Around, alongside, inside, and in-between: The geometries of performance in contemporary U.S. play and film

Piotr A Skuza, University of Rhode Island


Divided into four consecutive chapters, The Geometries of Performance is a study of how Don DeLillo's play Valparaiso and Barry Levinson's film production Wag the Dog both demonstrate and inform readers, spectators, and viewers, through the performative nature of both sources, about the intersections of Patricia Pisters's notion of "camera consciousness" and Roy Ascott's "network consciousness": how such intersections are formed, how they emerge and operate in the contexts of modern technologies of perception, and how they affect contemporary audience. ^ In chapter 1, "Valparaiso: Möbius Strip I or, In the Regime of Monads (Tell us everything')," I study Don DeLillo's play through the lenses of Gilles Deleuze's notion of "hollow depth." It is a "flat" reading of the play that subjugates human subjects to the omnipotence of the surrounding technologies of perception. ^ Chapter 2, "Valparaiso: Möbius Strip II or, In the Depths of Nomads (Don't submit to my will')," offers a Deleuzian "full depth" reading of the same play. Examined from this magnified angle, the text indicates that the uncontested power of the technologies of perception is ultimately subverted, the process enabled by the "aberrant," nomadic movement inscribed in the very fabric of the technologies in question. ^ Chapter 3, titled "The Anamorphic Politics of Truths in Wag the Dog," is a study of the film from the "anamorphic" perspective. Resting upon Alain Badiou's renowned study of ethics, this complex investigation becomes and exemplifies a mobilizing technique of viewing that results in a reformed perception as an integral part of a healthy process of cultural self-examination. ^ The last chapter, "Viewers as Con-scious Actors," is a meditation on the ways in which contemporary viewers are affected by the various technologies of perception studied in the texts above. Bringing together the complexity of different theoretical perspectives within the entire project, I conclude that the intricate relationship between human subjects and technologies of perception is an ongoing global performance, or what I term "planetary inter-con-nectedness," a peculiar tension in the game of human and technological interdependence. ^

Subject Area

Theater|Literature, American|Cinema

Recommended Citation

Piotr A Skuza, "Around, alongside, inside, and in-between: The geometries of performance in contemporary U.S. play and film" (2010). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3415522.