• The predictive scenographer: Performance design as predictive affordance-o-graphy

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (27/11/2018)
      We are finding parts of ourselves, playing, playing with the light, unexpected events […] wood, fabric, cameras, sound equipment, and a bit of alcohol. Shades of red, grey, it is pretty dark, you cannot see much. It provokes you in terms of fiction. (Participant S3, practice-research project Work Space III, October 2015). In hybrid and participatory performance environments, the audience’s position constantly shifts and is not contained within a viewing area, like in traditional forms of theatre, raising questions for the performance maker such as: How do I design the distribution of the experience of the audience? How do I contextualise this distribution? How do I frame this experience; and the feelings generated by a distributed design? In this paper, I will reflect through specific performance practice on how the free-energy principle (Friston 2011) and PP (Clark 2013) can be useful for a performance designer (scenographer) as a method for performance making but also as a way of contextualising what participatory performances do and how they do it. The audience–participants’ predictive brains are understood to get a grip on multiple fields of affordances (both material, cultural, etc.) simultaneously, and these become interweaved in the circular causal weave between embodied brain and world. The plurality of possible fields of interrelations the audience–participants make in relation to the design stretch across interoceptive, proprioceptive, and exteroceptive information, providing “a rich new entry point for accounts of experience, emotion, and affect: accounts that do not compartmentalize cognition and emotion, but reveal them as (at most) distinctive threads in a single inferential weave” (Clark 2015: 296). WS III’s scenography could be described as an embodied, and ecological playful. prediction algorithm that had the audience–participants as anticipating errors predicating the next moves in order to maintain the organisation of the performance system..
    • To you, to me: Generation non-eocentric habits of embodied, embedded, enactive and extended spectating.

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (19/06/2019)
      Practice-led presentation involving the participation of the delegates.
    • Work space II: attempts on Margarita

      Penna, Xristina; Eyes, Ben; Graham, Katherine; Carlsberg, Jennifer; Steggals, Lucy; Bradbury, Olivia; Kapsali, Maria; Turner, Alaena; Collins, Esther; University of Leeds (Stage@Leeds, 26/02/2015)
      Margarita is a pile of constantly changing drafts ready to be revised, retold, forgotten, erased… Can we keep Margarita going? This performance installation asks for the audiences’ participation in constructing a collective consciousness: Margarita. It is created as part of Xristina’s Practice Research on performance design, and cognition at PCI using recordings, live performance and ‘scenographic contraptions’. The project contributed to the collection of qualitative data (images, post-show interviews, and participant questionnaires) for the analysis of the interaction between audience-participants, and the scenographic environment. Xristina is testing here a methodological tool brought into her research from her performance design and practice background: the contraption. She situates the metaphorical notion of consciousness as ‘multiple drafts’ following Dennett, who, when trying to explain how consciousness works ‘avoids supposing that there must be a single narrative (the “final” or “published” draft, you might say)’ (Dennett 1991: 113), but rather that there are multiple drafts or ‘narrative fragments’ at various stages of editing in various places in the brain (Dennett 1991: 113). This metaphor is used as a critical design-practice tool (contraption) for generating dynamic and reflective exchange between the audience-participants, the artists-collaborators, the environment and the practitioner-researcher. The audiences’ engagement and experience with this environment is further analysed using embodiment, the socially collaborative and ecological nature of human cognition.The composition of the work consists of pre-recorded voices of friends/colleagues/acquaintances of the practitioner-researcher and of live-streamed voices of random passers-by, answering the same set of questions regarding themselves or a female person they know well. The show is divided in 11 chapters, which correspond to the above questions and form a sonic collage, heard through a surround sound system controlled live by the sound designer, and the lighting designer. Container-structures invite the audience to literally immerse in them and listen to the more intimate audio recordings (i.e. the secret pleasures of Margarita). A folk English song talking about an apple and a head is performed live every 15 minutes, while multiple transcripts of the recordings are printed out ad hoc and placed on the floor for the audience to read; a button box waits to be explored and the lighting designer intervenes live corresponding with different lighting atmospheres. The audience-participants visiting the installation are invited to freely explore this sonic, performed and material environment and piece together the experience of Margarita.
    • Attempts on Margarita (multiple drafts): A cognitive dramaturgy generated by voice and space

