Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Conference Papers

Almost all of these papers can be downloaded from my page

(2007). Disturb: Sleep and Performance. International Federation for Theatre Research. Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Taking as its point of departure Chris Burden's 1972 work Bed Piece, in which the artist spent three weeks confined to a bed in a gallery, the paper considers the ways in which performance invites a reconsideration of the nature of sleep. Drama has long employed sleep as a functional device to permit slaughter, seduction and sedition, invariably occurring off-stage, though its appearance as a central element of performance prompts a reappraisal of its qualities, while the act of viewing the recumbent performer balances on a precipice between intimacy and invasiveness.

Preliminary works to be considered include Cornelia Parker's The Maybe (1995), Bill Viola's Nantes Triptych (1992), Stephan Reusse's thermographic studies and Janine Antoni's Slumber (1993). The work will be considered in relation to historical depictions of sleep in the visual arts, contemporary allusions such as Tracey Emin's My Bed (1998) and contrasted with other modes of performance in which the performer's conscious ability to present themselves is compromised.


(2008). Sweatshops, stages and bangs – offline in Asia. International Federation for Theatre Research. Seoul, Korea.

The impact of online gaming on Asian, and particularly Korean, society is as much tangible as virtual, whether it be the tens of thousands of gaming cafes ('PC baangs') or the cable channels and newspapers dedicated to gaming that attract millions. Where the UK gamer is typically male and pursues his interest in isolation, the Korean equivalent might equally be female. The widespread practice of watching as well as participating in games results in it being an activity as likely to be pursued as part of a group rather than on one's own. In using online gaming as a means to delineate Asian-ness the paper will also consider the differing characteristics of the games that dominate the Korean market as opposed to those that are most popular in the UK. If Korea's gaming culture finds its origins in the pervasiveness of broadband provision, other Asian countries, notably China, open up a low-cost online labour market to the ‘cash-rich, time-poor’ players who engage the services of 'power-levellers' and ‘gold farmers’ to undertake repetitive in-game tasks on their behalf, a less agreeable manifestation of offline Asia demonstrating that exploitation too is capable of making the transition from atoms to bits. Finally, having addressed both positive and negative aspects of ‘offline Asia’ I will consider the extent to which the term might be used to imply that the relationship between the real and the virtual is binary or whether the interdependencies identified here invite consideration of a more fluid state of existence.

(2009) Show the (w)hole - experience and evidence JNU Symposium. Delhi, India
Chris Burden's 1980 display of the wound he incurred in his notorious Shoot, nine years earlier, renders documentation and performance coterminous. As that much-lauded tree falls once more to the forest floor, is it enough to have heard it or do we acually require that the splintering thud be recorded, indisputable evidence trumping individual experience? Mark C. Taylor, in his essay Back to the Future evokes Derrida’s notion of “the becoming-time of space and the becoming-space of time” as the space of postmodernism and Lyotard contributes the idea that the postmodern artist is "working without rules in order to formulate the rules of what will have been done”. This paper will consider the role of documentation in relation to these remarks, questioning its status as posterior to the event and suggesting that it might be regarded as the fixing bath of performance, enabling it to be brought to light.

This theoretical debate shows up in very concrete form as part of our student assessment at Warwick where students are now being asked to produce video documentation of their performance for purposes of review by external examiners as part of their assessment. While this requirement can be acknowledged as a pragmatic response to the busy lives of external examiners, it may also be regarded as symptomatic of an increasing blurring of the status of both the specific time and space of performance, as discussed in this presentation.

(2009) - Between platform and pit – the noise of Partch. Theatre Noise. London, UK
Harry Partch might equally be termed a constructor as a composer; when instruments failed to create the sounds he desired, he built his own; dissatisfied with the rigidity of the twelve-note scale he devised a 43 tone alternative; and, considering the appearance of the performance to be at least as important as the sound, produced the Manual on the maintenance and repair of – the musical and attitudinal techniques for – some putative musical instrument which set out performance conventions. From ostensibly musical works to those scored for dancers, mime actors and speakers alongside instrumentalists, Partch required his performers to be adept at the diverse tasks he presented to them rather than specialising in one instrument or discipline. Consequently, his works generate too much visual disturbance to sit discretely with “tight coats and tight shoes” on the Western concert platform yet frequently evince a ritual formality that renders them equally ill-suited to being heard and not seen in the pit of the theatre.

