Being Here Now: Performance, Presentness and the Opening to Wonder
This thesis focuses on the experience of ‘presentness’ in the performance context, drawing on theoretical investigation, case studies and research through practice to consider how performance can invite the spectator into awareness of bodied co-presence in a shared space of being. Following Serres and Sheets-Johnstone, it argues that sensing and animation are primary in the subject’s awareness of her own being, and key to a sense of presence-in-the-world. Performance, encouraging attention to its own present moment, can offer a privileged context for this bodily awareness of being. Phenomenology is proposed as a key mode of analysis of the performance experience of both performer and spectator, as well as central to my concern in practice with bringing awareness to a shared present moment. Case studies from my own and other artists’ practice are informed by engagement with philosophical analyses of co-presence (Lévinas, Irigaray), considering how particular forms may invite sensory attention to the spectator’s own being as well as to the performance. Analysis of one-to-one performances, and durational performances involving materials, investigates whether and how these modes can invite spectators into a sense of being-present-with, and/or self-presence. The central performance element in the submission raises the question of how mind and materials ‘think’ together, and how conceptual ideas may be advanced through practical thinking, as well as vice versa. This reflection is taken up in a consideration (following Sheets-Johnstone and Ingold) of how moving allows us a sense of being in the world, how thinking operates on multiple levels, in body as well as intellect, and how ‘thinking’ may be apparent in the movement of working with materials, and in the moving body itself. Finally, it is argued that by inviting the spectator into this sensory, bodily enmeshed apprehension of being-in-the-world, performance can return us to the space of everyday wonder.
- Theses