Open Peer Commentary: Audience and Autopoiesis

Bruce Clarke, Dorothy Chansky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Tom Scholte introduces his directorial experiment as part of a research agenda concerned with "the ways in which [⋯]the Stanislavski system of acting can consistently generate 'believable' performances [⋯] but also [⋯] questions regarding the mechanisms through which observers (audiences) assign this sense of 'belief' as well as 'meaning' to these performances" (§2). To open, or "whiten," the Black Box of such theatrical phenomena, Scholte adapts Ranulph Glanville's elaboration of Norbert Wiener's evocation of James Clerk Maxwell's invention of the idea of the black box to denote any system for which we can make external observations of its behavior - for instance, that inputs of one sort produce outputs of another sort - while lacking knowledge regarding the internal processes by which these behaviors are produced. In Glanville's summary, Maxwell posited the notion of the black box⋯ in order that he could justify the building of functioning descriptions (i.e., in his case, equations) that accounted for the observed behavior of some phenomenon when the workings of that phenomenon were not clearly visible. (Glanville 1982: 1) Glanville noted that Maxwell was previously the author of a fictive "demon," and we would add that along with the invention of the Demon as a kind of "supernatural" observer, Maxwell's thought experiment also placed his Demon within a box-like apparatus, a sort of proto-black box for the Demon to inhabit and within which to work its white scientific magic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-295
Number of pages4
JournalSeries on Knots and Everything
StatePublished - 2017


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