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Scenographic encounters : using cognitive theories to explore audience embodiment of performance spaces Ferguson, Alexander 2017

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Scenographic Encounters: using cognitive theories to explore  audience embodiment of performance spaces  by  Alexander Ferguson M.A., The University of British Columbia, 2009  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  Doctor of Philosophy in The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (Theatre)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  August 2017  © Alexander Ferguson, 2017   ii  Abstract  Neuroscience, philosophies of embodied cognition, architecture theory, performance theories of perceptual oscillation, and other relevant theories are used to analyze how artists create affective scenographic environments, and how attendants (spectators) embody these environments. Attendant perception of a performance environment, according to these theories, can be characterized as action-oriented embodied cognition — an attendant perceives through physical action, including action on a neural level. Theories of embodied cognition are applied to case studies — theatre performances — that include examples from the author’s work as a performance-maker and from the work of Socìetas Rafaello Sanzio, a company that has been instructive to the author’s understanding of the encounter between self and scenography. Theories of neural mapping, neural reuse, James J. Gibson’s theory of surface perception, metaphor theory, conceptual blending, the concept of haptic visual perception, and the physics of auditory perception are employed, in combination with detailed examples from the performances, to explain how an attendant somatically makes-sense-of/cognizes that which is encountered. Some common configurations from the history of Western scenography are discussed in order to further elucidate how and why an attendant might use existing cultural and personal image schemas to find meaning in the spatial arrangement of a given performance design. In addition, the performances examined, all of which encourage perceptual instability for the attendant, necessitate rethinking the notion of cognition in performance — not-knowing is as valuable a state as knowing. To this end the theory of neural reuse and philosophies regarding self-and-other, where other is extended to include nonhuman materialities, are employed in a later chapter to argue for the importance of non-cognition, a state of prolonged unknowing that iii  allows for new perceptual insights. Each case study concludes with a set of dramaturgical questions intended to have practical use for performance makers and dramaturges, and analytical use for scholars.    iv  Lay Summary The dissertation examines how audience members use mind and body, as an integrated unity, to make sense of their surroundings during a theatrical performance. Ferguson, a scholar, performance maker, and co-Artistic Director of the internationally acclaimed performance group Fight With a Stick, explores how artists create spatial compositions in which audience members use their physical memories and neural patterns to enter new perceptual states.   v  Preface  All research in this dissertation, including methodological structure and practice research, was created and undertaken by the author.  vi  TABLE OF CONTENTS  Abstract .......................................................................................................................................... ii		Lay Summary ............................................................................................................................... iv Preface .............................................................................................................................................v	Table of Contents ......................................................................................................................... vi	List of Figures ............................................................................................................................... ix		Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................................ x	Dedication ................................................................................................................................... xiii	Chapter 1  Introduction ................................................................................................................1	1.1	 Embodied cognition of scenography .............................................................................. 1 1.2	 Explaining terms ............................................................................................................. 4 1.3	 The case studies .............................................................................................................. 7 1.4	 The chapters .................................................................................................................. 20  Chapter 2  Practice research and methodology ........................................................................30	2.1	 Practice research ........................................................................................................... 30	2.1.1	 Rigour and standards ................................................................................................. 32 2.1.2	 New knowledge vs. trans-disciplinary thinking ........................................................ 35 2.1.3	 The delusion of objectivity ....................................................................................... 39 2.1.4	 Instrumentalizing practice research .......................................................................... 39 2.1.5	 New knowledge and the market paradigm ................................................................ 41 2.1.6	 Misapplication of the scientific method .................................................................... 42 2.1.7	 Unpredictability, unrepeatability, and generative dialogue ...................................... 45 2.1.8	 Close and far ............................................................................................................. 48 2.1.9	 Archive instability ..................................................................................................... 49 2.1.10	 Transmission is transformation ................................................................................. 56 2.1.11	 Emergent methodology ............................................................................................. 58 2.1.12	 Inter- and trans-disciplinary thinking, part two ........................................................ 59 2.1.13	 Abstraction vs. the whole .......................................................................................... 67 2.2	 Methodology ................................................................................................................. 69	2.2.1	 Audience reception theory and getting to embodied cognition ................................ 69 2.2.2	 Theories of the materiality of attendant-performance relationship ........................... 78 2.2.3	 Architecture and scenographic theory ...................................................................... 