COMBINED MEDIA T H E O RY RE-THINKING DIGITAL MEDIA AND LIVE PERFORMANCE BY STEVE ZAPYTOWSKI INTRODUCTION Beginning in the mid 1970s the ever accelerating rate of technological advancement held a promise of impacting our professional lives in ways that once seemed impossible and even unimaginable. This potential was most exciting, but one of the earliest and most difficult challenges we faced was that of our own accessibility to this ongoing digital revolution. The costs for the hardware were great and well beyond the means of most people and institutions involved with theatre. In 1984 the author once described a vision involving computers as a tool for the theatre artist to a noted computing expert. He interrupted the account before it was finished. Such things were simply impossible and could never happen. They were far beyond the capability of even the university's main frame machine, and the cost of the required memory might bankrupt a small nation. Most of what he said was accurate, except the statement involving the word never. Obstacles fell over time as the costs of technology continually dropped while the amount of raw computing horsepower a dollar could buy climbed at exponential rates. These advances made the digital revolution accessible to theatre practitioners far sooner than most people could have predicted. Coupled with similar advances in software the impossible became more possible with each passing year-eventually with each passing month. Those who took advantage of these emerging digital tools discovered they altered the manner in which they worked. Ultimately, reflection upon one's own process of design and the execution designs led to the conclusion that the terminology, understandings, and processes we grew up with are inadequate. For 44 W I N T E R 2 0 0 5 TD & T The Guide Costume, as designed and rendered by S. Q. Campbell using traditional sketching and painting techniques.