Partch's Delusion of the Fury – A Ritual of Dream and Delusion (1965-6) challenges the expectations of music theatre by dispensing with a libretto and instead employing dancers and mimes. It is an expression of what Partch termed 'corporeal music', involving the whole body, howsoever deployed. This paper considers Harry Partch's 'theatre noise' as it challenges both the eye and the ear.

(2009). Acknowledging futility (at thirty two feet per second per second). Performance Studies International. Zagreb, Croatia.

Impossibly, beautifully, Yves Klein hangs in mid air, willing us to believe that performance might defy gravity. Preceding his Leap into the Void the devout find only death and disability as a reward for their rapid encounter with the ground, ahead, the enthusiasts make soft landings in water to the delight of their audiences. Taking the challenge of human-powered flight as a progression from endeavour to entertainment this paper considers how solo attempts from Abbas Ibn Firnas and Eilmer of Malmesbury through to efforts at Bognor Birdman and Red Bull Flugtag events chronicle an accommodation with the limits of the human. Pride precedes the fall of Icarus in mythology (too hot) and Iron Man in the multiplex (too cold) as both seek to soar upward; with fossil-fuelled flight a pervasive reality is there any alternative other than to turn to the comic to assuage our failings?

(2010) Traversing the Alimentary Canal Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. The Hunger Artist: Food and the Arts. Toronto, Canada
The moving image provides many memorable instances of the allure of food, often reminding us of the proximity of carne and carnality, as in Itami's Tampopo, or the pivotal social function of eating that pervades every episode of The Sopranas. Peter Greenaway's The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover engages with both these aspects of food but, though the site of consumption is a visual feast, a dining hall of deep red, the eye tracks back and forth from the place of production,a green kitchen, and that of excretion, the blindingly white restrooms.

Regarded by many as an allegory of Thatcher's Britain, Greenaway's film can also be considered as a sustained exploration of the ways in which the totality of the process of food consumption has been harvested selectively to produce aesthetic objects and experiences. Greenaway does not allow the physical and ethical dregs of gastronomy to slip from view but instead serves them up as palate cleansers, resulting in a gustation that at times threatens to provoke regurgitation.
This paper considers Greenaway's juxtaposition of the refined and the abject as a commentary on the way in which a vital biological function has been refined, and the residue discarded.

(2011). Japan a la carte: Culture performed, transformed and consumed. International Federation for Theatre Research. Osaka, Japan.

Minimising the linguistic challenge and the demands of international travel, Japanese restaurants in the UK perform culture in bite-sized chunks, drawing on readings not only of food and its preparation and presentation, but decor, deportment and ritual. Presenting models that seemingly adhere to tradition, others that subordinate the experience to the expectations of the UK diner and yet more that demonstrate a complex interplay between the two, this paper will consider the theatrical space of the restaurant as a fertile site for the performance of culture.

Writing on sushi as an exemplar of globalization, Sasha Issenberg notes that the mantle of lone, knife-wielding guardian of honour and order passes from samurai to sushi chef and, elsewhere, other tropes can be seen to have taken their place at the dining table. As one Birmingham restaurant announces, “eating Japanese is not only a gastronomic experience, it is pure theatre”, a claim that invites consideration of how theatre in this sense might be understood and the extent to which the adoption/adaptation of Japanese culinary traditions warrant such a reading rather than those from other cultures.


(2011). Padded Playroom Party Pitstops. Oxford Symposium of Food and Cookery. Oxford, UK.