79 2.2.4	 Two and three dimensions — screens on stage ........................................................ 81 2.2.5	 Synaesthesia, multimodal perception ........................................................................ 82 2.2.6	 Uncertainty ................................................................................................................ 84 vii  2.2.7	 Neural maps .............................................................................................................. 86 2.2.8	 Into the unknown knowledge outcome ..................................................................... 87  Chapter 3  Theoretical frameworks: cognition and perception ..............................................91	3.1	 Neural maps and conceptual blending .......................................................................... 91 3.2	 Feeling space through sensorimotor perception of the surface layout .......................... 95	3.2.1	 Gibson’s theory of visual perception ...................................................................... 101	3.3	 Metaphor theory, memory, and performance conventions ......................................... 103 3.4	 Simulation, memory, and complex metaphors ........................................................... 112	3.5	 Maps of unknowing and embracing uncertainty ......................................................... 116	 Chapter 4  Making sense of sound in Leaky Heaven Theatre’s To Wear a Heart so White: neural maps, ear anatomy, auditory mechanics, memory, neural reuse ...........122	4.1	 The performance composition, genre expectations, sound design ............................. 122	4.2	 Synaesthesia and multi-modal mapping ..................................................................... 143 4.3	 Mechanical and electrical propagation of sound ........................................................ 147	4.4	 Some dramaturgical questions for the artist and scholar inspired by sound design in  To Wear a Heart so White .......................................................................................... 155  Chapter 5  The perspective stage and sensorimotor schemas in Steppenwolf ......................158	5.1	 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 158	5.2	 The perspective stage and the significance of depth ................................................... 159 5.3	 Steppenwolf and the Pacing scene ............................................................................... 163 5.4	 Perception of surfaces and Gibson's theory of affordances ........................................ 171 5.5	 Lateral and rotational movement; the vanishing point ............................................... 178 5.6	 Metaphor theory, sensorimotor schemas, and the embodiment of spatial depth ........ 197 5.7	 Dramaturgical questions regarding perception, sensorimotor affordance, image schemas, and perceptual affect, based on Steppenwolf .............................................. 206	 Chapter 6  Conceptual Blending in the Carnival scene from Steppenwolf ...........................211	6.1	 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 211	6.2	 Carnival scene sources — tableaux vivants and frames ............................................. 214 6.3	 The Carnival scene ...................................................................................................... 219	6.4	 Conceptual Blending ................................................................................................... 222	6.5	 Dramaturgical questions and exercises based on conceptual blending, neural interference, and attendant oscillation in the Carnival scene ..................................... 250	 Chapter 7 Affordances, the disruption of pattern completion, and maps of unknowing in Socìetas Rafaello Sanzio’s P.#06Paris ...............................................................254	7.1	 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 254	7.2	 P.#06 Paris, surface perception, affordances ............................................................. 258 7.3	 Perceptual presence, the trauma of astonishment  – knowing and not knowing ........ 270	7.4	 Dramaturgical questions regarding movement, oscillation, knowing and not  knowing in relation to P#06. Paris ............................................................................ 294	 viii  Chapter 8: Conclusion ...............................................................................................................300	Works Cited ................................................................................................................................310	Appendix A  Dramaturgical Questions ....................................................................................323	ix  List of Figures Figure 1 A projection of an audience ............................................................................................ 10 Figure 2 From the latter part of der Wink ..................................................................................... 15	Figure 3 During rehearsal of der Wink ......................................................................................... 16 Figure 4 After the end of der Wink ............................................................................................... 17 Figure 5 A white vinyl cover rises .............................................................................................. 164 Figure 6 A few minutes later ...................................................................................................... 164 Figure 7 Pacing sequence ............................................................................................................ 166 Figure 8 Laptops ......................................................................................................................... 180 Figure 9 Statue-like figure .......................................................................................................... 180 Figure 10 A digital projection ..................................................................................................... 181 Figure 11 After positioning the house structure ......................................................................... 182 Figure 12 The Tick Tock Room .................................................................................................. 187 Figure 13 Later in the sequence .................................................................................................. 187 Figure 14 On the left ................................................................................................................... 194 Figure 15 The Carnival scene ..................................................................................................... 220 Figure 16 The simplest form of an integration network ............................................................. 224 Figure 17 Basic integration network ........................................................................................... 230 Figure 18 Three of the mental spaces ......................................................................................... 231 Figure 19 An integration network with matches and compressions ........................................... 233 Figure 20 An integration network showing the "emergent structure" ........................................ 