2013 ISTR Conference

“The Irish and The City”

Irish Society for Theatre Research Conference

Birkbeck, University of London

November 1-2, 2013




In his article ‘The Right to the City’, David Harvey suggests that cities are the outcome of values, desires and social relations: “The question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from that of what kind of social ties, relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies and aesthetic values we desire.” Given that theatres tend to be situated at the heart of cities, and are often important architectural and political features of the urban landscape, it is surprising that so little scholarly attention has been paid to the relationship between the Irish, the urban and the theatrical. Since De Valera’s apocryphal ‘comely maidens’, Irish performance has more often been focused on the depiction of rural crossroads rather than on the ring roads, motorways, railways and airports that lead the modern visitor to the cities that host these performances.


Recent scholarship has argued however, that the urban environment in which theatre takes place is crucial for comprehending how performance works within the city, and on the city, as Michael McKinnie has argued: “space is not simply the pre-existing context for theatre practice […] but a series of places through which theatrical and spatial forms are mutually constituted.”  The role that theatre and cultural performance have played in imagining, shaping and producing ‘Irish’ cities is therefore worthy of consideration – not only in relation to the cities of the island of Ireland, but equally in the major metropolitan centres that were sometimes literally built by the Irish – Liverpool, London, New York, Boston, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland, and so on.


This conference aims to pay attention to the depiction of the urban landscape in Irish theatre, to the relationship between cultural performance and cities, and to emphasise the ways in which the performance of Irishness has been constituted, imagined and received within the structures of funding, urban planning, spatial politics, metropolitanism, cultural capital, neoliberalism and so on.

The conference invites proposals (and ideas for panels) from all aspects of theatre research but with emphasis on the following questions:


  • What is the relationship among Irish theatre, the performance of Irishness, and questions of metropolitanism, cosmopolitanism, globality and multiculturalism?


  • How has Irish theatre, and the performance of Irishness, emerged through structures of industrialisation and modernity?


  •   How does work by contemporary Irish theatre and performance practitioners engage with Irish cities and their histories, e.g. ANU, THEATREclub, THISISPOPBABY?


  • How is the Irish ‘home’ imagined in cities? How is urban Irish identity constituted through nostalgia, homesickness, and the idea of homelessness?


  •  How do urban, rural and regional divisions structure ideas of Irishness?


  • What is the relationship between ruins and ghosts and the Irish city – ghost estates, deserted cottages, famine villages and so on?


  •  How are cities around the world structured by the performance of Irishness in manifestations such as the Irish pub, the Irish arts centre, the Irish ‘quarter’, famine memorials, St Patrick’s Day parades, theatre festivals etc.?


  • What are the economic structures, systems of patronage and funding, urban planning, architectures etc. that form both the city and the theatre?

Proposals on other topics in the field of Irish theatre (not just plays by Irish authors but the full range of performances that are produced in Ireland and around the world under the rubric of ‘Irishness’) are also welcome.


Only members of the ISTR may present papers at the conference. Membership application forms will be available during the event.

Please send a short (max 300 words) proposal to Aoife Monks (a.monks@bbk.ac.uk) and Fintan Walsh (f.walsh@bbk.ac.ukon or before 1st September 2013. Please note that this is the FINAL deadline.


Please include with your proposal your name and institutional affiliation (if any).


Confirmed keynote speakers include:


- Professor Jen Harvie, Queen Mary, University of London


- Dr. Michael McKinnie, Queen Mary, University of London


- Professor Chris Morash, National University of Ireland, Maynooth


- Dr. Lionel Pilkington, National University of Ireland, Galway



Finally, please follow this link for regular updates on the conference:


Performance Matters

Discussion Group on Contemporary Irish theatre

Tuesdays 6-7pm, Moore Institute NUI Galway.


Based on Contemporary Drama from 1980 onwards, this group aims to create a forum in which theatre makers, students and audience members can engage with the performances that have shaped Irish theatre in the last thirty years. Focusing on drama from a practical as well as a theoretical perspective, this group will meet on a weekly basis where a specific playwrights work will be explored in depth.



Moore Institute, NUI Galway, Fortnightly Tuesdays 6-7pm

For further information, you can contact Lisa or Mairéad at the following address: PerformanceMattersNUIG@gmail.com

EFACIS-CFP for Proposed Panel

The European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies (EFACIS) conference, ‘Towards 2016: Old and New Irelands’ – June 5-8, 2013 – National University of Ireland, Galway.


