This project explores the ways that creative practices—improvised movement, choreographed dance, and digital video—produce new knowledge about the sociability of public space. In other words, it uses various theoretical concepts and practical strategies to document and analyse the ways people inhabit and sometimes subvert public spaces — such as plazas, malls and piazzas — as part of their everyday experience. Drawing on concepts developed within the fields of performance theory, spatial history, cultural geography and social theory, the project will build a methodological toolbox for understanding the relationships between the diverse groups that use public spaces in Melbourne, Australia. This ‘toolbox’ will subsequently be used to understand analogous public spaces in other parts of the world to generate comparative data about spatial sociability. The research will enable an innovative way of mapping social, civic and political relations in space through a series of creative interventions, and will reveal the politics of everyday movement while exposing tensions between the spaces of public culture — those framed and legitimated by state institutions — and what Michael Warner calls ‘Counter-Publics.’ That is, those oppositional groups who actively seek to use public space in subversive or unauthorised ways.
This project documents a series of performative interventions designed to harness the untapped potential of various forms of street performance genres to function as tools that can produce new ways of understanding the politics of movement in public space. These ‘interventions’ will be generated through a series of practical performance and movement workshops that will draw on street theatre techniques, contact improvisation, Laban movement analysis and contemporary dance choreography. The project will focus on a series of dyadic relationships: self and other, inside and outside, centre and periphery that are relevant to human interaction in public space. Street performers — musicians, acrobats, jugglers, magicians, mimes and so on — seek public spaces with high volumes of pedestrian traffic in order to maximise their ability to draw an audience and make a living. These performers who create temporary performance zones alter the flow and intensity of movement around them, thereby transforming the plazas, piazzas, town squares and subways favoured by buskers. Some of these performers interact with their audience more than others, and are potentially capable of telling us something about the politics of space. The practice of ‘shadowing’ the movements of passers-by is an increasingly popular form of public entertainment around the world.
The Big Screen, Federation Square
Field of Research
190203 Electronic Media Art 200104 Media Studies 190504 Performance and Installation Art
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