236 Figure 21 The Carnival scene ..................................................................................................... 238 Figure 22 The horse in P.#6 Paris .............................................................................................. 259 Figure 23 The baby in B.#4 Brussels .......................................................................................... 268 Figure 24 Cars falling in P.#6 Paris ........................................................................................... 276 Figure 25 Naked woman and furry creatures .............................................................................. 279 Figure 26 Naked woman without scrim ...................................................................................... 279 Figure 27 On the Concept of the Face Regarding the Son of God ............................................. 280   x  Acknowledgements  I would like to thank, first and foremost, my adviser Jerry Wasserman who has guided me through not one, but two degrees! His open-mindedness and support for my theoretical and practical explorations have made this dissertation possible. I ventured far from some of the traditional concerns of our theatre department. Professor Wasserman let me run, even into the pedagogical environment of a very different department in a very different university. The combination of traditional and practice research approaches that are combined in this study has also been a little out of the norm. Professor Wasserman embraced this too. He put a lot of faith in me and I hope I have rewarded him and our department with my efforts. I also want to express my admiration and gratitude for his commitment to and championing of the students that graduate from this program as they strike out into academic and professional careers. Jerry Wasserman has been the best kind of booster of the theatre and film department, its faculty, and most of all its students. This has also been a practice research study. This means I have created a number of professional productions with my theatre company Fight With a Stick Performance (formerly Leaky Heaven Theatre). These productions have made up three of the four case studies in this dissertation. They have been made with a number of remarkable artists from theatre, visual arts, contemporary dance, sound arts, and more. My chief collaborator has been Steven Hill, who founded the company in 1999. I started working with Hill in 2013. He was the first theatre artist I worked with who asked the question, “What is theatrical representation?” The question now seems so central I can’t imagine beginning a new creation without asking it and considering its historical and immediate cultural implications. Our process starts there. With Hill I learned to xi  take nothing for granted and to do nothing simply out of habit. The past four years have been one continuous performance adventure. My two sons were little kids when I started the MA that led to this PHD. Damon is now nineteen and studying computer game design. Beckett is 15 and trying to figure out high school. We’ve had a lot of interesting discussions over the years. I thank them for that. But most of all I want to thank my indomitable partner Delia Brett — dancer, choreographer, and co-artistic director of MACHiNENOiSY Dance. Her support has never wavered. Not for an instant. I’ve learned from her as a life-partner, and her work as an artist has been an inspiration to me. We have found opportunities to collaborate artistically under her company or mine. The creative and intellectual exchange has been rich. She is in this dissertation in ways I can’t explain. When I look to the work of great artists for inspiration and instruction, hers is among a handful I reference frequently. A SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Award saw me through the first three years of my studies and I am very grateful. For the first time in my life I knew where my rent cheque was coming from, which is a very comforting feeling. Further support for my fourth year was given in various forms from within my theatre department. The BC Arts Council, a provincial government funding agency I am familiar with from my work as a theatre artist, came to my aid as a scholar through its External Graduate Awards program. I am thankful to all the funding bodies that have supported me. Finally, it’s only recently that I’ve come to notice a few things I had taken for granted. I grew up in Canada with the privileges an ordinary citizen can come to expect (or at least could have expected until recently; we’ll see what the near future holds in store), including affordable education. Upon receiving my MA, my ex-partner and friend Suzanne Hawkes, mother of xii  Damon, waxed on about what an accomplishment it was for me, the son of a low-income immigrant family from Greece, to achieve a university diploma. This gave me pause to reflect. The main point of my parents emigrating to Canada in 1959 (Dad) and 1960 (Mom and my older siblings) was to have a better life and to give their children opportunities that, at the time, weren’t readily available to them in Greece. All three of my older siblings dropped out of high school; all three later got their diplomas as adults and went on to post-secondary study. I was the only one who felt entitled enough to pursue exactly what I wanted, first as a visual artist, then as a professional theatre artist (mostly as an actor), and then as a scholar-artist. When I got the MA diploma I didn’t think it was a big deal. Now I’m trying for a PHD. When I think of my still low-income mother (my Dad died over a decade ago), my struggling older sister Georgia, my brother Peter who gets by, and my oldest sister Jenny who has given up so much for her children and who has been the main care-giver for my ailing mother, I feel a certain humility.   I can’t pretend I’ve done this alone. When I look at it from my mother’s perspective, and when I feel how important it is to her, I realize it is in fact a big deal. Something that goes beyond my personal ambitions. I’ve been to places where people feel there is no way up or out. Some of those places are right here in Canada. A lot of them have been south of the border in the USA where education can be prohibitively expensive. My hope is that Canada will continue to be a country that, despite the economic trends of the past few decades, provides opportunity for all, especially education for all, including low-income citizens like me.  xiii  Dedication  I dedicate this study to: 1. The great performances I have seen and hope to see. 2. The eradication of income inequality. 1  Chapter 1: Introduction  1.1 Embodied cognition of scenography In this dissertation I use concepts from neuroscience, theories of embodied cognition, and related theories to explain how attendants1 embody scenographic environments. An umbrella term for the theories discussed is embodied cognition. A further refinement of the term would be action-oriented embodied cognition. The implication is that cognition is perceptual action as opposed to passive reception of sensory stimuli. A commonly used term in theatre that describes the latter is “passive spectator.”2 Much of this dissertation challenges whether a spectator is ever passive. Putting all of the above together, the intent of the dissertation is to explore the following:                                                 1 I usually use attendant and attendants in place of spectator and audience for reasons performance theorist and theatre historian Di Benedetto who seems to have coined the usage, gives. He argues that the term spectator privileges the visual and the textual and does not address the greater “physiological” experience of the participant (Di Benedetto “Guiding” 126-27). For him attendant means bringing one’s whole sensory being to the event and implies “presence  and participation.” Theatre scholar and performance theorist of sound George Home-Cook uses attendant for similar reasons and because in a study of theatre and aural attention the term spectator would privilege the wrong sense (Home-Cook passim). 