A Machine To See With
in The machinic city
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Chapter 1 provides a participatory account of A Machine To See With, a performative art intervention in urban space by Blast Theory. This is used as a basis to reflect on how participation unfolds in performance art as it is assembled with everyday urban interactions. This account highlights the multiple modes of participation that emerge from the assemblage of artistic narrative, urban space and digital technologies. These modes are subject to technological failure and the many ways in which participants interpreted the artistic narrative of the performance. The importance of tracing relations between actants and analysing their agency is supported by Actor-Network Theory’s (ANT) argument about the difference between mediator actants (actively reconfiguring meaning) and intermediary actants (who simply transport meaning). This is followed by an account of Blast Theory, a renowned artist collective, and some of its most relevant digitally mediated performance art projects: Desert Rain, Can You See Me Now? and Uncle Roy All Around You. These projects illustrate common features across Blast Theory’s body of work, such as the ability to generate hybrid spaces, create playful and fictional interventions in urban space, employ ambiguous narratives and challenge participants to reflect on their ability to trust strangers in urban space.

The machinic city

Media, performance and participation

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