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (AISB, 21/04/2015)
      In the dynamic contemporary theatre and performance landscape of ‘immersive’, hybrid and interactive production where the boundaries between public and private, performance space and audience space intertwine, alternate or even disappear, scenography is referred to as a process. The above observation poses a series of questions regarding the critical frameworks that could be used in order to analyse scenography as process and the methods that might be employed to contribute to the creation of dynamic scenographic landscapes where the audience becomes an active co-author of the work. Through my practice-led research at the University of Leeds I am suggesting a method of staging dynamic scenographic systems using current cognitive theories of consciousness (Baars, Dennett, Edelman and Tononi). These performancesystems engage with the concepts of process, integration of information and complexity inviting the participants to interact in a dynamic bottom-up way with the work. In the piece ‘Work Space I- a scenographic workshop on consciousness’ I appropriated Baars’ diagram of consciousness known as the Global Workspace [3] to create a workshopinstallation in which the participants are invited to share the experience of a performance-game and contribute to the handson creation of a multi-authorial artwork. By reflecting on the above work, which draws and explores the notion of embodiment and the ‘socially collaborative, culturally and materially grounded nature of the human mind’ I focused on the ‘dialogue through making’ that occurred during the time of the workshop. In another practice-led investigation ‘ Work Space II - Attempts on Margarita (multiple drafts)’ I am drawing from Martin Crimps' postdramatic work 'Attempts on her Life' and the cognitive theories of consciousness by Dennett, delman and Tononi in order to create a multi-layered cognitive dramaturgy in the form of an installation space. A current view on the hard problem of consciousness, largely initiated by neuroscientist/psychiatrist Giulio Tononi, is that ‘wherever there's information processing, there's consciousness’ In the piece ‘Attempts on Margarita (multiple drafts)’ aim is to generate a collective consciousness in the form of a durational, sound installation by mixing information such as pre-recorded and live - stream voices generated by three types of participants: P1: a) Friends/colleagues/acquaintances of mine and b) random passers-by in the university campus who answer the same set of questions regarding ‘Margarita’. P2: Participants-audience who attended the installation.
    • Uncovered – performing everyday clothes

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (Intellect, 01/10/2014)
      Uncovered is an interactive installation based on a simple yet complex performance system that uses the participants’ clothes as a springboard for devising material for the show ad hoc. Everyday clothes are performing in Uncovered and consist the material for the show. They are the objects that tranverse from a ‘silent existence’ to an ‘oral state’ open to appropriation (Barthes [1957] 2009: 131). Gaston Bachelard would argue that ‘immensity is an intimate dimension’ (Bachelard [1958] 1994: 194) and also that ‘immensity is a philosophical category of a daydream’ ([1958] 1994: 183). During an interview session the audience/participant encounters the projected image of one of his or her clothes and re-thinks, rejects, remembers, reflects, resists with this image. The artist makes a rough copy of the garment using white fabric while the sound designer picks up sound from the clothes and composes a short sound piece. The team of three (performer, sound designer and the artist) with the use of projection, live camera feed, sound, the body of the performer and the piece of clothing itself, present a two-minute improvisation to each one of the audience/participants. The audience are invited in an intimate space to daydream and reflect by looking at the image of one of their clothes. In this visual essay I will use the metaphor of zooming in the network-like-texture of a fabric in an attempt to communicate the experience of Uncovered: the layers and immense weaving of thoughts, emotions, memories that was triggered by the delimiting image of the participants’ clothes.
    • Work space I- a scenographic workshop on consciousness: Scenographic artefact

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (International Federation for Theatre Research, 2015)
    • Attempts on staging consciousness: Towards a cognitive scenography

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (International Federation for Theatre Research, 2015)
    • Costume project(ion)-the costume rehearses

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (Critical Costume, 25/03/2015)
    • I want you to participate: Pause for thought

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (University of Leeds, 31/05/2017)
      This colloquium took place at Stage@leeds, School of Performance and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds on May 31st 2017. It aimed to contribute to Harpin and Nicholson’s ‘reflective response to why the contemporary moment appears somehow to need participation’ (2017: 15). It focused on questions regarding the resistances, crises, or ethical dilemmas encountered by the invited artists, and creative researchers when using participatory formats. Aim was to collect direct insights from an eclectic group of artists, and creative researchers who work across installation, intermedia, immersive, applied art, and performance, and who utilise these formats.
    • Attempts on post-representation