Panel Subject: Ghosting the Stage: Representations of Nationhood and Identity in the Irish Theatrical Space


This panel will examine the role that nation-building has played in the theatrical narratives that have developed and reverberated since 1916. From ‘Ireland’s warriors’ to the ‘Sons of Ulster’ we will explore how embodied representations of past traumas resonate with contemporary Irish playwrights. The connections between the power of the performative and the cult of blood sacrifice in the foundations of the nation-state permeated Irish theatre with notions of ritualism, heroism and the tragic. As the centenary of the Easter Rising approaches, this panel invites papers that explore the legacy of struggle in Irish theatrical space. If ‘a nation exists primarily because of its own imagination of itself’ (AE) this panel seeks to discover how Ireland has been and continues to be represented within the theatrical space. Key questions include:


  • How do the representations of nationhood and identity depicted on the Irish stage impact on contemporary theatrical performance?
  • What are the links/difference between sanctioned ideological representations of nationhood and localised histories?
  • How has the mythologising within Irish historical narratives impacted contemporary Irish performance?
  • What is the legacy of tragedy/memory/trauma in Irish theatrical narratives?


Please send a 250-word abstract with a brief biographical note to Lisa Fitzgerald (Moore Institute, NUI Galway) at lisa.fitzgerald@nuigalway.ie by 1st February 2013.


NB: Only paid-up members of EFACIS are eligible to read papers at this conference. Membership subscriptions for EFACIS may be taken out or renewed with conference registration. Membership of EFACIS is €30 for individuals, €15 for graduate/postgraduate students and membership through institutional affiliation (institutes and research centres). To join EFACIS beforehand, please contact the EFACIS Treasurer, Mark Schreiber, schreiber@anglistik.uni-siegen.de EFACIS 2013 conference delegates may respond to the general conference call or calls for specific panels but may only present one paper at the conference.

Further information on the EFACIS 2013 conference available at www.conference.ie

Performance Matters

Discussion Group on Contemporary Irish theatre

Tuesdays 6-7pm, Moore Institute NUI Galway.



Based on Contemporary Irish Drama from 1980 onwards, this group aims to create a forum in which theatre makers, students and audience members can engage with the performances that have shaped Irish theatre in the last thirty years. Focusing on drama from a practical as well as a theoretical perspective, this group will meet on a weekly basis where a specific playwrights work will be explored in depth. Some of the playwrights discussed will be Marina Carr, Martin McDonagh, Conor McPherson, Micheál Ó Conghaile, Enda Walsh Mark O’ Rowe and Anne Delvin.



Moore Institute, NUI Galway, Tuesdays 6-7pm

For further information, you can contact Lisa or Mairéad at the following address: PerformanceMattersNUIG@gmail.com






Prix Ars Electronica Collide@CERN is the new international competition for digital artists to win a residency at CERN the world’s largest particle physics laboratory in Geneva. It is the first prize to be announced as part of the new Collide@CERN artists residency programme initiated by the laboratory.

This new prize marks a 3 year science/arts cultural partnership and creative collaboration between CERN and Ars Electronica – which began with CERN’s cooperation with Origin – the Ars Electronica Festival in 2011.

The aim of the Prix Ars Electronica Collide@CERN prize is to take digital creativity to new dimensions by colliding the minds of scientists with the imaginations of artists. In this way, we seek to accelerate innovation across culture in the 21st century – creating new dimensions in digital arts, inspired by the ideas, engineering and science generated at CERN, and produced by the winning artist in collaboration with the transdisciplinary expertise of the FutureLab team at Ars Electronica.

The residency is in two parts – with an initial two months at CERN, where the winning artist will have a specially dedicated science mentor from the world famous science lab to inspire him/her and his/her work. The second part will be a month with the Futurelab team and mentor at Ars Electronica Linz with whom the winner will develop and make new work inspired by the CERN residency. From the first meeting between the artists, their CERN and Futurelab mentors, they will all participate in a dialogue which will be a public blog of their creative process until the final work is produced and maybe beyond. In this way, the public will be able to join in the conversation.

This final work will be showcased both at the Globe of Science and Innovation at CERN, in Geneva and at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz. It will also be presented in the Prix Ars Electronica’s “CyberArts” catalogue.


