Session 4.2.2: ILLUMINATION

11:30, Sunday 9 May 2021 (1 hour 30 minutes)
Break    01:00 PM to 01:30 PM (30 minutes)
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The Unbearable Brightness of Beams: Light, Darkness and Not Seeing Clearly,

Yaron Shyldkrot, University of Sheffield, UK

This proposed paper seeks to examine lighting design by means of visual obfuscation. Building on the growing study of lighting practices, I explore the transformative role of light by looking at installations and performances which utilize light to confound or obstruct vision and generate experiences of not seeing clearly. The presumed definitiveness of sight lends itself to a deceptive impression of clarity and ocular biases that tie vision to fixity and certainty. Arguing against “an increasingly prevalent tradition of visual clarity” (Donger 2012: 14), I will trouble the notion that things are as they are because of how they are habitually seen and typically understood. To do so, I turn to both ends of the intensity scale, and reflect on the “manipulation of light that is blinding either in its brightness or in its absence” (Öztürk 2010: 306), analyzing my own practice as a maker of performance in the dark and examples from NONE collective and Ann Veronica Janssens. However, rather than suggesting that dazzling light and lack thereof simply eradicate sight, I will argue that these light works can produce altered forms of perception and sensory experiences. Challenging clear identification or recognition, they reveal concurrent multivalent interpretations of what is seen (or could be seen), holding the potential to bring different and new understandings to light.

Unseen Theatres,

Martin Welton, Queen Mary University of London, UK

This paper will consider the role and experience of seeing in theatrical events that displace the centrality of visual appearances in their design, performance, and reception. Since antiquity, theatre has been commonly understood as ‘the place of seeing’. However, many recent performances have sought to deflect or reduce the primacy of sight, by giving increased attention to scenographic and dramaturgical contexts that afford auditory, haptic or kinaesthetic engagements. In this paper, I will give particular discussion to Flight by Darkfield, part of a trilogy of performances staged in shipping containers. Taking their seats in what appears to be the cabin of a passenger jet, the audience are plunged into complete darkness, and, through the use of hydraulics and spatial audio, seemingly moved through a surreal and nightmarish crash. While seeing might otherwise go without saying, by foregrounding the un-seen as both act and object, such performances readdress how we name and understand it.

Governing the “drone stare”: Biogovernance, automation and nonhuman sensing,

John Shiga, Ryerson University, Canada

This paper explores legal-sensory issues arising from the diffusion of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or “drone” technology from the military into society more broadly. While there is a large body of literature on military applications of drones, considerably less scholarly attention has been given to consumer drones and their integration into contexts as diverse as policing, the creative industries and activism and advocacy. This paper traces the rise of consumer drones and their relation to broader shifts in both the way human and nonhuman senses are mobilized in systems of biogovernance and the way drones operate as contested sites for the automation of certain forms of regulatory activity that affect how and what we sense. The paper traces the nexus of technologies, institutions and practices which are shaping drone sensing, including the firms who embed certain "ways of seeing" into drone-based computer vision, digital modelling, avionics, and so forth but also the regulatory institutions, community-based groups and others who are contributing to the development of social norms, laws and technology-based controls that shape the way drones produce and mediate sensory data.

Ryerson University
University of Sheffield
Queen Mary University of London

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