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One Step Forward, One Step Back: Resisting the Forensic Turn

Frieze, J (2016) One Step Forward, One Step Back: Resisting the Forensic Turn. In: Performance and Participation Practices, Audiences, Politics. Palgrave, pp. 189-208. ISBN 1137393181

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Conceived and directed by Tristan Sharps, dreamthinkspeak’s One Step Forward, One Step Back occupied Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral for a month in 2008, running in acerbic counterpoint to the culmination of The Paradise Project—the vast shopping area now known as Liverpool One. As in many other immersive, promenade works, we are cast as detective-participants following (what I call) a ‘story-trail’ of clues. While the story-trails that we follow in the work of Punchdrunk are well documented, there has been little theorization of the forensic methodology from which these story-trails spring. To culturally and comparatively contextualize the work of dreamthinkspeak and Punchdrunk, I apply and interrogate Marie-Laure Ryan’s paradigm of ‘epistemic immersion’ (deriving from her virtual-reality game theory), Lindsay Steenberg’s paradigm of the forensic aesthetic manifest in American popular culture, and Janet Marstine’s conception of ‘the new museum’ in which found, buried and imagined objects are brought to life through viscerally participatory, simulational experiences. In each of these paradigms, the interactive, multi-media mystery-story emerges as the prototypical manifestation of a forensic turn—a cultural turn that can be defined as an ‘all-deducing’ way of looking at the world in which ‘evidence is the nexus of meaning’. Whereas Punchdrunk strive to blur illusion and reality and continually promise access to evidence, One Step Forward interrogates this blurring and promising. Newspaper reviews focus (enthusiastically) on Sharps’s vision, failing to address the ways that the piece consistently interrupts and troubles vision. I highlight the lacunae—gaps in the event’s establishing of a convincing world—that are crucial to the impact of the piece. These lacunae exert palpable jolts in which we our own searching is reflected back at us, disrupting the forensic aesthetic that underpins most story-trail performances.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Performing Arts
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Divisions: Screen School
Publisher: Palgrave
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2018 10:57
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 21:04
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8784
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