In front of our eyes: Presence and the cognitive audience

Richard Ralley, Roy Connolly

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Abstract

Despite the growing body of literature on ‘presence’, there remain relatively few hypotheses that address the central question of what presence is or attempt to account for, and detail, the processes with which presence is associated. We ask what presence is and explore the processes that enable, constrain, and thus characterise the communicative circuit between audience and performance. In doing so, we emphasise an embodied view of the human that locates the mind and its experiences in the processes and purposes of bodily action rather than in perceptual representation or phenomenology, and draw upon views that suggest there is a functional basis for presence and its mysterious phenomenal quality. We argue that cognitive science has a significant contribution to make to critical perspectives that locate the performance-audience relationship in social and cultural phenomena via its concerns with emotion, meaning, memory, perception, attention and consciousness. It has a particularly distinctive contribution to make to debate by arguing that the component processes of communication (such as theory of mind, empathy, semantic understanding, perception, and intersubjectivity) are contingent on direct contact with the world and constrained by evolved mechanisms that automatically attune the mind to external events and other people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-66
JournalAbout Performance
Volume10
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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    Ralley, R., & Connolly, R. (2010). In front of our eyes: Presence and the cognitive audience. About Performance, 10, 51-66.