The so-called “documentary turn” at the beginning of the 1990s led to the development of innumerable documentary practices across the disciplines. This chapter focuses on a very specific practice that combines elements of documentary cinema with live audiovisual performance: Audiovisual documentary performances. With sound and images performed live and in real time, these performances create a new sensory approach to documentary and challenge the viewing and listening habits shaped by traditional, more linear or narrative documentary structures.

The chapter starts by situating audiovisual documentary performances within the theoretical discourses of the involved fields, mainly documentary practices, a newly developed focus on the senses in cinema studies in general, and live audiovisual performance. On the basis of this theoretical discussion, prominent examples of audiovisual documentary performances such as SuperEverything* (Light Surgeons 2011), Are We Doing Right? (Embolex 2013) 1Hz (Daniel von Rüdiger/0101 2015), and Intruders (A-li-ce and Swub 2014) are analyzed. The examples are then discussed in the larger context of cinematic and performative approaches sharing similar aesthetic concerns, such as The Gamblers by Rosalind Morris (2019), works by the Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL), founded at Harvard University in 2006, or from the field of live documentary.