2 Philosopher Jacques Ranciere argues against the premise of the passive spectator in his influential essay “The Emancipated Spectator.” He critiques a number of assumed “equivalences” typically associated with theatre spectatorship including “seeing and passivity” (Ranciere 274). Historically in various theories of theatre and audience one’s distance from and passive observance of the spectacle of performance is equated with a fracturing of self: through the passive act of viewing one is deprived of 2                                                                                                                                                         agency and “captured by images” (272). The viewing self is divided from the active, participatory self. Modernist and postmodernist antidotes for this fracturing include Brechtian alienation tactics that encourage intellectual engagement and political action through critical distance, and Artaudian immersion in shamanistic ritual performance. A further implication of such active or immersive spectatorship is that it will produce an audience that is socially bonded in a communitarian spirit — a community of shared values and political consensus. Ranciere like theorists of embodied cognition, but in a different register, questions the assertion that passivity implies uncritical submission to the spectacle and that an audience bonded in a communitarian spirit through active participation or immersion is a desired or even possible outcome. He troubles arguments (continuing to this day in theatre and performance studies such as Fischer-Licthe’s The Transformative Power of Performance and Lehmann’s Postdramatic Theatre) that suggest the antidote to optical self-fracturing of the spectator is a restoration, through the theatre event, of her “self-consciousness and self-activity” (274). For Ranciere, as for cognitive theorists, the “gap between activity and inactivity” is a mere presupposition (277). Distance, he argues, does not automatically imply fractured passivity. In actuality the viewer is actively engaged, making associations with her past experiences and re-making what she views. (This is consistent with my arguments regarding neural simulation and the activation of neural maps — in other words activating memories and contrasting and comparing them with immediate phenomena for the purpose of making sense of these phenomena). Passive spectatorship is not a “natural” consequence of the audience-performance spatial relationship. It is an assumed and sometimes desired attitude. It is a political concept that can cut various ways. An authoritarian and conservative ruling class may prefer a passive audience that does not challenge official discourse. The basic spatial and cultural structure of the theatre can be used to support the status quo. The same structure can be used by other artists and other attendants to challenge official discourse and provide alternative modes of perceptual engagement. Distance between a viewer and what is viewed is not an inherently alienating experience: “Spectatorship is not a passivity that must be turned into activity . . . We 3  (1) How scenographic environments are embodied by attendants through action-oriented cognition. (2) How artists create such environments.  I apply the concepts of embodied cognition of scenography to three main case studies from my own practice as a deviser and co-director with both Leaky Heaven Theatre (the opening sequence of To Wear a Heart so White — Chapter 4) and Fight With a Stick Performance (the “Pacing” and “Carnival” scenes from Steppenwolf — Chapter 5 and 6). In each case study I explain the aesthetic choices made by my co-devisers and me, and how the attendant engages with them bodily. In a fourth case study I describe my experience of encountering the work of director Romeo Castellucci and his company Socìetas Rafaello Sanzio. Here I put myself in the position of attendant and, in a sense, test my arguments on myself. Although my work is very different from Castellucci’s, he and his company have had a profound impact on my understanding of theatre as an encounter between self and scenography. I have not been interested in imitating his work, and would not have the skill to do so. Rather, I have wanted to become as aware as his company is of all the factors that make up a compelling performance design. The Castellucci case study, Chapter 7, follows the studies of my own work for three reasons: (1) I did not want the earlier case studies to be read through the lens of Castellucci’s work; (2) In the Castellucci chapter I develop the concept of a map of unknowing which requires familiarity with theories of embodied cognition (maps of knowing) discussed in preceding chapters. Thus the theory of a map of unknowing is built upon arguments made in those chapters; (3) I wanted to test my                                                                                                                                                        act and know, as spectators who link what they see with what they have seen and told, done and dreamed” (279). 4  arguments on myself, and explore the complications and challenges Castellucci’s scenography poses to the issue of embodied cognition.   Finally, in grounding this dissertation in concepts from cognitive neuroscience and related theories of sensorimotor perception (how we perceive possibilities for action), I argue that we come to understand the spatial, aural, and textural characteristics of a performance design through the formation of neural patterns. These formations allow us to embody — make sense of with our bodyminds — such environments. “Meaning” is derived from spatial relationships. However, because I have seen so much performance that disrupts perceptual stability for the purpose of inducing new experiential states, and because, as a theatre artist, I make that kind of performance, I complement/unsettle the neural map of knowing with my concept of a neural map of unknowing. In theorizing a map of unknowing I attempt to describe a perceptual state of uncertainty and wonder. (The chapters on The Pacing Scene from Steppenwolf by my company Fight With a Stick, and P.#06 Paris by Socìetas Rafaello Sanzio are particularly relevant to this). The dissertation is thus two-headed: it addresses the attendant’s experience of a performance, while at the same time examining how a group of scenographically-minded performance makers design the experience. Theories of embodied cognition provide explanatory tools.  