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Becoming Nomad:

Hybrid Spaces, Liquid Architectures1 and Online Domains

TaPRA Performance and New Technologies Inter-conference Event 2013

was held on 10 April 2013* at York St John University, York, UK


Full programme and Abstracts are available.


A research event organised by TaPRA Performance and New Technologies Working Group in cooperation with York St John University

Their Performance Anatomical Theatres of Mixed Reality was presented on 10 April.

Keynote Speaker: Professor Maaike Bleeker

Invited Practitioners: Mark Jeffery and Judd Morrissey

Speakers: Aristita Albacan, Angela Bartram, Camille Baker, Lynn Book, James Burrows, Phil Christopher, Daniela De Paulis, Steve Fossey, Kerry Francksen, Douglas Gittens, Edina Husanovic, Hannah Lammin, Elena Marchevska, Julian Maynard-Smith, Vida Midgelow, Kira O’ Reilly, Annalisa Piccirillo, Sita Popat, Patricia Prieto Blanco, Bill Psarras, Jo Scott, Erica Scourti, Helen Thornham, Craig Vear, Nathan Walker

Conceptions of space and time are necessary coordinates of a re-interrogation of the limits of corporeality […] because any understanding of bodies requires a spatial […] framework. (Elizabeth Grosz 2001:32)

Rosi Braidotti has established the concept of ‘nomadism’ as an analytical tool. Increasingly, in theatre and performance as in other areas of life, we embody those nomadic, ‘post-identitarian’ subjects (Braidotti 2010) in order to address the complexities of our times. This interim symposium explored the ‘becoming-nomad’ (Braidotti 2011: 66) of subjects, bodies, and ideas that occurs within contemporary globalised, mediatised, augmented and distributed environments. A further aim of this symposium was to map out the multiple transformations that result from those phenomena in theatre and performance practice and identify fruitful elements of ‘surprise’ (Grosz 2001: 11) stemming from the intersections between the virtual and the actual in potentially different spatial contexts. Putting emphasis on instances of wandering in, encountering the ‘other’ within and encountering something other than the actual, we aimed to re-negotiate the concept of becoming, belonging and being-in-mixed-media worlds.

By setting up dialogues between bodies and spaces, this interim event sought to explore the new practices, philosophies and intensities evoked by the continuously shifting coordinates of contemporary corporealities, and to renegotiate notions and experiences of spatial embodiment in contemporary theatre and performance contexts. Those practices, we argued, raise questions about issues of responsibility, ethical considerations, and new approaches to the aesthetic and neuroaesthetic, political and phenomenological aspects of such spatial transfigurations.

Contributions were invited, in the form of a paper, short performance, practical presentation, or provocation that reflected on the pivotal role of digital media in the reconfigurations of creative interactions and addressed some of the issues identified below:

  • Nomadic Subjects
  • Spaces of movement
  • Fluid/‘liquid’ architecture(s)
  • New coordinates of time and space
  • Spaced-out performers/audiences
  • Mapping bodied-spaces
  • Gaps and trajectories between the ‘here’ and ‘there’ of digital intimacies
  • Wearable Spaces
  • Telematic/Displaced/Territorial narratives
  • Performance/Theatre and Cultural Cartographies
  • Political space of shifting coordinates/Shifting coordinates of political space
  • Responsibility in becoming other/being elsewhere

Anatomical Theatres of Mixed Reality

Anatomical Theatres of Mixed Reality is a durational live performance and installation that engages histories of forensics and anatomical science, placing the crudeness of early surgery in relation to the prevailing 21st century vision of a body enhanced by data and augmented by computation. The core of the installation is an interactive operating table that generates screen-based content, transmits real-time data to performers, and distributes virtual overlays that can be viewed through mobile devices. The spatial choreography of tables enacts anatomy as both intact whole and distributed data-consuming system, as the elevated surface of the work shifts underfoot, fluctuating between references to surgery and banquet.

Inhabiting Systems: Operations in Mixed Reality

Contemporary technologies are blurring the boundaries between human bodies and computational tools, which are increasingly seen as integral extensions of our biological forms. Relatedly, our orientation within geo-physical space is being complicated by mobile computing, ubiquitous data, and technologies that merge elements of physical and virtual worlds. Workshop participants will reconsider anatomy and site within the context of extended bodies and mixed realities, experimenting with the juxtaposition of live and virtual imagery as well as the internalisation of real-time data and computational processes. Conceptualised as an operating theatre, the workshop will examine depictions of early anatomical theatre (in which surgical procedures were performed publicly in specially built amphitheatrical spaces) in conjunction with 21st century visions of the body.

The workshop could accommodate up to 24 participants, who were invited to become part of the live installation/performance on the following day.

1 Novak (1991)

*A pre-conference workshop run by Mark Jeffery and Judd Morrissey took place on 9 April 2013.