Chris Salter – Entangled: Technology and the Transformation of Performance

Chris Salter

The MIT Press, 480 pages, English, ISBN-13: 978-0262195881
There are few books that can be described as “essential” in a specific field. This is one of them. Salter extensively explores performances intertwined with technology in all the major contemporary domains (theatre, music, dance, visual arts, architecture, interactive environments), advocating its centrality. Although vast in size (more than 400 pages), this is a very focused research project and extremely consistent – a rare quality in expansive works. Salter succeeds in finding and connecting historical performances and their use of technology in meaningful stage-based convergences. In this respect the different media (and techniques) that have evolved since the end of the nineteenth century and the cultural, political and social domains that have generated the staged content have composed unifying scenarios well worth examining. In this field, in fact, one of the most discussed contrasts of mediated culture is expressed: bodies, mechanisms and machines seamlessly producing sense together, while representing opposites. Skillfully integrating quotes from abundant theorists with works that span the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the author purposefully adopts a “democratic” approach, drawing a precious map that is inclusive of both significant and marginal facts, instead of just celebrating famous acts. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the pictures accompanying the text are a small resource in themselves, making this a definitive reference point for new media studies in general.