10,000 Euros prize money

Rent, subsistence and travel are funded from a designated limited fund that is in addition to the prize money. The awarding of this prize is thanks to the generosity of Ars Electronica and the funding of the creative residencies made possible by the generosity of anonymous donors. All artists insurances for the residencies are funded by the Exclusive Sponsor of all artists insurances for the Collide@CERN programme, UNIQA Assurances SA Switzerland.

We are looking for digital artists who will be truly inspired by CERN, showing their wish to engage with the ideas and/or technology of particle physics and with CERN as a place of scientific collaboration, using them as springboards of the imagination which dare to go beyond the paradigm. You might be a choreographer, performer, visual artist, film maker or a composer – what you all have in common is that you use the digital as the means of making your work and/or the way of presenting it.


We are inviting artists working in the digital arts to submit their proposals. The submission plattform will be opened on July 18th 2012 here. The closing date for submission isSeptember 26th 2012.

Each submission has to be online and include the following parts:

Checklist for Submissions:

  • A personal testimony video which introduces the artist who describes why and how this residency will inspire new work (Up to 5 min.)
  • An outline of a possible concept/idea which the artist wishes to pursue at CERN and Futurelab
  • A draft production plan with costings and timeline
  • A selected portfolio of work which showcases work the artist is proud of

All of the above have to be submitted online.

The concept description should explain the essentials of the idea, how and why the ideas and science generated by a residency at CERN and the working at Ars Electronica Futurelab are essential to the project.

The production plan should contain a clear description of the production tasks involved in the project, and how and why the Ars Electronica Futurelab personnel are important for the realization and production of the proposed idea.

The Jury will comprise two representatives from Ars Electronica/Futurelab with expertise in digital arts, two representatives from CERN (which will include the person in charge of the Arts @CERN and a member of the CERN Cultural Board) and an external expert in the field.

The Jury’s decision will be final and the artist will be expected to take up their residency in 2013. Where a first visit to CERN is planned in January, and the start for the actual residency in CERN will be March. After 2 months in CERN the Artist will travel to Linz for a third month to finish the residency at the Ars Electronica Futurelab.


This competition is open to all kinds of innovative concepts and ideas in the fields of art and technology
Art & Technology: interactive art, digital musics & sound art, computer animation / Film / Vfx, digital communities & social media, hybrid art, performance & choreography, digital design

Online Submission


Every concept submitted for consideration will be evaluated by a jury of experts in the order in which it was received according to the following criteria:

  •  Aesthetics, originality
  • Compelling conception
  • Innovation
  • Technique and quality of the presentation
  • Interest in the ideas of science as expressed by CERN

In addition, as part of the residency at CERN, the winning artist will be expected to engage with the community of scientists at CERN by holding open workshops with them to share artistic knowledge and inspiration. He/she will also hold public lectures the beginning and end of their residency with their science mentor at the Globe of Science and Innovation at CERN which will be broadcast via the internet and they will participate in the Ars Electronica Festival with their mentor also.


Prix Ars Electronica Collide@CERN Artists Residency Prize
Spin I
Julius von Bismarck (DE)

Honorary Mention
How I learned to love the particle
Adrian Hornsby (UK), Arnoud Noordegraaf (NL)

Honorary Mention
Das Gestell
Eno Henze (DE)

Honorary Mention
Natasa Teofilovic (RS)



Tel. +43.732.7272-58

Prix Ars Electronica

Ars Electronica Linz GmbH
Ars-Electronica-Straße 1
4040 Linz, Austria

The North: Exile, Diaspora, Troubled Performance

I will be giving a paper this coming Saturday entitled…

‘Counter Sites: Exile, Pilgrimage, and the Ouroboros Tour of Brian Friel’s Making History.’


