“absolute access” is a phrase that was part of the final line of Madeline Beckett artist statement. Mads is my housemate, a wonderfully amazing performance artist and someone that I’m constantly arguing with. Poor Joel, our other housemate who is constantly caught in the middle of lengthy debates on liveness and mediation. Mads’ argument sits in almost complete opposition to mine – a stubbornly brilliant argument that the live can never, ever, be replicated. To sum it up in my own words (perhaps quite badly), Mads emphatically argues that the live moment is a force (form) that establishes an emotionally charged connection between the present bodies, and this unique and heightened charge should not be diluted through reproduction. It is this that we are forgetting in our age of absolute access.
My own position is far more ambiguous. But that phrase ‘absolute access’ has, and continues to, resonate. What is the main objective of making live works accessible? Is it simply for commodification? Is it to problematise the relationship between the live and the recorded? Is it to have a more inclusive approach to live art? Is there a connection between the rise in acceptance of accessibility and developments of the network? Is there a connection between accessibility and a neo-liberal state of affairs? Is accessibility about democracy and inclusivity? Or is it about commodity and excess? Is absolute access, absolute excess a bad thing? Eg, how much should things be made accessible, and to what ends? What, as an artist, do you make public and how?
That last question stemmed out of a conversation with Susan Gibb in the lead up to the group exhibition “Public Thinking” at 55 Sydenham Rd, Marrickville.