My PhD project is provisionally entitled Live, here and now: experiences of liveness in everyday engagements with connective media.
Liveness – the state or condition of being ‘live’ – has been for decades a crucial topic in media and communications research. In the current media environment, we witness once again a proliferation of platforms that foreground ‘the live’ as one of their main attractions. Interestingly, the claims of direct experience made by different connective (so-called ‘social’) media repeat to a great extent those made by the mass media in preceding decades: a commitment to an ephemeral, irreproducible, and therefore authentic experience; an immediate access to the world and its happenings, as they unfold, and ‘as if you are there’; and the creation of a sense of collectivity, community, and meaningful shared viewership. And although real-time video streaming is the most evident manifestation of it in the current mediascape, this project argues that the claim of liveness underlies, with varied degrees of subtlety, social media’s claims and functionalities more generally. Thus, I should stress that this is not a research project centrally, or necessarily, interested in live-streaming applications.
Bearing this in mind, I start from the premise that the “live” is directly connected with our perceptions of time and space, and that these relations have been shifted and complexified by the incorporation and embeddedness of digital media technologies, which affect our capacities of connecting and making sense of ourselves, of others, and of the world. In this project, liveness is provisionally defined as the experience of immediate connection through media. In this regard, to examine ‘the live’ is to study media providing (or claiming to provide) the obliteration of temporal, spatial, and/or social distances while often veiling their own role as mediators in these processes. In sum, my aim is to explore the potentially varied experiences of liveness that emerge through different articulations in our current media manifold, where connective platforms constantly encourage senses of instantaneity, co-presence, ephemerality, authenticity, and interactivity through the continuous use of temporal, spatial, and social prompts, in order to obtain the digital footprints necessary to their market operation.