Technology and the Transformation of Performance

By Chris Salter

Foreword by Peter Sellars

How technologies, from the mechanical to the computational, have transformed artistic performance practices.





How technologies, from the mechanical to the computational, have transformed artistic performance practices.

This ambitious and comprehensive book explores technology's influence on artistic performance practices in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In Entangled, Chris Salter shows that technologies, from the mechanical to the computational—from a “ballet of objects and lights” staged by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1917 to contemporary technologically-enabled “responsive environments”—have been entangled with performance across a wide range of disciplines. Salter examines the rich and extensive history of performance experimentation in theater, music, dance, the visual and media arts, architecture, and other fields; explores the political, social, and economic context for the adoption of technological practices in art; and shows that these practices have a set of common histories despite their disciplinary borders.

Each chapter in Entangled focuses on a different form: theater scenography, architecture, video and image making, music and sound composition, body-based arts, mechanical and robotic art, and interactive environments constructed for research, festivals, and participatory urban spaces. Salter's exhaustive survey and analysis shows that performance traditions have much to teach other emerging practices—in particular in the burgeoning fields of new media. Students of digital art need to master not only electronics and code but also dramaturgy, lighting, sound, and scenography. Entangled will serve as an invaluable reference for students, researchers, and artists as well as a handbook for future praxis.


$50.00 X ISBN: 9780262195881 500 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 62 b&w photos, 1 b&w illus, 15 halftones


Peter Sellars.


  • Salter's Entangled is a rich source book that presents the relationship between performance art and technology in a unique and broad perspective. The manifold artworks described in this overwhelming volume testify to the continuity of artistic exploration throughout the twentieth century and show how contemporary, digitally based practices are rooted in the lasting curiosity about what it means to be human in an age of ever-evolving machine systems.

    Andreas Broeckmann

    art theorist and curator, Berlin

  • The routes we usually take to tell our stories about media, architecture, embodiment, and movement are challenged here by all-terrain travel: to warp, sing, pixilate, fly. Cross-medial engagement in a wide variety of performance practices is carefully articulated, skillfully performed, smartly theorized, and rigorously historicized, helping us shake off the habitual media-versus-live, or human-versus-machine divide to tangle our sensibilities in far more interesting claims. This is an important book.

    Rebecca Schneider

    Brown University

  • Entangled stays true to its name. It is one of those rare books that builds networks and bridges - between the body and technology, the material and the ephemeral, thinking and making.

    William Forsythe

    Artistic Director, The Forsythe Company, Frankfurt Germany