1.2 Explaining terms Embodiment and neural patterns By “embodying” a scenographic environment I mean through seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting, the attendant activates and modifies her existing neural patterns to engage with phenomena in the world, and that these patterns, unique to each individual, have the structure of the phenomena encountered. To have the structure of what is encountered is to say 5  that patterns of neurons, also referred to as “neural maps,” fire in the brain in a way that analogically preserves, to a certain extent, the shapes, forms, and spatial relationships of that which is seen, heard, touched, etc. Neural patterns are not representations of experience in the usual way we think of representations. They are the stuff our brains are made of. They are part of our bodies. We are our neural patterns.  Scenography and embodiment For me a scenographic environment can be a theatre stage, auditorium, and everything in it. It can also be a sited performance in which artists provide a conceptual framework that offers the attendant a physical stand-point, or moving-points, in relation to the site. In this dissertation I tend to break things down to the materiality of surfaces and focus on interior theatrical settings. Following James J. Gibson’s theory of visual perception and “affordances” (opportunities to do things), I describe the scenography of the case studies as the arrangement of things (including people) — with an emphasis on the surfaces of things, which is what we primarily encounter. Although I tend to speak of what we encounter as materialities, I do not mean to reduce experience to one material (including a human body) bumping up against another. As anthropologist Tim Ingold puts it, we do not see light, but see through light; we are infused by the media we live in — air, light, and water (Ingold 10-13). At the same time, these phenomena do have material existence: for example, air has mass and weight and it enters our ears as pressure. This becomes significant when designing a performance space. Artists in theatre arrange things in space. We place one object next to, in front of, behind, above, or below another. We move things around one another; and we change the perception of things through 6  colour, texture, light, sound, composition, and decomposition. This is fundamental to the way I understand and create scenographic environments. Embodiment of the “space” of scenography means feeling the distance between yourself and the objects that surround you, the distance between one object and another, and how these distances afford movement as pathways to and around them. For example: you watch the performance area, you see things, and you make sense of the distance to things and the pathways around them by activating sensorimotor neural patterns that allow you to feel distance, narrowness, vastness, and so on. Your own body is the measure. In addition to understanding distance and pathways, you activate “haptic”3 neural patterns to understand how things feel to touch, even when you are only looking at them. Some of the other factors that contribute to your embodied sense of the performance design are intensity and wavelength of light (these can change the perception of the size, weight, colour, and texture of a surface) and sound (volume and timbre of acoustic and, especially, amplified sound, can change the way you perceive the shape, size, and weight of materials and of the general space around you).    Embodied mind and scenography Thus embodiment means engaging with a scenographic environment by using your whole bodymind. According to the logic of embodied cognition there is no other way to do this. It is impossible to engage with your surrounding in a disembodied way. Embodiment theories sourced in this dissertation reject the notion of internal representations of the world. You do not                                                 	 3	Haptic: feeling the things you see with your whole body — a kind of “tactile” vision. See discussions of haptic architecture (Juhani Pallasmaa) and haptic film image (Laura Marks) below. 7  create representations — “pictures-in-the-head” — of what you encounter, that then mediate reality for you. There is no meaningful separation between body and mind, no Cartesian mind located in a metaphysical location within the brain or in a transcendent realm outside of the body. You encounter the world, including scenography, holistically — as bodymind.  1.3 The case studies  The first three case studies are of work I have made with other devisers. To Wear a Heart so White (2014) was made with Leaky Heaven Theatre under the direction of Steven Hill. I was a researcher, scenographic adviser, and performance deviser. The next two were made by Fight With a Stick Performance. I became co-Artistic Director of Leaky Heaven at the time we changed the name of the company to Fight With a Stick. Two of the case studies are from our inaugural show Steppenwolf (2015), co-directed by Hill and me, with an interdisciplinary group of devisers, many of whom were involved in the other case study, To Wear a Heart so White, under the previous Leaky Heaven name. I have also added commentary regarding der Wink (2013), my first show with the company, and Revolutions (2016), our latest production. Revolutions carried forward many of the principles explored in the previous shows, and did so with many of the same devisers. All of the shows described were approached by the company scenographically. I will explain this in more detail below, but I mean that the devisers, as a group, were first and foremost concerned with the performance environment before other considerations. Philosopher Hans Gumbrecht argues in Production of Presence: What Meaning Cannot Convey for the importance of “presence effects,” which can broadly be described as spatial relationships, in the creation of meaning. That which is present to us, he writes, “is in front of us, in reach and tangible for our bodies” (Gumbrecht 17). Production of presence, he 8  further elucidates, “implies that the (spatial) tangibility effect coming from the communication media is subjected, in space, to movements of greater or lesser proximity, and of greater or lesser intensity” (17). “Meaning effects,” thinking-about or interpreting, are never completely forgotten or avoidable, of course. Fight With a Stick oscillates, and sometimes vacillates, between the two effects, but we tend to put our faith in foregrounding presence effects. The final case study is from Socìetas Rafaello Sanzio’s P.#06 Paris, and is of interest due to Castellucci’s particular way of exploiting sensorimotor tension through the arrangement of surfaces. It also allows me to use myself as a kind of test subject to further illustrate some of the concepts explored in the dissertation. As I wrote above, I have chosen Castellucci because of the profound impact he has had on my understanding of performance and scenography.  A scenographic approach to devising theatre  To Wear a Heart so White, for which I was scenographic consultant and performer, and Steppenwolf, which I co-directed, are discussed in detail in this dissertation. These shows, as well as der Wink (2013), an earlier Leaky Heaven show that I worked on as a deviser, and my most recent co-directed work Revolutions (2016) were approached by the company scenographically — meaning the devisers’ main concern was with architectural space, audience-performance configuration, and audience immersion in the performance “apparatus,” none of which conformed in an obvious way to traditional theatre models. Traditional spatial configurations informed our staging, as will be discussed Chapters Five and Six, but not in a readily apparent manner.   