Tuomas Laitinen


Doctoral research project (2017-) in a nutshell:




Performances are prepared with diligence and expertise by carefully chosen and professional working groups. When everything is finalized, enters the audience — an accidental community of unprepared, unknown subjects. The relationship between the audience and the performance and its makers is highly asymmetric. What is the function of this asymmetry? Why is the audience there? What do they want? What do they create?

The context of my research is the field of participatory, experiential, relational and immersive performances, which take the audience as part of their artistic material, process and even authorship.  Why is the reception of performances that experiment with spectatorship so confusing, while the reception of art has been thought about since Aristotle? In my research I aim to disclose features of the audience position and its functions. For now, I speculate that these features include being unprepared (non- or parapractice), being multiple (polyphony), convening in accidental formations (temporary or artificial communities) and compositions of parallel and contrasting relations. At the moment I am drafting methodological tools for the research, based more or less on these features.

As the first phase of the research, I am trying to place the subjectivity of 1) myself as an artist-researcher and of 2) the spectator / performance attendee, on the field of artistic research and the research of spectatorship. Artistic research from the perspective of the audience does not seem to exist yet — the subject of artistic research is almost exclusively the author of art works. On the other hand on the field of non-artistic art theory dealing with spectatorship, the subjectivity of the spectator is often, though not always, left unclear. Exceptions omitted, research repeats the situation of a performance: the audience is unknown and what happens in them, to them and between them, remains hidden and non-artistic.

Is this how it should be? Do the murky waters of audience subjectivity have a purpose? Is there an artistic parapractice worth articulating taking place in performance audiences? What is the art of attending performances?