Re-situating Performance Within The Ambiguous, The Liminal, And The Threshold: Performance Practice Understood Through Theories Of Embodiment
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This thesis investigates performance as an embodied practice. It draws on theories of embodiment, which act as a catalyst for thinking about performance, and thus provide an interdisciplinary framework for conceptualising the body in performance. I explore a discourse that situates performance itself within the liminal, as an in-between condition, as something that does not fit in. I reflect on performances, ranging from music to cosmetic surgery, and I highlight the in-between conditions and the marginalised space that in my view posits performance as multivalent, multifaceted and full of potential. This line of enquiry is informed by my view of the body as a site of change, discord and ambiguity; what one can refer to as the threshold condition, or what Victor Turner calls the “state of betwixt and between” (Turner, 1982, p.17). I take the body as a starting point for this discussion, as I consider the body as a vanguard to providing a different view to the majority of current music and performance writings. I subscribe to the view that the multi-faceted and, at times, highly controversial debate that has been applied to the body, has not been equivalently explored in the discussion of performance. My background as a music performer who works extensively with new technologies leads me to examine predominantly performance environments that use such technologies. I thus draw on examples from laptop performances and from my work as designer and musician of various performative environments. Other ideas in this thesis are informed by the ways in which I engage with an instrument, prepare for, and think about a performance, as well as from being a listener to somebody else’s performance. A body of writings from various other disciplines forms the backbone to my investigation. I believe that these writings draw attention to essential facets of performance activities and provide different ways of conceptualising performance that I argue are currently under-explored in current music and performance texts.