We are the LIVENESS Research Group based at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, with core collaborators in London, UK and Tampere, Finland.
We explore the intersections of liveness, game structures and rules, and the digital. The digital and the physical have never been in opposition, and this makes the challenge of producing culture that does not reinforce this false dichotomy all the more pressing. Rather than simply tracing a shift from physical to digital in modes of cultural production, we understand our situation as more nuanced: pushing and pulling in multiple directions. How can digital technology help enhance, adapt, or navigate the liveness of participatory theatre? How do we find a delicate, charged balance between the digital and the live, or between the couple and the crowd?
We look to experiments, adaptations, and mutations in the cultural practices of live theatre and games (two forms that are often seen as being in tension rather than in relation) for a more subtle consideration of the relation between physical liveness, and the digital.
Liveness represents the possibility of improvisation, unpredictability, and error as well as responsiveness, tolerance, and reciprocality; in short, the human or the limits of artificial intelligence. These are social values we can look to live theatre to explore, but not at the expense of the digital.
Our questions are: how does understanding the different ways liveness operates, and can be structured, help us build different types of digital, physical and social experiences? How, for example, can we integrate trained actors as nodes in games, which would otherwise involve only untrained participants and/or amateur role players?
We want to steer games and, by implication, the future of interactive culture, away from single player experiences in front of a screen towards radically contemporary, mixed experiences where the digital reinforces the centrality of the material world, especially the body and our relations with each other.