Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Laurie Anderson on Audience

"The audience creates its own personality, I’ve noticed, in the first five minutes. They will either be generous, funny, silly, withholding, academic, analytical, grudging. And I’m fascinated with how that gets constructed, because it happens right away...."

Musician Laurie Anderson has interesting things to say about audiences in an interview published in the January 2012 issue of The Believer Magazine. She suggests that audiences very much bring with them associations and judgments to any performance--interpretive moves, in Steven Feld's terms--that a performer may, if they choose, then work to subvert with "jump cuts" and other techniques that might "throw things off." That, in turn, can create new sets of expectations. This dynamic game of performer-audience interaction, of course, is one comedians know well (Anderson appropriately mentions Andy Kaufman, with whom she worked in the 1970s, by way of explanation). And it's important to note that it also has a long and storied history in American entertainment, from P.T. Barnum's playfully deceptive exhibitions to today's spoiler culture. Overall, Anderson provoked me to think about questions of reception: Where do expectations for different forms of cultural performance--a comedy show, a concert, a lecture--come from? How do we shape and share audience literacy, not only at the large scale of institutions or culture but also in the dynamics of any performance, moment to moment? Fascinating, indeed!

No comments:

Post a Comment