Drawing on previous work in the area and the interim results of a survey into parents’ experiences of soft play centres, the paper identifies the attraction of hosting birthday parties at such venues, namely cost, convenience and conformity. The homogeneity of the food offering across venues and the priority given to food for adults rather than children is noted as well as the scant recognition of alternative diets. The welfare of the child in regard to the play environment is contrasted with the disinclination to champion food on the basis of its nutritional value. The provision of food that is acknowledged by parents to be not what they would serve at home is put in the context of parties being occasions where rules are relaxed or broken though it is questioned whether the parent licenses this relaxation or accedes to it. The contrast between the period of play and the birthday meal, culminating in the cake ritual is noted prior to a conclusion that expresses the view that the birthday party at such venues divides into two distinct experiences that cannot cohere into a memorable experience, a view that will be tested in the light of responses from children.


(2011). A (post hu)man's gotta eat. Virtual Futures. Warwick, UK.

Writing on the future of food, Warren Belasco concludes that the free lunch we've dined on has been at the expense of the climate, the soil, oil reserves and the availability of water. He proposes meeting this cost with some combination of technological and anthropological solutions. As Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma recounts, the former is already in full swing as food systems become ever more interwoven, elongated and alien to us, increasing yield to maximise profitability whilst the latter approach, predicated on re-educating the consumer rather than re-engineering their food, shrinks and unravels the food chain (and the vast distances it stretches).

Genetic modification, reverse engineering, bio-refining and nano-technology agglomerate to concoct the technological Cockaigne whereas the proponents of slow food and locavores posit not so much a Medieval land of plenty as one that aspires to the Edenic. As we consider whether we adapt ourselves to the environment or vice-versa we expend fuel - that which sustains our bodies, that which transports and processes food and in hybrid form that, like ethanol which requires us to assess whether the finite arable land available be used to power ourselves or our machines. As proponents of extropianism speculate on indefinite life they can sustain themselves on a meat-rich diet made possible by shortening that of livestock, taking a cow from 80lb birth weight to 1100lbs of prime beef in fourteen months where decades previously it would have taken two to three years. This paper cannot hope to accomplish a similar feat of compression upon the burgeoning literature of future sustainability: more modestly it hopes to feed on the themes of the conference, folding in a pinch of Brillat-Savarin to suggest that we will be what we eat.


(2012). Half Speed Ahead – Proposal/ Documentation. International Federation for Theatre Research. Santiago, Chile.

(Performance Intervention in Santiago, Chile for practice-as-research in the Working Group) With the economies of the world slowing, it seems improper for those of us required to support them to continue at such a frenetic pace. Half Speed Ahead is a project that encourages the deceleration of urban life by means of a variety of interventions in a public space in Santiago as part of the IFTR conference in 2012. From slow food to slow perambulations, calming stations, observations of extended phenomena and events that pursue (in unhurried fashion) the leisurely wherever it saunters, heart-beat monitors and movement detectors will perhaps register the successful halving of the activity in the space. Proposals (sent directly to the convenors) are welcomed from those who would like the opportunity to contribute to a slackening of the pace for one day in one space in one city next year.


(2012). Westway to the World. Performing Artist – from an Alternative Rebel to the Role of Celebrity. Belgrade, Serbia.

The title of the paper appropriates that used by Don Letts for his documentary about The Clash. The band not only charted an escape trajectory from the tumult of the late 70s punk scene in the UK but went on to accumulate both critical and commercial success before tensions within the group resulted in a final, desultory hurrah - the album Cut The Crap - prior to dissolution, made absolute by the untimely death of lead singer Joe Strummer in 2002. This consideration of The Clash engages with production and consumption, perspiration and adulation: as the band move from outsiders to acclaimed artists (and back), themselves, their fans (including this one) and the relationship between the two are shown to be in frequent interludes of re-evaluation as a result of the inevitability of ageing, the broadening of a world view initially circumscribed by the congested and constricting arterial routes into London to one encompassing the globe, and the accumulation of capital in its many forms. The only words I exchanged with Strummer were a faint echo of those delivered from the stage almost in the same instant (at a volume I would no longer tolerate) and our trajectories were markedly different but I hope in this paper to engage with the extent to which, in popular music at least, the evolution of artist and audience cannot help but be interdependent.


