Animating Everyday Objects in Performance

  • Jungmin Song

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis concerns how everyday objects produce meaning in the apparatus of
    performance. The arrangement of the apparatus—including the performer, space,
    time, objects, audience, and the choreography of these elements—acts to shift the
    meaning of objects and materials from the everyday. Meaning is determined by an object’s material properties—its flexibility and weight, the sound it makes—but
    these properties take on significance depending on what happens around and in
    relation to the object. This is a lesson that is familiar to observers and practitioners of puppet theatre. Puppets do not acquire meaning solely based on their outside characteristics. They also signify based on the material properties (such as malleability) that emerge when they are manipulated.

    My practice-based research, grounded in both puppetry and live art practices,
    displaces objects from the places they are customarily used in order to highlight or subvert the ways that objects are used in everyday life. I focus attention on the flux of objects in action. Animation emerges from my manipulation of such simple
    objects as paper, balloons, biscuits, glasses, thread and pencils. Animation in
    puppetry and object theatre is sometimes conceived as a means to give the
    appearance of life to dead objects, often by anthropomorphizing them. My
    understanding of animation is not mimetic, but involves a focus on emergent
    phenomena. I thereby interrogate the binary opposition of life and death. I also
    challenge the tendency to read objects and phenomena such as rainbows
    symbolically by dissociating them from their normal contexts and associated
    sentiments. Stripping objects of their accreted layers of meaning, I attend to the
    emergence of the here and now. Bridging concerns with the body and an objectii
    oriented ontology, I bring new theoretical understandings of the vibrancy of matter
    to live art and object performance.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorAdrian Heathfield (Supervisor) & Ioana Szeman (Supervisor)

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