Last year I was lucky enough to be awarded an Industry Fellowship on the Bristol & Bath Creative Cluster Expanded Performance programme. Yeah, it’s a mouthful… Basically it meant I was part of a group of people researching the potential of live performance in conjunction with creative technologies. I’ve been pushing at the door of that arena for many years, so I was completely made up to get funding to invest time and headspace in those possibilities.
It was weird, but interesting to do this research whilst the live performance industries were in freefall due to pandemic restrictions. It definitely led me into less obvious territory – virtual reality – than I’d have played with if I could leave the house. I couldn’t do as much of the practical experimentation that I’d hoped to do (‘cos lockdown) so I found myself writing as a way to work out my thinking. The articles have all been published on the B&B Creative R&D website, but I wanted to link to them from here too, because it’s all comes from my artistic curiosity.
The essays are mostly about feeling stuff and being present, so I called the series Feeling Being. Here’s a little intro and links to the articles in the series:
At heart, my aim as an artist is to make work that connects with people – by which I mean, work that invites people – audiences, if you like – to think things and feel stuff. So I’m interested in digital technologies as aesthetic and emotional textures.
My research through this Expanded Performance Fellowship has kept returning to a focus on ’emotional immersion’ – the private, personal, hard to measure, but deeply impactful sense of involvement that keeps us watching, listening, playing, searching, questioning, caring. It’s what moves us. It’s what gets under our skin.
These essays and provocations weren’t planned as a series. They’re all dives into what felt most insistent at the time. The influence of Covid-19 lockdown is in there for sure. And the occasional punch line (cos art is also fun, for real). There’s also a recurring resistance to the idea that technologised art can “promise” something, in terms of the felt experience. But perhaps what I see connecting them the most, is a focus on creating space for the audience to be, rather than requiring them to do. To be part of something, rather than to do to something. To feel connected, rather than having to perform connection.
> Live(ness) thinking
> The vibe, the grain, and further adventures in VR
> Some thoughts on fiction, money, politics and power
> Being here not there: presence and agency
> Don’t expand, make better