In each of the shows the audience is situated within the scenography, rather than at a distance from it as in a conventional proscenium theatre. We construct what we call genre-9  spaces — spatial configurations that suggest cultural tropes (a church gathering, a campsite, a banquet, etc.) and physical settings (a room, a house), and lend themselves to performance styles (psychological realism, Victorian melodrama, documentary narration, human as puppet), or atmospheres — the way all design elements combine to give the room, at a given moment, a particular feel that is immediately sensed by the attendant. Conventional concerns such as character, story, and dramatic arc either do not come into our considerations or are dealt with in such a way that they serve scenographic concerns first. We do not work with text as a primary organizing principle, although it can be among the organizing principles, as in Steppenwolf in which the performance was sequenced according to the general movements of Herman Hesse’s novel of the same title. Actors tend to be thought of as objects, having equal or lesser status than other objects. Objects tend to be thought of as actants having equal status with actors.4 Character, when considered, is usually schematized as “type” or as its own locus of scenographic affect. We look equally to objects, sounds, lights, and atmosphere for generative principles.  In To Wear a Heart so White we created one genre space after another around the audience through sound, the introduction of a few objects (a podium, taxidermy, a banquet table, a pig-head carcass), and sometimes of projected video (the fronds of coniferous trees to frame a scene, a projection of an audience looking back at the audience). This was done in order to radically change the feel of each genre space.                                                  4 Jane Bennett, in Vibrant Matter, calls for putting human agency in a more “horizontal” relationship with the nonhuman in order to avoid presuming human mastery and to better understand the limits of our influence on “assemblages” (short or long term coalitions of human and nonhuman actants) small and large. 10    Figure 1 (Screen shot) A projection of an audience (on the upstage wall of the proscenium stage) looking back at the live audience (not seen in this image) in the main hall. An actor playing Macbeth (me) performs to the audience projection. An actor playing Banquo (Sean Marshall Jr.) carries an uncooked pig’s head on a platter through the main hall where the audience is seated. This moment represents a transition from what we called the Victorian Playhouse space to the Elizabethan Banquet space. (To Wear a Heart so White)  The choice of genre spaces was influenced by my study of the history of Western performance space from ancient Greece to the present, heavily guided by theatre historian David Wiles’ A Short History of Western Performance Space, as well as me and my co-director’s interest in confronting our settler-colonist narratives in the province of British Columbia. 11  In Steppenwolf we put the audience between a bank of mirrors and three stage decks.5 The attendants looked at the mirrors to see the action unfolding behind them. This creative investigation was initiated by Hill’s interest in mirrors and self-reflection, as well as psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan’s theory of the “mirror-stage” of psychological development, in which an individual develops the notion of ego through seeing themselves in a mirror. We then began to explore the way objects can be isolated, revealed, and obscured when looking at them in a mirror. This included investigating how sound can be localized to objects and then expanded to surround the attendant — and what this does to our relationship with the objects when “heard” while observed in a mirror: in what ways does the attendant connect and disconnect sound with object? The novel Steppenwolf was later sourced for theme and for text extracts. A guiding principle, throughout all of this, was to treat every element, including human performers, as objects — as materials that can be arranged and composed. Everything — sound, light, spoken words — was treated as a plastic element. We posed questions to ourselves such as, “How do we give spoken words an object-like status?” Texture/timbre and auditory dynamic became more important than narrative or logic. How to make light concrete? How to make sound parcel-like? And so on.                                                    5 Hill had created a similar set-up for a Leaky Heaven show, Project X: Faust, several years earlier. Prior to my becoming co-AD of Fight With a Stick, Hill had been in conversation with the PuSh Festival about remounting the earlier show. Instead, for Steppenwolf, we kept the basic audience-mirror configuration and threw out the Project X: Faust content. 12  I have spent many years in theatre (as actor, writer, director, dramaturg, and sometimes as critic),6 and to an extent in contemporary dance (as an actor-mover, dramaturg, scenographic                                                 6 I graduated from Studio 58, the well-known Theatre Arts Program at Langara College in Vancouver. I was exposed to many actor training methods, from American interpretations of Stanislavsky, to clown, to Grotowski, to Lecoq influenced commedia dell’arte. While I became very good at psychological realism and went on to win Jessie Richardson awards and nominations for some of my professional acting work in that vein, it was the “outside-in” work — connected in different ways to commedia — that had a lasting influence on me (I also received Jessie awards and nominations for my acting work in that vein). There were two teachers who contributed to my interest in form and type. Kathryn Shaw, the Artistic Director of Studio 58, put me through commedia training for the purpose of creating characters for Moliere. Canadian theatre luminary Morris Panych took a somewhat similar approach when he cast me in the title role of Moliere’s one-act, Sganarelle. It was at Studio 58 that Panych developed, over a number of productions, and in collaboration with Wendy Gorling, the signature style that led to his famous production of The Overcoat. Sganarelle was the beginning. On the first day of rehearsal, contrary to the approaches of most directors I had worked with (breaking the script down into beats, determining the character’s super-objective, using techniques for finding emotional “truth,” and so on), Panych had us go to the costume room and pick out funny wigs and garments for ourselves (Interesting side note: Stanislavsky created the characters he played in this manner; he put on wigs and make-up and looked in a mirror). It was through allowing the wig and the garments to effect my movement and attitude that I discovered the physiology of the character. This taught me to regard my body as a plastic element. The focus was not on digging out an interior world of psychological “truth,” but on manipulating the body, including the voice, for effect. Between this type of training and my experiences in contemporary dance (see next footnote) I came to see the body as an object on stage that, like other objects, can be manipulated scenographically for its potential expressivity.  