PhD Thesis

[Ranked high by the Leonardo Abstracts Service 2019]


This thesis describes how I took part in a series of collaborations with dancers Danai Pappa and Katie Hall, musician George Williams and video artist Julie Kuzminska. To realise our collaborations, I built electronic sculptural instruments from junk using bricolage, the act of subversion, skip diving and appropriation. From an auto-ethnographic viewpoint, I explored how collaborations began, how relationships developed and how various levels of expertise across different disciplines were negotiated. I examined how the documentation of the performances related to, and could be realised as, video art in their own right. I investigated the themes of work, labour and effort that are used in the process of producing and documenting these works in order to better understand how to ‘create’. I analysed the gender dynamics that existed between my collaborators and myself, which led to the exploration of issues around interaction and intimacy, democratic roles and live art. The resulting works challenged gender stereotypes, the notion of what a musical instrument can be and how sound is produced through action/interaction. I found that reflective time was imperative; serendipity, constant awareness of one’s environment, community and intimate relationships greatly enhanced the success of the collaborations. Instruments became conduits and instigators with shifting implied genders based on their context or creative use. As well as sound being a product of movement, effort and interaction, I realised it was also an artefact of the instruments.

Below are six of the seven full works described in the thesis. The full set of video documents and performances can be found in the De Montfort University online archive here: