The West Australian Goldfields Live Performance Mapping Project at Murdoch University explores the interface between two paradoxical frontiers: the technologically innovative AusStage Mapping Service, designed to map data on Australian live performance; and an historic body of live performance events that took place at remote Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie between 1892 and 1899, now only accessible in the archive. The project explores the capacity of this paradox to generate qualitative insights into Goldfields live performance culture during its formative period. The methodology is to use historical town site maps, and tabular data sets of live performance events on the Goldfields, to map the contribution that stage entertainments made to an evolving 'thick autonomy' of cultural identity at the frontier communities. Live performance is understood here as embodied collective memory and as a social relation to power, intimately concerned with local community welfare, but also linked into a broader nexus of imperial capitalism, emergent Goldfields rivalry with Perth, and escalating racism in the region. Maps are synoptic by convention, flattening the temporality of events onto terrain. Yet our approach to the cartography of live performance in AusStage brings time and motion to the fore. While events are characterised by their duration and venues persist between events as locations, artists and companies are mobile agents, attracting an audience to a venue for the duration of an event and then moving on. Time-range controls, time-series animation, historical layers of cartography and the tracking of artists’ trajectories are revealing the time-space dynamics of live performance
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