I propose that regional Irish communities and their histories can be challenged and revitalised through engagement with relevant cultural art-forms such as the Ouroboros theatre company’s site-specific tour of Brian Friel’s Making History in 2007. The company used the dynamic nature of these historical spaces to show how site-specific theatre can function to re-engage the community with its own history, particularly in the North. The site itself is not neutral, it too engages with the performance, as it reflects and inverts its surroundings. When using sites that come layered with historical resonance such as those used in the Ouroboros/Making History tour, the audience reaction illustrates the depth of connection between the site, performance and the viewer that engaged with it. The tour was conceived as a way of connecting Friel’s historical play to the localities in which this particular history unfolded. The aim was to re-negotiate these sites, through the performance and in doing so, re-establish the relationship between history and locality as the tour progressed. The heart of theatrical performance lies in its ephemerality and yet no other sector within the arts has to negotiate their practice in such concrete terms, artistically in the way theatre functions as a group endeavour, financially, in the various institutions funding any given project and administratively in how these institutions and theatre companies co-operate in producing the work. The dualistic nature of theatre mixed with the slippery and under-defined notion of site-specificity creates a need for theatre
itself to move between the practical; funding, staging, and the theoretical; defining, contextualising. Ultimately, I propose that national and regional histories can be challenged and revitalized by engaging with new cultural forms such as site-specific theatre and furthering these sectors’ ability to grow can, in turn, inform, identify and develop new modes of engagement which will allow for a better understanding of our history, a deeper community and regional network and a transformation of publicly owned space.

9th Annual Irish Theatrical Diapora Conference 
Derry/Londonderry | June 8-9 2012

The 9th iteration of the Irish Theatrical Diaspora conference will be held in the culturally vibrant and historically significant city of Derry/Londonderry, and is being organized by Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick at the School of Creative Arts, University of Ulster. Professor Gay McAuley will be giving the conference keynote address. More information on Professor McAuley is available on the Program page.

The conference aims to build upon the scholarly work already done by the Irish Theatrical Diaspora project, and to extend it in an exploration of performances of ‘The North’. Tracing the trajectories of emigrants from the North of Ireland to Scotland, Newfoundland, New England and Canada, the conference aims to analyze and explore performative and theatrical representations of ‘The North’ and the northerly migration of peoples. This migration stretches back to the Flight of the Earls and the Famine, and also includes recent historical events such as the exiling of individuals and families by paramilitary groups during and after the ‘Troubles’; movements of population within Northern Ireland in response to violent sectarianism, and economic and cultural migration. It further aims to recognize Northern Ireland’s history of immigration, most famously of the Chinese community which established itself in Belfast in the early 1960s, and the recent establishment of Central and Eastern European communities, which are slowly reshaping Northern Ireland’s cultural landscape and conception of diversity.

Keynote Address
Professor Gay McAuley: Haunting Places: On Not Finding Closure.

Some places are haunted, others are haunting. In so many places in this world, atrocities have been committed and people must nevertheless try to continue to live their lives in places marked by trauma. This paper, drawing on my experience as a migrant in Australia, deals with the ways in which people in that country are beginning to remember the violence committed in the places they now occupy and with the responsibilities people in the present bear for violence committed in the past. I am interested in the role of place in these processes of remembering (and forgetting) for it is both an inconvenience to those who would prefer to deny and forget and, potentially, a source for reconciliation and healing.

I describe a number of instances of what can be termed ‘memory work,’ photographic installations, performance works and community memorialisation projects, and extend my analysis with some reflections on the kinds of remembering that are appropriate in the face of great suffering. Between denial and depression (two of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief that I suggest are equally applicable to collective grieving), these works suggest possibilities of social action that permit the past to resonate in the present without imposing closure where no closure is morally possible.

Gay McAuley is Honorary Professor in the Department of Performance Studies at the University of Sydney. She is a leading figure in the development of Performance Studies in Australia, and has made significant contributions to performance analysis, rehearsal studies, documentation and performance, and reception studies. Her recognition of the importance of space and spatial function in theatrical meaning-making has been especially influential, and her book Space in Performance: Making Meaning in the Theatre was published in 1999. It won the Rob Jordan Prize awarded by the Australasian Drama Studies Association. Between 2001 and 2005 she convened an interdisciplinary research group on Place and Performance, and edited the collective volume emerging from the group’s work (Unstable Ground: Performance and the Politics of Place, 2006). Her current research concerns the relationship between place, performance and collective memory. Her new book is entitled Not Magic But Work: An Ethnographic Account of a Rehearsal Process (Manchester UP, forthcoming May 2012).

The North: Exile, Diaspora, Troubled Performance

OpenHere 28/06-01/07

 OpenHere 28/06-01/07

Where: Science Gallery and CTVR headquarters, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

When: 28th of June – 1st July 2012

Admission: Free, but booking is recommended, & essential for workshops with limited capacity.

More info: openhere.data.ie



What does it mean to be open today?

CTVR / The Telecommunications Research Centre, in collaboration with the Dublin Art and Technology Association (D.A.T.A) present Openhere, a four day festival that addresses social, technological and cultural issues surrounding the notion of the digital commons.

