On Thursday I caught up with SSL, a Covent Garden based software engineering company, who have worked with us on a few archive preservation projects. They're doing a report for JISC n preservation strategy and challenges, and one of the concepts they've been throw to deal with is 'performance'. When I hear that I think of latency, bandwidth, reliability, but in fact what they're considering is the 'softer' idea of audience plus media in presentation- the whole 'performance' of putting on a show and what it means to audience and performer.
In archive terms this throws up some interesting examples- for instance, who of us has actually sat and watched in a large public space, with hundred of others, a silent movie projected on a big screen accompanied by a live pianist? That is performance, and it's rare, and very different. Or at least, it's rare unless Paul Merton does something about it.
Last night we went to see Paul Merton's Silent Clowns at Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall. Paul introduces a series of selected examples from the greats of silent movies, and in the second half we see a full performance of Safety Last, the Harold Lloyd classic (the one where he climbs the building).
The difference is stunning, we laughed and laughed- at one point it suddenly dawned on me I was howling and had been for minutes, and so was everyone else. No small part of the experience was down to the vivacity, exuberance, and sheer stamina of our pianist for the night, the incomparable Neil Brand. Turns out Rowan knows him from Eastbourne theatre days. Small world!