(2013). The e-phemerality and epidemiology of performances in public spaces. International Federation for Theatre Research. Barcelona, Spain.

This paper will look at a range of performances in public spaces from the perspective of their documentation. Specifically, it asks whether the documentary impulse is by turns antithetical to such works - ‐ an implicit diminution of the value of the public that such work confronts in the moment of its realisation in favour of a public whose proximity and/or interest cannot be assumed by the work itself - ‐ and a conscious turn away from the thoroughfares and gathering places of people inadvertently touched (grazed/affronted/moved) by the work to fora of finite funding bodies and corrals of cloistered colleges.

This is no absolute addendum to Artaud, a 'no more monographs about masterpieces' tirade, nor is the writer wholly unaware that the project is in part doing the very thing it critiques (claiming the Walt Whitman defence) and owes considerable debt to the fact that the works under consideration have been preserved, discussed and valued beyond the moment of their performance. Instead, alongside moves to, potentially, expose the work to the larger public (through Open Access agreements being established), the paper asks whether we can and should seed, nurture, watch over and value dissemination of the work at the site of infection - ‐ that'll be a hangover from the Artaud reference, what I also meant was germination - ‐ from the moment of inception - ‐ tracking the spores of publicity, how and where they catch - ‐ to the friending and trending occasioned by the intervention. Rather than demean the immediacy and e-phemerality of the work spun into social media in favour of the accepted channels we might consider that the after- ‐ life of a performance might not simply ossify but, as productively, oscillate.

(2013) - With Susan Haedicke. Edible Stories: Community Gardens and the Democratic Performance of Everyday Life. American Society for Theatre Research. Dallas, Texas, USA

Universal access to affordable and nutritious food is one of the most urgent societal challenges today. Many factors threaten food security, including environmental change and climate variability, unsustainable agricultural practices, loss of biodiversity, population growth and distribution, and poverty (United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development Report 2009). These factors combined will significantly increase current global food demand. Furthermore, urbanization often divorces people from the land and can lead to ignorance about agriculture, horticulture and other forms of food production. One response by individuals and communities to these serious issues is the surge in local food production evident in the proliferation of allotments, community gardens, CSAs, transition towns and ‘incredible edibles’ as well as the keeping bees and free-range chickens. These activities are rewriting stories about food security and restaging participatory democracy through community collaboration. This jointly-submitted proposal seeks to bring our research on the intersections of local food production and everyday performance to Dallas. Lake Highlands Community Garden ( is less than ten miles from the conference site, and we would like to visit it to discuss the benefits and hurdles faced by community growing projects in Texas. This research would build on our collaborative practice-based research project around WOT2Grow, a community orchard in Warwickshire, UK. Along with WOT2Grow, Lake Highlands Community Garden would represent the first in a series of the linked spaces (communal growing projects around the world that each of us visits as we travel to events and conferences) of a research project that gathers stories and oral histories, not only to preserve and valorise traditional knowledge around local food production, but also to understand current food initiatives and begin to fashion a more sustainable future.

(2014). Fabrication and Figuration. The Street as a Space for Choreography : Receptions, Participations, Changes. Rouen, University of Rouen / Atelier 231.

Wired Aerial's As the World Tipped (2011) is heralded as a work of outdoor art that effects a literal shifting of the ground upon which the climate change debate rests, though it also participates in exposing the transience of the urban environment. The horizontality of the built stage is overlooked by an imposing mobile crane that rises into the night, a familiar, skeletal form that stalks cities across the globe as they transpose aspiration and renewal into architectural certainty. The choreography of such materialisations is writ large in Motionhouse's Traction (2011) in which dancers and construction vehicles meet in prehensile pirouettes that speak to the accommodations between man and machine. Yet, beyond the similarities in gesture, there is the foregrounding of the organic and inorganic alike as agents of labour in service of urban construction. In turn, one recalls the task-led The Bastille Dances (1989) of Station House Opera in which the performers broke down and reassembled 8000 breeze blocks in what they termed “grand scale sculptural theatre”.

