On Appearance, or what the Loch Ness Monster can teach us about contemporary performance

Watkinson, Philip (2018) On Appearance, or what the Loch Ness Monster can teach us about contemporary performance. Performance Research, 23 (4-5). pp. 251-255. ISSN 1352-8165

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This essay employs the figure of the Loch Ness Monster as an anchor and an allegory for the operations of affect and appearance in contemporary performance. More specifically, I examine the dialectical relationships between the two, and explore how appearance performs when a critical project seeks to grasp reality as it exists apart from any subjective embellishments. Drawing on eyewitness accounts and continental philosophy, I claim that the Monster objectivizes a fundamental feature of subjectivity, namely the tension between appearance and reality, and that this tension is performed by the subjects who perceive it. As a performance of subjectivity, the Loch Ness Monster is simultaneously dependent on and exists independently of its material context. This analysis poses a challenge and a reminder to theatre and performance studies, where the possibility of affect being inherent to the contradictory relationship between appearance and reality must be fully accounted for in theoretical terms.

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Journal Article
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Performance Research
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23 Aug 2023 14:20
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 03:28