TaPRA 2023, Performance and New Technologies Working Group: Narratives of Democratisation, Advanced Capitalism and Precarious Labour within Technologically Enabled Performances

Deadline: Tuesday 11 April 2023

Performance and New Technologies Working Group
Narratives of Democratisation, Advanced Capitalism and Precarious Labour within Technologically Enabled Performances
TaPRA 2023, 30 August – 1 September, The University of Leeds

In 2023, the Performance and New Technologies Working Group is exploring narratives about contemporary intermedial practices in the post-pandemic world. Perspectives and dialogue that problematise narratives of democratisation, advanced capitalism and precarious labour have been recurring during our PNT WG meetings in the past few years. In light of these timely and urgent topics, we will dedicate our Annual Conference to debates that explore the complex relations which occur within technologically enabled performances that refer to democratisation and/or advanced capitalism and/or precarious labour. Simultaneously, there is a growing field exploring the impacts of interaction on narrative and traditional notions of narratology within digitally-enabled performances and games. Thus this conference explores both narratives about technology and narratives experienced through technology.

Contemporary discourses about new technologies are driven by multiple narratives – contradictory, complementary or parallel. For instance: Anne Applebaum and Peter Pomerantsev’s narrative states that: ‘our democratic habits have been killed off by an internet kleptocracy that profits from disinformation, polarization, and rage’ (The Atlantic, 2021). While Precarity Lab manifests a narrative in which ‘[l]ife in network cultures is a series of economic disruptions that have produced radical inequality’ (Precarity Lab, 2019). Precarity Lab emphasises the need to contribute to the development of new alternative narratives, that will critically scrutinise discourses about the digital age under contemporary ‘racial capitalism’, ‘surveillance capitalism’, ‘platform capitalism’. According to them, the current narratives within ‘digital theories (..) instrumentalize critiques of the new digital economy only to affirm the same masculinist, white hierarchies of values and meaning. They exclude the analysis of race, gender, and sexuality, whether explicitly or implicitly; they produce only the same answers for the same people (Precarity Lab, 2019, 78). On the other hand, there are futuristic narratives which posit the possibility of moving away from late capitalist regimes. For instance, in his book PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future (2015) Paul Mason contends that postcapitalism will inevitably replace what is commonly understood as late capitalism. Drawing on Nicolai Kondratiev’s ‘wave theory’, alongside theories by Rudolf Hilferding, Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg and Joseph Schumpeter, Mason argues that postcapitalism has the potential to reshape and reconfigure our commonly understood notions of labour, value and production processes, posing an existential threat to a global monetary economy driven by markets, neoliberal mentality and private ownership. He also contends that many of the changes conducive towards a postcapitalist future are already taking place. This is evident from the proliferation and growing dominance of the open-source digital economy, crypto currencies, co-operatives, asymptotical reduction of digital production costs and a progressive replacement of human labour by A.I. technologies (Mason 2015). While Mason’s theories have been critiqued in various ways, they nevertheless provide valuable food for thought.

Thus, in the context of recent technological advancements and ever-growing precarious politico-economic realities, we would like to invite participants to engage with the following questions:

How do we narrate democratisation/ advanced capitalism/ precarious labour within technologically enabled performances? How do narratives about democratisation, and/or advanced capitalism, and/or precarious labour shape technologically enabled performances? How does experiencing performance in a mediated way extend or alter our existing understanding of narrative, narratology or dramaturgy?

We welcome practice-based responses, provocations, lecture-demonstrations, panel proposals and papers exploring and reflecting on various readings, approaches and interpretations of narratives about/within contemporary intermedial practices that refer to democratisation, and/or advanced capitalism and/or precarious labour.

Proposals may respond to, but are not limited by, the following prompts:

  • Postcapitalist vectors in technologically enabled performance
  • A.I. agency and democratisation in contemporary intermedial practice
  • Precarious labour in technologically enabled performance
  • An A.I. actor prepares
  • Systemic biases in technologically enabled performance
  • Surveillance capitalism, racial capitalism and intermedial practice
  • Cyberformance/online performance and its relationship with multinational corporations (Zoom, Alphabet, Meta etc.)
  • The (in)visible environmental impact of technologically enabled performance
  • Neoliberalism and audience behaviour in digital performance
  • Power dynamics in human/computer artistic collaborations

We invite diverse modes of sharing research, including, but not limited to, short provocations, practice demonstrations, performative presentations, formal papers, etc. Please indicate your preference of format clearly in your proposal, with a specific breakdown of any technical requirements. We will endeavour to accommodate all requests, but please be aware that we are working within finite resources and we may need to suggest alternative formats.

Conference structure

The 2023 annual TaPRA conference at the University of Leeds will be a hybrid event, facilitating participation by online delegates alongside those attending in-person.

Since our conference in 2021, we have been able to experience many benefits of online conferencing, such as increased opportunity for international presenters, lower financial costs to participate, greater accessibility for those with caring responsibilities etc. The 2023 conference at Leeds aims to retain the wider opportunities for engagement that online platforms offer, whilst also creating a space for in-person engagement and social interaction.

In the event of a cancellation of in-person conference activities due to, for instance, COVID restrictions, the event would run entirely online and all registered in person delegates would be offered the opportunity to attend as online delegates, with the difference between in-person and online registration fees refunded.

