In his provocative new book, performance critic Philip Auslander explores live performance and asks what relevance it has in contemporary culture dominated by mass media. Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Society begins with an overview of live performance and reveals that media technology has encroached on live events to the point where many, like concerts and sporting events that feature jumbo video screens, are hardly live at all. Auslander offers a way of understanding the history of this development based on an analysis of the relationship between early television and theatre.
Auslander goes on to a detailed analysis of what live perfomance has meant in rock music culture, arguing that live performance has been devalued here, as it has been in the culture at large. As a comparison, Auslander then considers liveness in the legal arena, for it is the one social realm where live performance has retained much of its traditional value; a live trial is central to American jurisprudence.
Liveness offers penetrating insight into our shifting relationship with live events and poses important questions about what this means for the future of performance in a media-saturated culture.