The term "live" as used in the context of audiovisual presentations did not come into being in reference to human beings but rather to describe a specific temporal dimension of medial-technological transmission. Therefore the question, 'What is live?' will be discussed here primarily, not in terms of its relevance for media-based audiovisual live performances but rather – in the media-archaeological and media-epistemological sense – at a deeper level. What constitutes the presence-generating power of the media when considered from the recipients' perspective, and what actually takes place at the technical level? This inquiry (in neo-cybernetic terms) shifts thus from the medias' intrinsic performative, dramaturgical level to the operative level of realtime signal processing such as occurs in electronic and neural circuits. The field of electrically generated communication (which the anglophone media sciences like to call the "Hertzean media") is distinguished precisely owing to its ability to generate presence (vulgo "liveness"), and man's internal clock gives way to it affectively whereas, at the cognitive level, that consciousness of distance linked to symbolic codes (texts, the alphabet) predominates – which amounts to a remarkable affective-cognitive dissonance.
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