Within the framework of the Spectator School’s creation, we started from the principle that the analysis of performative works for a professor or a researcher is not an easy task since, in essence, these works are ephemeral and cannot be reproduced identically. For the analysis of plays (in our case) it is essential for the researcher to have access to the elements that document their creation (photos, drawings of the staging, sets, costumes, press clippings, etc.), but we know that these elements are not easily and clearly accessible because they are very numerous and very often scattered among the different participants in the creation of a show.
Starting from this observation, it seemed logical to us to think about a way to get around these difficulties, and it is in this that lies the interest of the digital tool which will be, more precisely, a tool of analysis and annotation of videos of shows adapted to the study of performative works. Concretely, the e-spect@tor digital tool will allow, within the framework of the virtual Spectator’s School, the annotation of videos thanks to the already existing software: Celluloïd. Celluloïd has been created in 2015 by Laurent Tessier, researcher in Sociology and Michaël Bourgatte, researcher in Information and Communication Sciences as a web application, both at the Institut Catholique de Paris. It proposes the (individual or group) annotation of video documents from Youtube 1. We chose to rely on this accessible tool because it seemed to us to be perfectly adapted to our needs since it allows spectators to record their impressions and thoughts at the precise moments that come to mind, as is the case when they attend a performative work.
However, in order to best fit our wishes for the research work, the e-spectator tool will bring complementary functionalities to those already existing in Celluloid. For example, we decided to add a “performance mode” (the video cannot be stopped, to allow spontaneous annotations) and an “analysis mode” (the video can be stopped and the annotations will be suggested to the spectator thanks to the creation of a lexical database specific to the live performance).
Moreover, we want to give the user the possibility to access other videos than those hosted not only by Youtube or another video host but also on his own database. In order to give the opportunity to the user to be able to create his own collection of videos, another feature has been included into the tool as this resource is an archive of the live show: in concrete terms, the user has the possibility to provide a list of metadata, the fifteen of the Dublin Core elements set2 concerning the video he has decided to upload before annotating. Fourthly, all the analysis data created during the annotation can be extracted in order to allow manipulation outside the software if needed and to share it with other researchers.
But we also thought that, in order to facilitate the treatment and the analysis of all the data created by the user on his own or in a collective work, is required the creation of an ontology specific to the Performing Arts.
That’s why a group composed of teachers, researchers in “Performing Arts” and in Digital Humanities, and authors and actors practicing in the performing arts, is currently carrying out a thorough analysis in order to meet this epistemological need. The vocabulary obtained at the end of this work will be integrated into the digital tool, which will facilitate categorization and structuring when users extract data.
The Spectator’s School project aims to enhance the value of research in the Performing Arts, particularly through digital technology. The purpose is to advance the study of performative works and to make their production and documentation easily accessible and analyzable thanks to digital technology. The Spectator School intends to contribute to the theoretical and epistemological mutation of the field by associating research and training around two experiences of performance: real and virtual.
- At the time of writing, the creation of new projects on the Celluloïd application is no longer possible due to the deactivation of the API by the video hosting website Youtube. Laurent Tessier and Michaël Bourgatte explained the reasons for this on the research notebook dedicated to Celluloïd in May 2020: the solution envisaged to date is to “turn to free and open source video hosting solutions, first and foremost PeerTube“.
- the fifteen elements of the Dublin Core are the following : contributor, coverage, creator, date, description, format, identifier, language, publisher, relation, rights, source, subject, title, type.