Sunday, February 28, 2016

Core Post #3:: Performance and Collective Authorship


If acting is impersonation then who is the author? If performance is the actualization of the text, and if actualization encodes within it technical and creative labor, then who is the author? If the audience is dynamically integrated in the processes of signification then who is the author? Barry Hill's Articulating Stardom is concerned with how stars are constructed out of the interplay of representation and identification and how then stardom is an adaptive resource that delimits acting, interpretation and impersonation.

This essay delineates the different ways characters, personalities and images structure, organize and act as conduits for the the transference between the audience and the authors. My main interest throughout this essay was the idea of collective authorship, which neatly segues into a framework for collective ownership. This is particularly relevant given that as I write this, my twitter feed is burgeoning with discussions on the Oscars. The awards season is known to hierarchize various forms of labor, actors and directors often function as the "faces" of a film, while the producers are the film's more latent backbone. Other creative workers are relegated to their segmented positions -- costume designer, editor, cinematographer, etc. Rarely do those who are compartmentalized represent the totality of the film.

Why?

King's, concerned with the economy of the star system and cultural significance, provides intellectual excavation that collapses these hierarchies; it showcases the way in which how even though acting is subsumed in performance, it often gets equated with it. Actors, galvanized with the hypersemiotics of their characters, their public/private selves, the host ecosystem of which they are a part, get credited with the sole ownership of their performances and characters. King lambasts this logic, referring to being "authored" as "meaning emergent from a collective art of representation." This is incredibly exciting for anyone who thinks about the relationships between bodies, culture, labor and capital (me). King's articulations on stardom helped me inch closer to a film world which does not operate through machinations of hierarchies of celebrity, but one that acknowledges its allegiance to the audience and the processes of signification it is engendering, and also one that understands that "authorship" cannot encumber the labor contributions of "lesser" bodies. 

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