gathers audience members together over a network.
Abbie Victoria Trott is a Theatre Studies PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, where she is undertaking research into young audiences and postdigital theatre as part of the ARC Linkage project “Creative Convergence: Enhancing Impact in Regional Theatre for Young People.” Abbie is an experienced stage and production manager across community theatre, circus, and multimedia performance. In 2016 she competed her Masters, “‘Being With:’ Establishing Co-presence Between Multimedia Images and Performers in Multimedia Performance” at the University of Queensland.