These dances play not on but with the fabric of the city, exposing the literal foundations of the urban alongside its reliance on cheap, itinerant, dispensable labour, cocooned in carapaces of protective outerwear, apart and invisible to the citizens, inured to the lure of hi-vis clothing. This paper considers the aforementioned works alongside others in advancing a belief that the making and remaking of the city can be made visible through performance. Just as architect Richard Rogers’ exoskeletal Lloyds Building and Pompidou Centre exposed the workings of the building so too does the making visible of the choreographic impulse of construction reveal the possibilities of understanding, engaging with and contesting the assumptions upon which it rests


(2014). Little Reckonings in Great Rooms. International Federation for Theatre Research. Warwick, UK.

For ninety minutes on 22 September 1900, the burgeoning French Republic celebrated 108 years since its proclamation with a meal that sought to embody the democratic structure of the nation, overlaying the symbolic centre of the city with the actual agents of its enactment across the entire nation. 22,278 guests - the mayors of all of France - were seated in the garden of the Tuilleres, arranged according to a prescribed hierarchy and consumed a menu intended to celebrate the gastronomic abundance of the country. This paper not only indulges in a sense of wonder at the logistics required to mount such an event and its accompanying entertainments but also uses it as the pretext to reflect upon the viability of public gatherings to embrace the democratic structures upon which they are founded.


(2015). How to do things with food. Warwick Research Seminar. Warwick, UK.

This chapter considers three Parisian banquets spanning over a century; the Funeral Supper of Grimod de la Reyniere (1783), the Feast of the Federation (1790) and the Banquet of the Mayors (1900). The changing socio-political realities of the times are apparent in the staging of each meal, with the location and function of the audience for these feasts explored with reference to the writings of Grimod, Rousseau and Rancière. It is argued that, each in their own way, these three culinary events are not simply the accompaniment to, nor distraction from, the tumultuous times in which they are realised but instead have agency in the doing of democracy.


(2015). Sniffin' glue - Food and Social Cohesion. Eating Well. Warwick, UK.

The title is not so much an allusion to a misspent youth but rather cues up the possibility of detecting, in circumstances of extreme proximity, qualities seeping from the experience of consuming food that bind us together. Elongated food chains exorcise undesired taints of provenance, seasonality, perishability and labour as they substitute taste with re-engineered flavour, sustenance with supplication to cravings that ignore the gut and play on insecurities and aspirations that can be fed but never resolved. Bourdieu's Distinction swells with instances of social stratification facilitated by food which in turn become recipes refined and realised in exclusionary food practices evident in high streets, high definition and at high tables. Performance can function as a fallible, fugitive remonstration to these tendencies, loosening the ties to convenience and conformity and generating a mucilage that gathers up relations and responses denied us by the food systems in which we are ensnared.

(2015) Democracy: boundless citizens in bordered spaces International Federation for Theatre Research. Hyderbad, India.

My contribution for Hyderabad 2015 is to acknowledge and then utilise the non-resident status of some members of the group to interrogate the constraints, real and supposed, that govern conduct, suggest some possibilities and inhibit others, in particular public spaces of Hyderabad. This proposal will take the form of a field trip in which group members, lead by myself and residents of Hyderabad, will be encouraged to explore the social, political, economic and architectural presumptions they bring to the space and those that they encounter in the space. Does the designation 'tourist' or 'traveller' circumscribe what can be gained from such a space and does the conscious acquiescence to, or rejection of, this role prevent us from responding to the democratic potential of such public spaces? And, from the perspective of those with the knowledge to guide us through the space, is their curation a vital element in the creation of a public space that can be shared by residents and visitors alike? Do those involved perform a guest/host relationship within the public space and to what extent do public spaces permit, encourage, stifle and particularly set the terms by which such hospitality might be expressed?​

(2016). I have measured out my life with coffee spoons. Autobiography as Performance. Belgrade, Serbia.

