Esther Hammelburg: Liveness coming to life: the mediatized experience of cultural events

Esther Hammelburg | University of Amsterdam, ASCA |  Promotor: prof. dr José van Dijck, Supervisors: prof. dr ir. Jeroen de Kloet, dr Thomas Poell | 2014 – 2020 | e[dot]e[dot]hammelburg[at]hva[dot]nl

Liveness coming to life: the mediatized experience of cultural events

This research project addresses the question how liveness is constructed within the mediatised experience of cultural events/festivals. Since Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz have firmly installed the category of media events into media theory these events have been closely connected to the notion of liveness, as they describe, the experience of being there, joining in the event as it takes place (Dayan & Katz, 1992). Many studies on a variety of event types have shown that although immediacy is one of the key aspects of liveness, the concept should not be regarded as the equivalent of live; it is not simply the simultaneity of event, transmission, and viewing (cf. Feuer, 1983; White, 2004; Kumar, 2012; Lunt, 2004; Couldry, 2002). Therefore, this study defines liveness as a historically defined construct that hinges on the potential connection, through media, to events that matter to us as they unfold (cf Vianello, 1985; Couldry, 2004; Auslander, 2012). In this conceptualization liveness is regarded as a construction of user, content and technology (cf Van Dijck, 2013), and immediacy and affinity are distinguished as the two main features of it (Hammelburg, 2015).

The core of this project is the ‘live study’ of at least three cases. During these events, both digital and ethnographic methods are used to explore liveness as constructed in current event-spheres in which content is spread over diverse platforms and all those who – as the riparian user David Berry describes (Berry, 2011) – see, hear, add and manage circulating media texts, renegotiate and reposition the event (Volkmer and Deffner, 2010). This should result in a reassessment and empirical grounding of existing theory on liveness.

Key themes: liveness, media events, festivals, social platforms, connective media, mixed methods.