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (01/07/2018)
      Practice-led presentation involving the participation of the delegates and a piñata in composing a collective definition of what could be a ‘post-representational’ performance.
    • Applications of cognitive science in scenographic reception and processes: Scenographic contraptions

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (University of Helsinki, 13/06/2016)
    • Designing uncertainty for generating audiences’ participation

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (02/11/2017)
    • Work space III: Phishing things together (the predictive brain)

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (Live Art Bistro, 2015)
    • Scenographic contraptions: An embodied conversation, embodied mind, embodied design

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (University of Edinburgh, 2015)
    • Scenographic contraptions: A manifestation for a post-representational performance design method

      Penna, Xristina; University of Leeds (Performance Studies International, 08/06/2017)
      Design is too often considered superfluous to performances – aesthetic, technological and everyday – and yet, as a sensorially orchestrated phenomena, such invention can make discursively manifest the varying excesses of our time. As cups’ excess runneth over, the superfluous-as-design performs its superfluidity; overflowing the edges and slipping between the cracks to expose fissures and faults as possibilities; forcing open new spaces. In greeting this abundance with high-water boots, we asked how conditions of super-flu(id)ity in the social, political, environmental and/or other realms permeate our theorizing and practicing of performance design. A dozen responses to the performance+design working group’s call were selected, and these designers, theorists, pedagogues and provocateurs will share manifestos + manifestations of their research and projects in the curated Superflu(id)ity session the first day of the PSI#23 conference in Hamburg.
    • Kelly + Jones

      Jones, Rhiannon; Kelly, Traci; University of Derby; Oxford Brookes University (Oxford Brookes University, 2020-01-15)
      Dr Traci Kelly and Dr Rhiannon Jones’ exhibition presents writing as dynamic visual and lived encounter grounded in phenomenological, feminist and post-feminist perspectives. It subverts and ruins the representation of writing in order to privilege the visceral and subjective production of the writerly and resist the hierarchy of decipherable text. The artists predominantly employ performance and performativity as a temporal mode of making works, which span video, installation, photography, sculpture and artefacts and explore writing as object, writing as materiality, the process of writing through the body and the subject invention inherent in writing a subject into being. Works offer partial glimpses into the material world of the human and non-human body (chalk deposits from past marine life), and their relationship to writing/language. The works exist in the interstice of documentation, artwork and survey with their unsettled status placing value on the unknowing within visual culture and research-creation. This exhibition responds to the Glass Tank as a metaphorical aquarium, holding the remnants of past marine life in the materiality of chalk whilst creating a living ecology of research. Each Wednesday afternoon during the exhibition a selected practitioner from the Oxford Brookes community will spend a continuous three hours engaging with the exhibition through the prism of their own discipline and research interests. Contingent research-in-action will expand, renew and shift the territory of artworks and practices, providing a ground for each Seer-in-Residence to further raise and mobilise their investigations through the process.
    • Afterword: Reading mad men in the era of Trump

      Forde, Teresa; McNally, Karen; University of Derby; London Metropolitan University (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019-12-12)
      This edited collection examines the enduringly popular television series as Mad Men still captivates audiences and scholars in its nuanced depiction of a complex decade. This is the first book to offer an analysis of Mad Men in its entirety, exploring the cyclical and episodic structure of the long form series and investigating issues of representation, power and social change. The collection establishes the show’s legacy in televisual terms, and brings it up to date through an examination of its cultural importance in the Trump era. Aimed at scholars and interested general readers, the book illustrates the ways in which Mad Men has become a cultural marker for reflecting upon contemporary television and politics.
    • Olivia Dunham and the new frontier in fringe

      Forde, Teresa; University of Derby (McFarland, 2019-07-12)
      From the Star Wars expanded universe to Westworld, the science fiction western has captivated audiences for more than fifty years. These twelve new essays concentrate on the female characters in the contemporary science fiction western, addressing themes of power, agency, intersectionality and the body. Discussing popular works such as Fringe, Guardians of the Galaxy and Mass Effect, the essayists shed new light on the gender dynamics of these beloved franchises, emphasizing inclusion and diversity with their critical perspectives.
    • The disorderly animal in contemporary art

      Baker, Steve; University of Derby (2017)