Eliot's peremptory judgement on an inconsequential existence, delineated by small acts of consumption, is the perfect foil to the Proustian moment in which a humble madeleine cake unlocks "the vast structure of recollection". Whether regarded as mandatory refuelling that both punctuates and permits more significant activity or as something that distinguishes and differentiates us, the acquisition, consumption and voiding of food, even in an age that valorises convenience, constitutes a discernible proportion of our lives. The extent to which these lives are shaped by food has been posed in philosophical terms by Anthelme Brillat-Savarin ('Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are'), takes on a sociological slant via Bourdieu ('the body is the most indisputable materialisation of class taste') and onwards to embrace the articulation of the political and environmental priorities of the eating subject.

Poised between the succession of one-year performances (from 1978 to 1999) by Taiwanese artist Tehching Hsieh and the profusion of image-led food blogging on social networking sites (notably Tumblr and Instagram), Tucker Shaw's 'Everything I ate: A Year in the life of my mouth' (2005) is a measuring of existence, not in desultory cutlery, but through a succession of regular eating events, occasionally amounting to more than a dozen in a day, dutifully photographed and annotated. This paper takes Shaw's work as the starting point to interrogate the phenomenon of sharing food events online as perhaps oblique, but nevertheless revelatory, autobiographical acts.


(2016). Lest we forget, lest we remember - Tales of Tiananmen. International federation for Theatre Research. Stockholm, Sweden.

Tiananmen. An idea, an event, a place. Over a quarter of a century since that most stark of photograph juxtapositions – massed tanks of unyielding steel facing down a solitary, vulnerable protestor – the square was commandeered for state purposes, namely the parade on September 3rd 2015 marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender to Allied powers and the end of World War II. For many, the seemingly endless procession of military hardware and personnel evinced a projection of power that could in no way be regarded as ‘soft’ and more a celebration of expansionist tendencies rather than a critique. Many commentators were reluctant to look back to the historical circumstance that occasioned the event much less the protests that are indelibly inscribed on the square, instead choosing to see it as a harbinger of China’s political, economic and territorial ambitions. This paper intends to regard the staging of the 2015 parade, attentive to the ghosting both of the event it intends to commemorate and the event which it attempts to occlude. It is both a consideration of the role of the expansive civic space and the claims of those whose formal and informal appropriation of such spaces invite the attention of a public outside of the nation-state.


(2017). Accommodations - negotiating public and private space. International federation for Theatre Research. Sao Paolo, Brazil.

The sepia-tinged backwater of the Malvern History Facebook group was recently brought to a roiling crescendo through mention of the Castlemorton Common Festival (1992), the largest free festival in the UK for over a decade, bringing over 20,000 participants to the semi-rural site and, in its aftermath, bequeathing us the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994). The pitched battle on Facebook, with unrepentant revellers squaring off against indignant residents, was peremptorily curtailed by the page owner, though not before ongoing tensions over control of public space had come to the fore. Accepting that public space has to be demarcated through a process of accommodating the rights of those entities (both private and commercial) that abut the space, leads to an understanding of 'public' that, far from being inclusive, designates those without claim to residence in the space they have populated. In those instances where performances in public space have a durational quality, they first fall foul of ordinances (typically concerning noise levels late at night) and then, running counter to the expectation of gathering and dispersing in accordance with the rhythms of the surrounding environment, accrue labels such as 'protest' and 'occupation'.

This paper will argue that the 'making of the public' occurs not in the open invitation to assemble in a space over which rights of access have been relaxed, but in the inevitable quantification of such relaxation when the (often implicit) understandings upon which such an invitation is made are breeched. It engages with Lyotard’s writings on hospitality and, in linking public to 'non-resident', proposes a body that muddies the distinctions of citizen and migrant that inflame current discourse.


(2017). Entertaining Risk. Warwick Research Seminar. Warwick, UK.

