Making a Laboratory: Embodied Research and the Audiovisual Body
10 April 2019
18: 00 – 18:45
ADU, Trg Republike Hrvatske 5, 10000 Zagreb
Ben Spatz is a nonbinary researcher and theorist of embodied practice: a Senior Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Huddersfield, UK; author ofWhat a Body Can Do: Technique as Knowledge, Practice as Research(Routledge 2015); and AHRC Leadership Fellow with the project “Judaica: An Embodied Laboratory for Songwork” (2016-2018).
Ben is also the editor of the videographic Journal of Embodied Researchfrom Open Library of Humanities and the Advanced Methods imprint from Punctum Books; co-convener of the Embodied Research Working Group within the International Federation for Theatre Research; and co-investigator on the ESRC project “Research with a Twist: A Somatics Toolkit for Ethnographers” (2018-2019).
Ben has recently been invited to speak at conferences on theatre, dance, music, martial arts, and intangible cultural heritage at the Universities of Manchester, Leeds, Kent, Middlesex, Bedfordshire, Aberdeen, Cardiff, Maynooth, Ghent, and Zagreb, as well as at New York University, City University of New York, Northwestern University, and University of the Arts Helsinki. Ben has more than two decades of experience as a performer and director of contemporary performance, working mainly in New York City from 2001 to 2013. <www.urbanresearchtheater.com>.
A long line of theatrical practice in Europe proposes to approach theatre as a kind of laboratory. Can this be more than a metaphor? In this presentation, I reconsider the concept of the laboratory in light of current developments in social epistemology and speculative ontology, synthesizing ideas from Hans-Jörg Rheinberger and Karen Barad among others to offer the first rigorous definition of laboratoriality outside a technoscientific paradigm. With this definition we can more precisely locate embodied research alongside more established academic research paradigms.
The presentation will be illustrated by audiovisual examples from the videographic Journal of Embodied Research,published by Open Library of Humanities; and from the UK-funded project “Judaica: An Embodied Laboratory for Songwork” (2016-2018), which implemented a powerful new embodied audiovisual research method at the intersection of experimental performance, critical identity studies, and visual anthropology. In addition to considering the onto-epistemological of these audiovisual works, I will share details of the project’s underlying method and explain how it can be used to structure a “queer laboratory” that generates a new kind of audiovisual material and raises provocative questions about power, authorship, and identity.