Recording & Fixed Media

How does fixed medium documentation change artistic practices?

- new art forms emerge: film, recording, video/TV and digitally based new media

- there is a range of approaches to the use of fixed media, along the continuum:

Documented performance <------> Document as performance

- “documented performance” implies a certain neutrality to the capture, but in fact is influenced by every aspect of the documentary medium:

(e.g. microphones, cameras, formats, placement, fidelity) and whether it provides a single modality (e.g. audio only) or multiple

- note that early anthropological field practice "documented" (and distorted) folk music with notation, then recordings

- “document as performance” is often team produced, and based on standardized production values and practices;

- gives the illusion or image of an actual performance, ranging from the pseudo-real, idealized, hyper-real, to completely artificial, imaginary (“virtual”), constructed realities

- preferred placement along the continuum differs by genre; e.g.

- the historical development of each of these formats parallels changes in listening habits and preferences (Thompson, Sterne, Simes, Katz, et al.) and perhaps performance practice as well

- recordings in turn influence future generations of live performers, particularly those involved with improvisation, aural tradition and so on

Contemporary art music practice today

- acoustic – mixed (live + electronics) – electroacoustic (fixed medium and live performance) – new media (cf. Manovitch)

- note archival problems associated with each of these: succession of formats (e.g. vinyl, tape, DAT, CD, digital files) all of which need machines to read them

- with improvisatory forms, the choice of “fixing” a live performance vs maintaining the machines required to produce the live work (can the latter “migrate”?)

- multi-media/new media works multiply the problems of documentation

- some works may be fixed; others indeterminate, algorithmic, stochastic, interactive, distributed (i.e. internet based), conceptual, etc.

- fixed medium works, however, can lead back to live performance (diffusion) interpretations

- physical survival of art works vs their cultural survival when marginalized

- does digital data and software make cultural artifacts more ephemeral or give potential longevity?