Two-year Long Academic Research Project with the University of Leeds
Projecting Performance was an Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded collaboration between KMA and performance academics Sita Popat and Scott Palmer from the University of Leeds’ School of Performance & Cultural Industries. The two-year research project focussed on the choreographic and scenographic exchange between dancers and projected digital images within a theatrical context. It questioned processes of performance and perceived boundaries between performers and technologists, and it promoted dialogues via an iterative cycle of creative development. The research addressed these issues at different levels through its key research questions:
- What defines the relationships between the performer-dancer, the projected image and the performer-operator?
- What are the methodologies for the engagement of performance academics and digital technologists in effective collaborative research?
Projected digital images are widely employed in theatrical productions today, but their use is frequently governed either by pre-recorded footage with the performer as strictly-timed soloist, or through computer-controlled interactions where the performer needs to trigger the technology.
This project investigated a new set of interrelationships between performer, projection and technical operator, where the operator also becomes a ‘performer’ both controlling and being spontaneously present in the digital image on stage. The stage-performer interacts with the off-stage operator, who simultaneously sees, controls and ‘performs’ the projected image in the stage ‘picture’. The expressive nature of the digital image concentrates the quality of the operator’s movement through abstract forms that are choreographed in partnership with the stage performer.
Work that directly integrates performance and technologist in both process and performance is still rare. Collaborative methods that facilitate such integration deserve further exploration for the combined benefit of both academic and professional communities. Through this research we were seeking to identify the underlying processes of our work as collaborators from the fields of performance and new technologies, within the context of a performance research laboratory. How do our working practices complement each other, and where do we need to find alternative approaches?
This research project has critical implications for relationships between humans and technology in 21st century choreography and scenography. The developing dialogue between performance and technology has further exposed methodologies for collaborative research.
Information about the project can be found on the University’s Projecting Performance pages