Making with Agential Objects
: An Autoethnographic Account of Fluidity in Artistic Practice

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

This dissertation provides a practice-based investigation into how objects can be agential in guiding a fluid practice. It contributes performances, compositions, and installations wherein objects were given prominence as contributing entities. In expanding on my background as a percussionist, this research proposes that being attentive to an object’s tactile qualities can direct improvisation and performance, that open notation can serve to transmit one’s own bodily encounters with objects to other people, and that using video can help emphasise the associations of objects and their conceptual contributions to a piece. By drawing from post-percussion, New Discipline, and expanded field activities along with posthumanism, new materialism, and object-oriented philosophy, a practice that fluidly shapes to the changing materials and situations one encounters is presented.
The portfolio contains creative works wherein objects influenced my performative actions and my compositional choices. Particularly, unstable objects were worked with, and instruments were used beyond their normative functionalities. Significantly, the pieces merge an object-oriented approach with other disciplines, including field recording practice, collaborative devised dance, improvisation, multimedia performance, and audience-interactive installation art.
The commentary is divided into two parts. In part one, I consider agents to influence me through their tactile, physical, and immediate qualities and via their associable, referential capacities. While agents within my work have primarily been identified as found objects, instruments, or locations, I also discuss my interactions with video recordings and the collaborators I work with. Part two of the commentary expresses my artistic processes behind the portfolio. It uses autoethnographic writing to recount significant moments and thoughts that occurred during the projects, alongside retrospective reflective discussion.
This dissertation contributes an approach to fluidly practicing that centralises the agency of the objects one encounters both in the immediacy of performance and across a project’s duration. It contributes artistic works that manifested from an object-oriented approach and provides details on my creative processes. My account as a practitioner offers one possible way for foregrounding objects’ agency which may benefit future practitioners.
Date of Award19 Jul 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJulian Thomas (Co-Supervisor), Alex Harker (Co-Supervisor), Julian Thomas (Co-Supervisor) & Alex Harker (Co-Supervisor)

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