If we speak of ‘the commons’ today as a general phenomenon, this has much to do with the modes of production, consumption and distribution that have emerged over the last two decades around information and communication technologies. This period has seen a growing emphasis on the social and juridical implications of sharing in the online domain, where a range of nonmarket and non-proprietary activities such as open source software, remix cultures and commons-based peer-production have lead some to propose the advent of a ‘digital socialism’. However, as sharing and openness become the watchwords of the new corporation – as the commons is increasingly central to capitalism – such positions are no longer straightforward.

Open Here will bring together a transdisciplinary community of critical theorists, engineers, artists, designers and industry professionals to expand debates surrounding the digital commons.  Key points of discussion will include the conflictive spaces of the digital commons, tactical media, net-art, digital policy, disruptive wireless practices, alternative spectrum ownership models, next-generation networks and the political economy of infrastructure.

This festival takes the form of talks, presentations, workshops, discussions and screenings. It will be held in The Science Gallery and in CTVR headquarters in Trinity College from June 28th to July 1st, 2012.

Participants include: Amelia Andersdotter (SE), Michel Bauwens (BE), Ralph Borland, (ZA) Sarah Browne (IRL), Alexander Chemeris (RU), Florian Cramer (NE), CTVR (IRL), DATA (IRL), Linda Doyle (IRL), Fairwaves (RU), Jessica Foley (IRL), Tim Forde (IRL), Benjamin Gaulon (FR/IRL), Saoirse Higgins (IRL) Robert Horvitz (US), Dmytri Kleiner (UA/CA), Franco Lacomella (AR), Nicolas Maigret (FR), Rachel O’Dwyer (IRL), Julian Oliver (NZ), Nora O’Murchu (IRL) Jussi Parikka (FI), Tom Rondeau (US), Lourens Rozema (NL), Paul Sutton (IRL), Danja Vasiliev (RU), Martin Weiss (US), Harald Welte (DE), Mick Wilson and Thomas Wilson (IRL).

Open Here is curated by Linda Doyle, Benjamin Gaulon and Rachel O’Dwyer and supported by ESOF2012, CTVR,  & Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin.

All events are free but booking is recommended, especially for workshops with limited capacity.. For more information and to book a place see www.openhere.data.ie.

Interactivos?’12: Hack the City. Current and Future Needs


Call for Projects


Science Gallery (Dublin) and Medialab-Prado (Madrid) are issuing an Open Call for projects to be collaboratively developed and presented during Interactivos?’12 Dublin: Hack the City. Current and Future Needs (July 11 – 26, 2012), with the participation of advisors and technical assistants.

Advisors of the workshop: Tim RedfernCarolina García CatañoJohn Lynch with Teresa Dillon (HACK THE CITY curator).

Call Open: April 19 – May 20, 2012
Selection of proposals: May 21 – 27, 2012
Call for collaborators: June 1 – July 5, 2012
Development of projects (workshop): July 11 – July 26, 2012
Exhibition of prototypes: July 27 – September 7, 2012



Interactivos?’12 Dublin: Hack the City – Current and Future Needs:

Hacking has always been associated with innovative appropriations of existing resources, re-engineering, working below the radar, and modifying structures to reap new benefits. What happens if you take the philosophy of hacking and apply it to the urban environment? When you consider innovative ways to harness the flows of energy, data and people that pass through the city every day?

Interactivos?’12 Dublin will see Medialab Prado and Science Gallery work together to set up an experimental laboratory to channel hacker culture, and allow artists, designers, makers, doers, data nerds, hobbyists, citizen scientists, tech geeks, activists, edgy engineers and DIY urban planners to take control over the resolution of problems that affect and link together worldwide ‘communities of concern’. Interactivos?’12 Dublin will move citizen science out of the garage/prototype stage and onto the street.

Interactivos?’12 Dublin is part of HACK THE CITY, Dublin’s 2012 flagship exhibition organized by Science Gallery that will engage and inspire participants to transform the city from the ground up, to rethink cities through the spirit and philosophy of the hacker ethos – to bend, mash-up, tweak and cannibalise city systems, to create possibilities, empower the citizen, illustrate visionary thinking and demonstrate real-world examples for sustainable urban futures. HACK THE CITY will capitalize on Dublin’s resources as a nimble multi-national, multi-lingual, rapidly growing European city, ideally placed to act as ‘laboratory’ for testing ideas and technologies that have a direct impact on citizens’ lives.

