“No artist is ahead of his time. He is his time, it’s just that others are behind the times.”

—Martha Graham

On Liveness

I was reminded of and keep being reminded of the qualitative and fundamental differences between something that is being experienced live vs. recorded, digitized or otherwise preserved the other night while at a concert and listening to Philip Glass.

There is just no comparison. While listening to a recording – I lack the urgency, immediacy, fallibility, and frailty of the live thing. I can turn it off, pause it. Live – I must focus, because it is fleeting.

In liveness I am complicit in the performance – I am integral – part of the pact of performing. Some of these apply, when I go see a pre-recorded film at the theater – this is why it is sometimes more enjoyable to see film there. But with a live performance not only are you part of the audience, but you are also part of the performance as a whole. Your actions can be acted upon by the performers. You can bring down the house of cards, break the pact, but you are compelled not to and you do not.

As an audience member you might disagree – but as a performer we all know how fundamental to the performance the audience is.