What is “live”. What do we mean by ‘liveness’. Why does it so often appear in quote marks?

And by extension, what is a ‘live artist’ especially good at?

There are so many understandings of this word in performance. Within a Showing Without Going context, it might be best to think of them all as useful in some way,  rather than trying to close down definitions.


live - on its own, the imperative form of the verb which means the opposite of to die. Don’t die: live!

A live concert - this usually means music played in the moment in front of a bodily-present audience, but you might be listening or watching a recording of it.

A live debate / football match / news programme - as used often in TV to denote something happening at the same time as you’re watching it. “Live and direct.”

Live action - (mostly used in film performance) - involving real people or animals, as contrasted with animation or computer-generated effects.


We can probably say that liveness is what we look or yearn for in performance more than anything else. A certain vivacity, an awareness of the here-and-now and that one's presence as spectator or witness is required. That what is happening can only happen live - any other form would either be documentation or a compromise. 

With this in mind, how do we make sure that Showing Without Going does not mean compromising on liveness? Bearing in mind the familiar sense of dissatisfaction with digital experiences (screens experienced as barriers, connectivity issues, digital fatigue...) 

Is it possible to create liveness / movement / solidity / vivacity, in the imagination?



Rita Hoofwijk & Hannah Loewenthal
Address as an explicit content
Address as implicit content