Thanks for commenting Malcolm and for bringing up the matter of the fourth wall. I’ll try to explain how I approach this a bit further:
- I’m only talking about mediated interactions. So any face to face experiences fall outside this framework. I’m interested in how media transform communication and interaction — from a designer’s perspective but from a theory perspective as well.
- Of course I agree with you that the audience relationship of performer — audience is a point of interest, whether unpacked in theories of performance, narration, dramatic presentation etc or via theories of expression, spectacle, and as you mention exhibition.
- That said, I’m trying to avoid the metaphor of “space,” as I think it’s misleading. There is no shared, or mutually experienced, or co-present space online. There’s a screen, and through or with it we form relationships to “audiences,” but these are psychologically constructed, both on common forms of media narrative and presentation as well as on common types of social interaction and communication. So I view all of this from an action-centric perspective (a sociological and psychological one), and try to avoid metaphors of space and place.
- On exhibition, and the manner in which social media construct and present audiences and their activity, there’s no doubt there’s a performative aspect to use of the “social screen” for self-presentation. But I would likely use Goffman and others on “presentation of the self” because they’ve done such a good job at identifying types of social interaction. The question is how are they transformed by their mediation? So on, say, tweeting or instagramming for audience response, I focus on the technical design of features that present the audience back to the user — e.g. likes, comments, views, shares, retweets and so on. That’s mediated audience response. There’s then the internalization or experience of that response by the user — confirmation, affirmation, disappointment, etc— which are I think best understood psychologically as attributes of self image which contribute to a self-understanding. So mediation of the Self then becomes an interesting topic vis-a-vis social media. Again, I think “social screen” rather captures the phenomenon (though it alone doesn’t of course explain the construction of experiences around and through it).
Hopefully this helps to explicate some of my underlying assumptions and perspectives.