13  consultant, writer, and critic), and have become dissatisfied with the theatre’s fixation on the human figure as the main carrier of meaning. Connected to this dissatisfaction is a lack of belief in the psychological-realist protagonist as hero, which is still the premise of most conventional theatre. I believe that on some level people look to theatre for moral, ethical, and political instruction, and I am very suspicious of the individual-as-solver-of-problems model of instruction. My engagement with contemporary dance, as both performer and attendant, shifted my way of thinking about the human figure in performance. Often in contemporary dance the performer, while not stripped of recognizable human expression, is treated as a formal element — to a significant extent even in famous expressionist choreography such as that of Pina Bausch. It was in contemporary dance that I first learned to use my body as a scenographic element rather than as a psychologically coherent being exercising personal human will.7 Castellucci kicked me into a whole other level of understanding. In 2008 I saw Hey Girl! at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in Vancouver. There was a central human figure in Hey Girl! but nonhuman elements — dripping latex goop, lasers, perfume, a glass window that seemed to self-                                                7 My early work in dance was as an actor-mover with Vancouver companies DanStaBat, Holy Body Tattoo, Kokoro Dance, and others. I then worked as a dramaturg with several companies, including Kinesis Dance and Shay Kuebler. With Kinesis and MACHiNENOiSY Dance I have worked as a writer-dramaturg and writer-performer, respectively. In recent years I have been invited in as dramaturg and scenographic consultant. At the time of this writing I am working with choreographer Helen Walkley, composer James Maxwell, and dancers Josh Martin and Olivia Schaffer on a work that is driven by a series of letters from Walkley’s family archive, a musical composition that includes a live harp player, and movement improvisation. I am both a dramaturg and performer in this work, but I also draw on my past relationship as librettist on several projects with Maxwell. 14  shatter, a giant painting — became actants in a way that I had not previously witnessed in theatre. I had experienced something of the sort in sound installations, but seeing this degree of object expressivity in a theatre context was new to me. I have subsequently seen five of Castellucci’s shows live, in Vancouver, LA, Montreal, and Paris, and another fourteen on video. I have seen a show where the culminating action was of gigantic constructed flowers moving across the stage (Purgatorio in 2009) and another where the focus was on moving walls rather than on the performers moving among them (Oedipus in 2015), to offer just two examples.  My first show as a deviser with Leaky Heaven with director Steven Hill was instructive in this way. There were human performers (I was one of them), but the most significant action was that of moving walls made of cardboard. Hill created the scenography of der Wink with architect Jesse Garlick. A grid of eighty chairs was created for the audience to sit on. This was divided into four quadrants of twenty chairs each. Forty 4’ x 8’ walls of cardboard, some with windows cut out of them, were moved constantly to change the architecture of the performance area. By sliding them between attendants, barriers were created and then removed.   15   Figure 2 (Screen shot) From the latter part of der Wink. Some of the 4’ x 8’ walls are still upright. Others have been turned on their sides in preparation for the final sequence. (der Wink)  Sometimes “rooms” were made around one or more attendants. The shifting walls at times blocked sight lines and at others produced short or long vistas. An audience member might be framed in a window that was close by or at the other end of the grid. Sometimes one was overwhelmed by light and sound. Most of the rehearsal period was spent choreographing the movement of the walls.  16   Figure 3 (Screen Shot) During rehearsal of der Wink. Director Steven Hill (right top) and architect-set designer Jesse Garlick (bottom right) sit among the arrangement of chairs. (der Wink)  As performer-devisers we also created very short, transitory scenes that emerged with the movement of the walls and then melted away. But the central affect of the performance was the choreography of walls.   17   Figure 4 (Screen shot) After the end of der Wink. Chairs can be seen among the vertical and horizontal walls. Some of the video projections can be seen on the surfaces. (der Wink)  Thematically the show was concerned with issues of citizenship and mutual responsibility. But the here-and-now of it was the action of attendants observing one another through the maze of an ever-moving scenography of walls.  Through my involvement with contemporary dance, exposure to Castellucci and installation art, and through my work with Steven Hill during the past few years, I have come to appreciate the expressivity of nonhuman elements in theatrical performance. I have consciously raised my awareness of these materials, of their ability to carry meaning, of their behaviour, and of how they can be put into dialogue with one another. Significantly, in the context of this dissertation, I have come to understand how an attendant engages with these materials and with the whole scenographic assemblage (to borrow an important term from Deleuze and Guattari that implies various materials, including humans, temporarily combining to create a situation or state-18  of-affairs)8 as embodied mind. Installation art offers an example of how attendants can engage meaningfully with art/performance when there is no human figure to identify with. Installation/sound artist Janet Cardiff describes her installations as “hybrids between theatre, music, and the visual arts” (“Lost in the Memory Palace”). Some of her installations seem to create environments that strongly suggest the invisible presence of a human figure, one the attendant can create for herself in collaboration with Cardiff’s scenography.9 In others it is the attendant that is central human figure — you immerse yourself in the installation and become the chief agent. It is through the composition of objects, sound, and light that Cardiff creates her particular affects. Human figures are not essential for creating a theatre performance although they can continue to enrich the experience with their presence. We called Steppenwolf a “theatre installation” in order to shift audience expectation away from looking to the human figures on                                                  8 The concept of assemblage is developed in various parts of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. The chapter “10,000 BC: The Geology of Morals” is perhaps the most relevant here: “A single assemblage can borrow from different strata, and with a certain amount of apparent disorder,” write the authors as they develop a geological metaphor in which different orders of assemblages which are also called “rhizomes” interact with other orders, creating greater assemblages. These can collectively create particular intensities or directions of force. The parts of an assemblage can work in concert or in conflict, and this will somewhat determine their overall efficacy or type of intensity. The authors continue: “conversely, a stratum or element of a stratum can join others in functioning in a different assemblage” (73). Above I called the description of strata a metaphor but it can also refer to actual geological strata and all the actants and non-actants that make them up.  9 Theatre scholar Josette Feral, in her analysis of Cardiff’s work, calls this a “presence effect” (see Feral). 