Examining Body-Based Performance Magic as a Live Art Practice

  • Tom Cassani

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This research sets out to discover through practice what happens to our understanding of the practice of body-based performance magic when situated as Live Art and what happens when body-based Live Art is contextualised as apparently deceptive or as magic. This is realised through the methodological framework of Practice as Research in order to conduct reflective practice-based research methods. This methodology was used to; generate new findings, build on existing knowledge, conduct studio research and create new performance material the result of which was two new live performance outcomes. This methodological framework allowed me to position myself as practitioner researcher examining my own performance practice both as insider and outsider, asking questions of my own performance work and highlighting the outcomes. The practice research is framed through the lens of performance studies particularly using existing research in the areas of; readings of the body in performance (Turner 2016), performing risk, kinesthetic empathy (Reason 2006), embodied knowledge (Nelson 2013), potential space (Winnicott 1971), symbolism (Taylor 2018), and absence and repetition. The practical experiments conducted draw on the field of Performance Art and explore performance text, action, improvisation and repetition. Each of these areas individually contribute to expanding new territory in how we can think about performance magic. This research argues that through colliding practices of body-based Live Art and performance magic the body is situated as simultaneously both anti-magical and magical. It further argues that; potential magic space is foregrounded and self-reflective text allows for reinterpretation of magic. I then identify new modes of performance magic, specifically: time-based magic. These findings are analysed through two case studies which go on to set out how they contribute to the field of performance studies and performance magic.
Date of Award5 May 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorNik Taylor (Main Supervisor)

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