Camille Baker (UK)
(MASc. Interactive Arts, SMARTlab Digital Media Institute, University East London)

ART-AS-RESEARCH FOR MINDTOUCH: PARTICIPATORY PERFORMANCE AS RESEARCH IN MOBILE MEDIA

How do we understand Art as Research in participatory performance practice? How do new hybrid methods illuminate artists’ innovation not only in their practice, but also in research?

The aim of my PhD research project MindTouch is to uncover new understandings of the qualities and sensations of ‘liveness’ and ‘presence’ that may emerge when using mobile technologies with wearable devices in performance contexts. To explore these concepts, a project was developed to investigate them in a practical way using various participatory performance and visual installation modalities. This is manifested within live mobile media events, which uses biofeedback sensors and mobile devices in networked and remotely accessed artefacts, simulating embodied dream telepathy.

Within the project, practice is a means to innovate within this relatively new performance and technology domain. MindTouch has developed a hybrid, practice-based art research methodology that combines: performance-based structured improvisation for the workshop design and participatory performance activities; ethnography/ performance ethnography in observing; collecting and analysing interview data; phenomenology for the overall creative approach, performance design process and analysis; some visual methods to study and categorise the video imagery; as well as empirical methods used in the technology development and testing.

The viewpoint put forth in MindTouch is that one of the key approaches an artist or creator can take is to create their own philosophical or conceptual perspective on methodology, informed by their experience through practice. Thus, the more that an artist uses their work as the research, the artwork, artefact or performance as a contribution to knowledge, with the exegesis to support it, the more these methods and modes of enquiry can become accepted in academic examination, in their intrinsic artistic form alone.