Absent Sitter


Absent Sitters


Multiple Times

Online performance

A virtual séance for culture in 2020

An unsettling portrayal of culture in 2020 and a reflection on what we’ve missed, Absent Sitters is a digitally abstracted online audiovisual experience.

Be transported from your chair and through your screen to explore the missing performance.

In this intimate, shared event, you will be guided by a performer medium to investigate what is live performance in 2020? Are we live? Can we connect? Who are you?

One of the UK’s most vital contemporary voices in electronic music – Gazelle Twin, in collaboration with artist and filmmaker, Kit Monkman and the University of York, Music Department (UoYMD), experiment with a new form of performance.

Taking part via video call, you will become part of an online audio-visual experience that examines the power of ‘collective imagination’ and the importance of ‘presence/absence’ in a live event.

Absent Sitters is brought to you as a world premiere by York Mediale.

A Creative Exercise in Absence 

Absent Sitters was conceived and developed through a series of intensive residencies. All interested parties came together to investigate and test what the boundaries of live music performance could be in 2020, experimenting with film, photography, FX, theatre, immersive and spatial sound. For further reading on the process that brought the production to life, see the A Creative Exercise in Absence from our Exec Producer Mark Carlin. 

The work coalesced into three critical areas of enquiry: 

  • How is the ‘dynamics’ and ‘atmosphere’ of a live performance generated in a dialogue between performer and audience as an act of collective imagination? How present must a performer be to engender a sense of ‘liveness’..? What’s the audience’s role in generating an ‘atmosphere’ at live events?
  • How artistic exploration and viable creation might be catalysed and enabled by immersive technology and narrative storytelling
  • How the use of technology might create a fundamental shift in the gender inequalities of the performance sector by creating possibilities for experiences to be made without the artist’s presence

An Added Dimension

The team could not have foretold how Absent Sitters, conceived initially in 2019, and the themes it was looking to investigate would be accentuated and accelerated by a global pandemic. Little did they know that we would all be facing a world where the very essence of ‘liveness’ would be a question with which we would all have to grapple. 

At York Mediale 2020, the first iteration of the project and will premiere as an online audio-visual experience for only six people at a time. It will be the first in what we hope to be a series of project iterations. The audience will play a central role in developing the next stage of what Absent Sitters concept.

It will be a documentation of absence. A reflection on what we’ve missed, of what’s been absent during the pandemic. An investigation into how we might imagine new ways and means of connecting again in the future. It will be a meditative and unsettling portrayal of these times that we’re living.

A seance for culture in 2020.

Supported By

York University
Absent Sitters — York Mediale
Absent Sitters — York Mediale
Absent Sitters — York Mediale

Research Partners

Absent Sitters — York Mediale

The Artists

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