I sometimes describe my research in theatre and performance as an attempt to put the stuff that is not human centre stage. I might perhaps trace this to my training and background in scenography, a field in which I worked professionally for around fifteen years. A focus on the other-than-human in theatre/performance informs my interlinking research interests: more-than-human performance, site-based and critical spatial practice and expanded scenography. Most of my research is undertaken through practice. For the past six years, my major focus has been on performance of/with rivers and other watercourses, such as canals and drainage systems. Alongside my other-than-human collaborators, I regularly work with artist, Nick Millar.
Recent research projects
Guddling About (2013—) is an on-going, evolving suite of performances or actions made by Nick and I with rivers and other watercourses. Guddling About began in Alberta, Canada during a residency with the City of Calgary Water Services Department, and has since been developed through residencies, commissions and festivals in Scotland, Germany, Spain, Australia and Finland. Guddling About takes the form of playful, often seemingly simple and apparently foolish actions, which are intended to encourage attentiveness to the specific characteristics of human-water inter-relations in the particular watery context in which we are working. The actions also, we believe, prompt us both to take seriously the vitality and agency of all matter, and to confront our ingrained anthropocentrism.
Living, Working, Playing with Water (2017—18) was a partnership project with Glasgow City Council Development and Regeneration Services and the Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Partnership, which developed the Guddling About tactics as a means of investigating and shaping perceptions of water in urban areas in Glasgow. The project aimed to address gaps in knowledge about drainage and surface water management and to improve the design and integration of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) in Glasgow and beyond. The project resulted in the publication of a report and toolkit. https://www.mgsdp.org/index.aspx?articleid=20291
THEN/NOW (2015—) was a public art project, made in collaboration with artists Nick Millar and Neil McGuire, with/for the Forth and Clyde Canal in Glasgow. It was commissioned by Scottish Canals/Scottish Waterways Trust. THEN/NOWtook the form of a series of participatory performances and events; three inter-linked ‘permanent’ artworks located on and adjacent to the Forth and Clyde Canal in Glasgow, which function as traces or markers of the ‘temporary’ performances and events; and a publication that documents, reflects on and contextualises the project. THEN/NOW engaged critically with the commissioning and practice of public art in relation to ideas of heritage, ecology and place-making. http://www.then-now.org
In earlier projects heritage, rather than ecology, was a perhaps more dominant concern. These projects include Bridging Part 1 and Bridging Part 2 (2010, 2014) a site-specific performance and film made with/for the River Clyde in Glasgow; High-Slack-Low-Slack-High (2012) a sonic performance responding to the tidal range of the River Clyde and Glimmers in Limbo (2007—8) two suites of site-responsive performances and installations in the Britannia Panopticon building and Tramway, Glasgow.