Process for submitting a proposal

Please email abstracts (no more than 300 words in length), and an additional few sentences of biographical information to the Working Group Convenors at perfandnewtech@tapra.org by 23.59 on 11 April 2023.

IMPORTANT: Please indicate at the point of submission if you intend to attend the conference in person or online. This information is vital so that the conference organisers can effectively plan the infrastructure for the event and Working Group Convenors can schedule panel sessions effectively.

You should also indicate if you have any specific requirements relating to space or AV technology as part of this submission.

Please note: You may only submit a proposal to one working group (or else the PaR Gallery) for this conference, proposals submitted after the deadline will not be considered. You can, however, include an optional second choice of Working Group (this can also include the TaPRA Gallery, where appropriate). If we are unable to accept your proposal, we will then pass it on to your second choice for consideration. Your proposal will not be less likely to be accepted by our Working Group if you indicate a second choice.


Working Group Convenors will inform you whether or not your proposal has been accepted as quickly as possible and by no later than 3 May 2023. Convenors will offer brief summary feedback to all proposals that could not be accommodated. ​​Please note that putting together a full draft schedule for the conference is a complex process, particularly as all sessions will need to be accessible to delegates attending in person and online. Therefore, your patience while this process is ongoing, and prompt responses to acceptances, are much appreciated. Convenors will have completed their draft schedules by the end of May 2023.

Conference costs

The early bird registration fee will be:

£220 standard in person attendance
£120 concession in person attendance
£88 standard online attendance
£48 online concession online attendance

Prices will increase to the following after 23 June 2023:
£250 standard in person attendance
£150 concession in person attendance
£100 online attendance
£60 online concession attendance

All of the above conference fees include TaPRA membership for one year (£35 standard / £17 concession) starting 30 August 2023.

​On-campus ​conference accommodation will cost £58 per night.

Please note: All presenters must be registered for the conference by 14 July 2023; this includes those presenting online.

If you have registered for in person attendance and find yourself unable to attend you will be able to access the conference as an online delegate but will not be eligible for a refund.

Concession definition: Concession rates apply to all postgraduate researchers, unwaged, unaffiliated, and retired researchers, and staff on contracts of either less than 0.6FTE or else fixed for less than 12 months. These categories apply to the attendee’s circumstances on the first day of the conference.


These financial awards support presenters who are postgraduate researchers or unaffiliated/contingent faculty. One award is available for each working group (14 total). Awards can support individuals or teams (i.e., co-presenters). The awards cover:
  • Conference fee waiver;
  • One-year TaPRA membership; and
  • Access to a discretionary fund (maximum £300 per award*) to cover expenses and access costs, such as: travel; accommodation; sustenance; digital access; childcare etc.

These awards are highly competitive and we encourage everyone who is able to secure institutional support where possible. Applications for bursaries must be made at the same time you submit your proposal to the Working Group. This must be within the same document as your abstract/bio.

If applying for a bursary, please include the following:

  • Whether you are applying as a postgraduate or unaffiliated/contingent faculty member;
  • Whether you are applying for an individual or joint award*;
  • A statement of up to 100 words explaining why you are applying for the bursary; and
  • An outline of any expenses/access needs for which you would like to apply to the discretionary fund – including details of expected costs.
Application criteria:
  • Quality and strength of the submitted abstract; and
  • Strategic case made by the WG convenors outlining the significance of the applicant’s contribution to the WG sessions (connection to advertised theme, methodological approach, expected outcomes).

Conveners in each working group will consider applications according to the criteria above and will nominate one application to put forward for a bursary. Final decisions about awards, including requests for expenses and access costs, will be made by the TaPRA Executive Committee by 12 May. Notifications will be issued shortly thereafter.

* The discretionary fund of £300 is available per award, whether the application is to support an individual or a team. I.e., an award made to a team of two presenters means they have access to £300 between them, not each.

TaPRA at the University of Leeds

TaPRA 2023 will be held at the University of Leeds, 30 August – 1 September. The conference will take place on the university campus, with working group sessions and keynote talks held in the Michael Sadler Building, named after a notable figure in the history of modern art in Britain. The main plenary will take place in live streaming enabled Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre, with additional sessions taking place in breakout rooms across the grade II listed, art deco Parkinson building. Performances will make use of a variety of dedicated performance spaces including the Workshop Theatre, Banham Theatre and stage@leeds.

The conference dinner will be held in The Refectory, a beautiful contemporary venue at the heart of the main campus famous for its musical history. The Rolling Stones, Elton John and Bob Marley have all graced this venue with their presence and perhaps one of the most famous live recordings ever made, The Who Live at Leeds, was recorded here. On campus, accommodation is available during the conference at our flagship residence, Storm Jameson Court. Offering a 24 hour reception and access to a large social space this is an ideal place to stay. Guests of Storm Jameson are also able to make use of the on campus gym and pool facilities at the recently renovated Edge Gym.

Please note: only one proposal may be submitted for a TaPRA event. It is not permitted to submit multiple proposals or submit the same proposal to several Calls for Participation. All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the event; this includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast even where the presenter may not physically attend the event venue.

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