“I Am Alive in Here”: Liveness, Mediation and the Staged Real of David Blaine’s Body


This article explores how mediation has impacted the meanings of David Blaine’s endurance feats Above the Below (2003) and Dive of Death (2008), using both traces of the live events found through academic and journalistic commentary, and the films made that document these performances. Using this evidence, both performances suffered from an ambivalent reception that suggested they failed to entertain on the level of high or popular culture. Mediatization plays a recuperative role in understanding Blaine’s body as a container of his power and as invulnerable, retroactively interpreting the live events so that he emerges from his ordeals triumphantly as a coherent, heroic subject. Above the Below engaged a discourse of individual transcendence that valorized the extraordinary power of Blaine’s body, while the recording of Dive of Death attempted a recovery of a stunt that was largely considered to have failed. Both these works therefore engage the potential of mediation to retrospectively interpret performance, offering a ‘version’ of the performance that can be consumed and circulated on its own terms.


David Blaine, performance, body, magic, mediatization, Liveness

How to Cite

Turner, E., (2016) ““I Am Alive in Here”: Liveness, Mediation and the Staged Real of David Blaine’s Body”, Journal of Performance Magic 4(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.5920/jpm.2016.03





Elizabeth Turner






Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

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