Performance art refers largely to a performance which is presented to an audience but which does not seek to present a conventional theatrical play or a formal linear narrative, or which alternately does not seek to depict a set of fictitious characters in formal scripted interactions. It therefore will often include some form of action or spoken word which is a form of direct communication between the artist and audience, rather than a script written beforehand.
It often entails a dramatic performer who is directly aware of and in communication with the audience, much the same as a singer or juggler in a concert or variety show might be said to perform directly for an audience, rather than creating a fictitious character who inhabits a fictitious dramatic setting on the stage. Performance art often breaks the fourth wall, meaning that the performance artist does not seek to behave as if unaware of the audience.
Some performance art may utilize a script or create a fictitious dramatic setting, but still constitutes performance art in that it does not seek to follow the usual dramatic norm of creating a fictitious setting with a linear script which follows conventional real-world dynamics; rather, it would intentionally seek to satirize or to transcend the usual real-world dynamics which are used in conventional theatrical plays. In this way, the performance work itself partakes of a form of direct communication with the audience, by relying on the audience's familiarity with nominal dramatic premises and norms, in order to go beyond them or circumvent them, even if the characters within the work themselves do not evince such awareness.
Although performance art could be said to include relatively mainstream forms of performance such as dance, music, and circus-related things like fire breathing, juggling, and gymnastics, these are normally instead known as the performing arts. Performance art is a term usually reserved to refer to a more conceptual art which conveys a content-based meaning in a more drama-related sense, rather than being simple performance for its own sake for entertainment purposes. Furthermore, performance art can include any type of physical stage performance which is not an exhibition of direct artistry such as theater, music or dance, but rather incorporates satirical or conceptual elements; an example of this is Blue Man Group.
In performance art, the actions of an individual or a group at a particular place and in a particular time constitute the work. Performance art can happen anywhere, in any venue or setting and for any length of time. Performance art can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer's body and a relationship between performer and audience. Performance art traditionally involves the artist and other actors, but works like Survival Research Laboratories' pieces, utilizing robots and machines without people, may also be seen as an offshoot of performance art. In some cases,the audience unwittingly becomes part of that performance.
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