Media, Communication, Digitalization
In text-based scholarship, the multimodality, emergence, and interactivity of performance do not readily lend themselves to empirical study. Much is lost, much remains beyond reach. A philology of performance (Arps 2016) that makes good use of the affordances of multimedial methods of representation may help. Here I examine the performative creation of affect—difficult to study “on paper”—to illustrate one way in which web-based multimedial philology can be done and what understandings it may yield.
The examples are from Indonesia. The extensive repertoire of traditional narrative/dramatic performance is characterized inter alia by certain juxtapositions and fluctuations of emotion, character, or mood; in short by configurations of affect. I will illustrate these by means of a multifaceted personage who appears in literature, rod and shadow puppetry, storytelling and oral drama, costumed drama (from courtly dance-opera to folksy slapstick), and dance. This is Umarmaya, a key protagonist in the adventures of Amir Hamza, the famous Islamic epic once told from Turkey to Mindanao.
In Indonesia, Umarmaya may appear as devoted friend, trickster, Muslim official, dancer, ferocious warrior (armed with a deadly beam of light), messianic figure, or clown-servant. The complex spectrum of affect attached to Umarmaya in his interactions brings together the cultural categories of wisdom, loyalty, Islamic ritual and mythology (even futurology), humour, performance, and violence. Hence my approach: zoom in on this character, represented performatively through the interplay of music, language, and mise-en-scène, in short stretches of plot.