In much the same way that Kant argues for aesthetic judgement necessitating disinterest lest it be corrupted by desire, I suggest that the appreciation of risk requires the subject to be displaced from that which is at risk. In both situations, avoidance of contamination is most easily achieved by requiring distance from the object, thereby privileging sight and sound over those senses that presume proximity. Elizabeth Telfer speculates that regarding the eye and the ear as the more noble of the sense organs "might stem from a sense that the body taints what it is associated with, and that the freer we are of it the better we are" (19). The appreciation of risk, I argue, requires distance, but for exactly the opposite reason; to insulate the body from corruption. To 'get one's fingers burnt', to be 'left with a sour taste in the mouth' or to conclude that 'something smells fishy' are idiomatic expressions that allude to risk understood as the intentional interaction with uncertainty: moreover, each registers a sense of physical discomfort arising from getting too close.

I would pay - have paid - good money to be in the presence of risk - physical, reputational, financial, a veritable storm-battered waterfront of jeopardy - on the understanding that I gamble only with my time and the agreed-upon price of admission. Whether I am complicit or culpable in those instances where the outcome is unfavourable or if, when perceived odds are overcome, I can feel much affinity with the distanced victor are questions for another paper. Here I intend to reflect on the possibility and desirability of risk in performance in circumstances where it is offered to, and accepted by, the spectator.
Works Cited
Telfer, E. "Food as Art." Arguing About Art: Contemporary Philosophical Debate. Eds. Neill, A and A Ridley. New York: Routledge, 2002. 9-27. Print.


(2018) - With Georges Gagneré, Cédric Plessiet and Andy Lavender. The challenges of movement quality using motion capture in theatre. Movement Computing. Genoa, Italy

We describe the modalities of presence in the 3D digital space of avatars controlled in real time by motion-capture-suit-equipped actors and digital assistants. We present two use cases of our AvatarStaging theatrical mixed reality framework in an artistic context with a qualitative approach toward the stage presence conditions for the avatars and a description of the movement control solutions we experimented with from the perspective of building a protocol of avatar direction in a theatrical mixed reality.

(2018). The Argos Catalogue: Motion Capture and Performance. International Federation for Theatre Research. Belgrade, Serbia.

This paper considers the development of a production of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, devised as part of the Mask and Avatar project, realised first in Paris (December 2017) and, in revised form, in Warwick (March 2018). Myself and Andy Lavender (Warwick) along with Georges Gagneré and Cédric Plessiet (both Paris 8) grappled with a number of issues, both artistic and technological, in bringing the work to the stage and the intention here is to reflect on the tools, workflow, and production methods both assumed and adopted. With reference to current exemplars of the integration of live performer and pre-assembled digital assets (such as Ninja Theory's Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice) and the emergence of real-time interaction with film (The Mill's The Human Race), both facilitated by the freely available Unreal Engine 4, the paper will evaluate the competencies and costs required to exploit the game engine on the experimental stage. Alongside this, the status, disposition and persistence of the live performer as a most distinctive controller driving the co-present avatar in the theatre space is considered, in part as a reflection on the ensuing stage picture but also as a prelude to contemplating the performer as means for show control, beyond the one-to-one correspondence of actor/avatar, articulating notions of 'manipulactor' and 'mocaptor' that might differently populate, indeed define, the performance space


(2018). The Degustation of Paris: Grimod’s Almanach des Gourmands. City, Space & Spectacle. Venice, Italy.

Theatre-critic-turned-restaurant-critic Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimod de La Reynière (1758-1837) in his eight volumes of the Almanach des Gourmands (1803-12) assumed the role of cartographer of the comestible, locating and then judging the profusion of food establishments in the Paris of the early nineteenth century. Begetter of the profession of food critic, Grimod’s strategies owe no allegiance to an existing practice and, even over the course of successive volumes it is possible to identify ongoing reappraisal of what the role might entail. The poet, social commentator and proto-flâneur of the early volumes is overtaken by the expectations and demands placed on him as the legitimator of commercial enterprises, sensations commodified into brands. This paper considers the role of the critic in his first forays beyond the auditorium into the sensorium of the surrounding city and the means by which he responded to its organoleptic provocations.