Orientation of the projects:

This workshop of collaborative production is looking for ideas that:

- Involve the design of objects, installations or other platforms that put the hacker ethos into practice

- Utilise open and free software and hardware technology developed through “do it yourself” (DYS) and “Do it with others”(DIWO) methodologies and working strategies

- Address current and future city needs – Specifically we are calling for projects that address:

  • Crowd Sourcing Public Data: Crowding sourcing is a means for cities citizens to improve services, however collating, mediating and providing meaningful feedback through crowd sourced data is a considerable challenge. We are seeking proposals that focus on how to crowd source data, visualize it in meaningful ways and provide feedback to both citizens and councils.
  • Wellbeing: What constitutes our sense of wellbeing in a city? Is it the way in which your street is organised, or access to resources, green spaces etc. or is it how well you know your neighbour? Within this section we are seeking proposals that address ideas focused on wellbeing, social bonds, and cohesion and community reliance.
  • Open Data Services: Over the last 18 months Dublin City Council and its local authorities have made significant advances in opening up their data. Between dublinked.ie and the Fingal Open Data (data.fingal.ie) there are now 200+ datasets online. We are interested in receiving projects, which utilise this data for artistic purposes and interventions key areas of interest including projects that focus on transport and energy.

Submission Guidelines:

From the submission to the call a maximum of 6/7 projects will be accepted for production in a two-week workshop in Science Gallery Dublin in July, 2012 during the HACK THE CITY exhibition. The selected projects will be developed with the aid of several advisors and assistants, in addition to a large group of collaborators.

The open call is aimed at designers, artists, engineers, coders, sociologists, architects, city planners, teachers, programmers, psychologists, journalists, environmentalists, or to any other person interested in the theme of this call.

Proposals may be presented by individuals or groups. Each participant or team may present as many projects as they wish.

Selected projects must be open to the participation of other interested collaborators, who will be able to contribute to the production of the pieces during the development of the workshop.

Therefore, there are two levels of involvement with the workshop:

1 – as a project leader
2 – as a collaborator in any one of the selected projects

Once the projects have been selected, the second step in the process will involve a new call for those people who would like to participate in the projects’ production as a collaborator. The call for collaborators will be open from June 1st to July 5th 2012.


Further Information please contact interactivos@sciencegallery.com or interactivos@medialab-prado.es

Science Gallery

Medialab Prado

Call for Papers:

Switch: National Culture in the Digital Age


CFP-12-14 October 2012

Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway.
contact email: irishdigitalculture@gmail.com

How will national cultures survive in the digital age? Will they be subsumed in the centripetal pull of global monoculture? Or will counter-currents and hybrid combinations thrive in a transmedia world? 2012 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of RTÉ TV – Ireland’s public television network charged with broadcasting the nation to itself: ‘a window and mirror to an evolving nation’. This year also sees the end of analogue television transmission in Ireland, marking another milestone in the nation’s switchover to digital. Beyond technological advances, this switch from existing communication models to convergent networks may well have a far-reaching impact on the idea of the nation as a finite and highly centralized construct.

Against the backdrop of this transition the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway will hold a three-day conference to explore the impact of digital technologies on national culture in Ireland and elsewhere. A central consideration of this conference will be how changes in communication and creative practices reposition national culture – in its broadest sense – in a digital age.

Since its establishment in 2003 the Huston School of Film & Digital Media has been at the forefront of digital media research. In 2006 the school introduced an MA in Digital Media and a symposium on digital narratives was held in 2007. In 2011 the school funded twelve Digital Arts and Humanities PhD students with the Moore Institute.

Papers are invited that discuss any aspect of National Culture in the Digital Age, including, but not limited to, the following:

A) Convergence Culture
Papers are invited that consider how old and new media collide, compete and work together in this era of media and technological convergence. Topics might include digital archives, approaches to the digital humanities, online newspapers, video on demand and ebooks.

B) Participation
Some see the web as a utopian realisation of the public sphere. Others suggest that it simply mirrors and reinforces real world inequalities. Papers are sought which consider this tension in relation to Ireland in the digital age. Topics might include: Piracy, Globalisation, Cultural Distribution and Access, The Digital Divide, Social Networking, Education, Electronic Tribes and Citizen Journalism.

C) Narrative
Do the possibilities offered by digital technologies (e.g. remixes, hyperlinks and open world gaming) constitute a shift away from traditional narratives to new forms of storytelling?

