Citation: Filoseta , R 1001 Nights .
This work revisits the enchanted and magical world of the classic Arabian Nights in light of current events in the Middle East, highlighting in particular some intriguing parallels between the time-wasting narratives deployed by the crafty Shahrazad to distract her King-consort from taking her life, and some other equally engaging ‘narratives’ that circulate in Western culture, serving a rather more convoluted agenda. As research, 1001 Nights provides a significant contribution to the debate on ‘liveness’ in mediatised performance: liveness cannot be understood either as an intrinsic property of media (e.g. Phelan, 1993), or as an historically-determined factor (e.g. Auslander, 1999). Instead, 1001 Nights shows that liveness is a relational concept: what matters is the particular structural relationship between media in a given artwork – the same content may be classed as ‘live’ or not depending on how it functions semantically within the work, i.e. how it participates in the construction and communication of meaning. 1001 Nights includes video projections that simulate live computer interactions: the vocalist-actress is seen on stage operating a computer; the audience follows her actions relayed on a giant screen. The fact that such computer interactions are in reality pre-produced videos becomes totally irrelevant for assessing their ‘live’ status. This is because that particular theatrical action, in that particular structural context, is in effect articulating facts related to the present moment: what the audience is watching is not merely a video – they are witnessing the specific theatrical action showing a character (vocalist-Shahrazad) who, at that very moment, is performing the action of operating a computer. This shows that context is crucial in determining the nature of media as either ‘live,’ articulating the ‘here and now,’ or as mechanical re-production of past events. It shows, further, how such relationships can be purposefully manipulated by an author to construct meaning.
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