Documenting Performance: The Context and Processes of Digital Curation and Archiving

I’ve written a chapter for this important new book edited by Toni Sant. This long overdue edition gets beyond outdated ideas about liveness and focuses on archival and documentary processes in the digital age. My contribution deals with performance and web archiving, and builds upon my earlier peer reviewed paper for The International Journal of Performance Art and Digital Media published in 2015. Although my research has now moved away from the topics covered in these texts, its a real pleasure to have made a contribution to this field.

You can find full details of the book here. And here is a little teaser of the first two paragraphs of my article:

Web Archiving and Participation: The Future History of Performance?
Vanessa Bartlett

Web archiving is the process of capturing portions of the internet, from single web pages to entire sites, for future use. This chapter explores how this archival form might make a contribution to the processes of documenting performance. As contemporary experiences of performance become subject to increasing mediation on the web, including venue websites detailing forthcoming programmes, Facebook invites listing event attendees and post show blog reviews circulated via various social media, there appears to be an urgent need for critical appraisal of the historical and scholarly value of this born digital material.

The analysis of the importance of innovation in web archiving will go beyond technological advancement as an end in itself here, addressing questions of participation and authorship. The problem of custodianship has a long history in archival scholarship (Freshwater 2003: 734) and the act of archiving the web, a medium that comes with its own integral debates about authorial control (Garde-Hanson 2009: 137) amplifies many of these issues. The concern here is not just with how web archiving changes the way that histories are recorded, but with the authorial implications of who authors this developing archival mode. As part of this approach, informal archival media such as social networking sites form as significant a source as official web archives held at national libraries.

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