D) Medium Specificity
In an era where technologies convergence and audiences are migratory have the boundaries between unique means of expression (e.g. film, theatre and literature) begun to dissolve? Papers are invited that consider this development in relation to national cultural production.

The conference will be held on 12-14 October 2012.
Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words, an academic bio and contact details to the organisers Liam Burke and Tony Tracy: irishdigitalculture@gmail.com by 4 May 2012.



Papers will be 20 minutes and panels will be thematically linked.

It is the intention of the organisers to publish an edited collection, which will include articles from this conference.

Archiving the West…



The archive has been in the past inherently textual but with the advent of modern technologies the opportunity has emerged to create a more rounded archival experience of theatrical performance. This transmutation from the Real to the electronic is not only a move from the live to the archival but also challenges the role of the theatre archive within performance studies. The function of the archive changes from gatekeeper of histories to a dynamic, evolving and continuing performance, but raises the questions; Can performance be archived and if so what is the relationship between the ‘live’ performance in the real world and the digitised performance? Can the performative function of the archive be deemed ‘live’ theatre? Does the digitized and evolving performance of the version of identity as constructed by the Druid theatre company still have currency in the digital world or is it simply a more detailed version of the traditional archive? The theatre archive has always been an active and constantly evolving structure, attempting to capture the multi-faceted dynamic of a time based medium. The archive has always been servile to the performance however, being viewed as secondary to the event, a collection of scraps attempting to capture the ephemeral. With digitization, comes the opportunity to place the performance and the archive on an equal footing, both active agents in the discourse stimulated by the theatre company.

The archiving of cultural memory in the construction of our identity creates a reservoir of information to stimulate dicussions on the narratives that form a large part of our lives. Personal and public archiving is central to our notion or self- image and our value within society. This type of archiving was always problematic within performance because performance as an event is live and cannot be reproduced. Although a script can be performed endlessly and can therefore be placed in an archive, the performance itself on any given date is unique. Peggy Phelan argues that,

‘Performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented, or otherwise participate in the circulation of representations of representations: once it does so, it becomes something other than performance.’(1993:146)

Yet for Philip Auslander,

‘Live performance cannot be said to have ontological or historical priority over mediation, since liveness was made visible only by the possibility of technical reproduction.’(1999: 54)

All performance is mediatised to some degree; at the core of the theatre is its artificiality just as the role of the West of Ireland is central to the construction of an image or memory of Ireland. The performing and re-performing of a false memory surely supports the fact that the illusionary state of the theatre can also be transferred to the virtual world. It will also explore how the dynamic structure of the internet will allow for the culturally specific symbolic systems to be revitalised through digitization. If the re-performing of memory through digitisation informs historiographical issues in the same way that the traditional archive. This can untimely allow for a more in-depth exploration of cultural identity in both the Real and the digital world.

Representing this mediated version of history online is vastly different to the historical record but as Frederic Jameson notes,

‘history is only accessible to us in narrative form’ (1981:20)

Theatrical performance is fabricated, illusionary, its memory is experiential. The image of the Aran Islands is part of an ideological cultural construct that exists in the minds of the audience and is not factually accurate but the cultural ideal is still very much part of a Ireland’s image of itself. The event has passed and what remains are the residual elements that make up the performance in the memory of theatre practitioners and audience, the physical artefacts lying in the archive, the video or audio that remains. Through the process of digitisation, these elements will again form part of an ongoing dialogue surrounding the notion of Irish identity.

The heart of performance lies in its artifice, its self-referentiality with the performers and the audience willingly participating in its falsity. The mechanisms of the theatre creates a structure within modernity that like Brecht’s ‘distancing of alienation effect’ is constantly reminding the viewer of it’s artifice. For Herbert Blau

‘there is nothing more illusionary in performance than the illusion of the unmediated. It is a very powerful illusion in the theater, but it is theater, and it is theater, the truth of illusion, which haunts all performance, whether or not it occurs in the theater, where it is more than doubled over.’ (1982,’83:143)

The illusionary nature of performance lends itself well to the digital world. Neither construct is real or authentic. Digitizing the archive also allows for the mediating effect, separating the spectator from the spectacle. The archive will then move away from the ownership of the company itself and into the public domain allowing the spectator to become the participant, involving themselves in the performance project.



Colm Toibin on the Aran Islands