19  stage as the primary carriers of meaning. People can and do make meaning from nonhuman elements. That is part of the premise of this dissertation — that the attendant is able to embody and have a meaningful encounter with a scenographic environment whether or not it is inhabited by human figures.  I should also add that as part of the creation process Hill and I, together with our collaborators, delve deeply into theory and history. This includes performance theory, philosophy, psychology, the history of theatrical performance, and more. Because we work with artists from other disciplines — architects, video artists, fabric installation artists, choreographers — these artists are relied on to bring new perspectives to the process through their practice and through the theoretical readings they bring to the group. We spend months thinking and theorizing what the performance we are aiming for might be like. We then get into the studio and try things out. Theory meets practice. Practice fails. We go back to theory. We practice. We work with materials. Something sticks. We carry on in this manner. Eventually we face the pressure of putting something before the public. We perform. We end the performance run. We reflect. We theorize some more.  Fight With a Stick’s audience is hybrid. It includes patrons who attend all kinds of theatre, contemporary dance, visual arts, new music, electronic, and electro-acoustic performance, experimental video and film events, and of course partake in all kinds of multi-media and mediatized performances. These are the patrons typically found at festivals like PuSh, FTA, Avignon, and many others. Our show Steppenwolf was featured at PuSh in 2015. While our next show Revolutions was performed in a large warehouse in Vancouver, outside of the festival circuit, the audience composition was much the same. As was clear from the nightly post-show discussions, it included local film makers, art gallery curators, many dance artists, 20  visual artists, theatre artists, and of course patrons of all of these arts (Leaky Heaven Talkbacks: Revolutions). I have attended many such festivals as a patron, journalist, student, and representative of a festival, and seen an amazing variety of work. Every event is scenographic — by which I mean the space has been framed in some way — and often the things in the performance environment have been consciously arranged for aesthetic access. Whether the performance is in a purpose-built venue or is site-specific, the first thing the attendant embodies is the arrangement of things in space — the scenography. It literally contains everything.  1.4 The chapters “Chapter 2: Practice research and methodology” has two parts. In the first part, “Practice research,” I make an argument for a practice-based research that is led by the creative process, and that allows the form of the research to emerge from that process. I argue that this is reflective of practice, and that it provides insights that are different from more traditional approaches to undertaking a dissertation. Practice research can also have a strong reading-writing component and, I argue, should be rigorous and self-critical. The rigour can take many forms, and assessment of the critical standards of practice-research should be made on a case-by-case basis. I counter recent arguments made by performance theorist Ben Spatz who agitates for a technique-based practice research, in which technique, as he defines it, creates transmissible knowledge outcomes from body to body. He argues that, between embodied practice and documentary sources, there is a reliable “archive” of technique and knowledge, one that endures even over millennia. I counter, with reference to embodied practices in theatre and post-structuralist critiques of archival stability, that reliability of knowledge, embodied or archival, to the extent that Spatz requires, is illusory. I find Spatz’s desire to create a critical standard for 21  practice research, based on his own technique-as-embodied-transmission model, overly abstracts technique from the performance as a whole, and conflates diverse practices that have little to do with one another. Yoga and martial arts, for example, are made contiguous, as training techniques, with theatre practice. While it is true that theatre artists incorporate such techniques into their training methods, they do so for reasons that usually have little to do with the intent of non-theatre practices. As well, the training methods of theatre are normally intended to assist actors to create theatre performances. Yogis and martial artists do not normally apply acting techniques to develop spiritual, athletic, or martial efficacy. This will be discussed further in Chapter 2. Spatz’s model is also so narrow that it closes down avenues for research, rather than opening them up. In connection to the implicit tendencies of Spatz’s work, I also critique what I consider to be the misapplication of scientific method to arts-based research, troubling the subjective-objective binary that is assumed in the scientific method. In the second part of the chapter, “Methodology,” I describe in narrative form the process that resulted in both the written part of the dissertation, this document, and the practice part, three mainstage productions: To Wear a Heart so White, Steppenwolf, and Revolutions. I have chosen a narrative style for this because I feel it best reflects the manner in which research questions were formed and pursued, both in the reading-writing process and in the performance creation process. In both parts of the chapter I discuss collaborative, inter- and trans-disciplinary thinking as a key methodology in forming questions and pursuing research, theoretical and practical. This research project has been one of working across disciplines. In the most obvious sense this has meant combining the insights of embodied cognition theories with scenographic practice. It has also meant working with a number of collaborators from various disciplines who also prize transdisciplinary devising.  22  In “Chapter 3: Theoretical frameworks — perception and cognition,” I summarize key theoretical ideas regarding perception that have informed my research. These include concepts from neuroscience and embodied cognition such as neural maps — visual, auditory, and multisensory — and neural patterning, reuse, and interference. I try to explain, in brief, how these might be applied to an attendant’s embodied perception of a scenographic design. Cognitive theories related to neuroscientific discoveries, such as metaphor theory and conceptual blending, both of which figure prominently in this dissertation, are discussed. Metaphor theory describes how we make sense of metaphors based on past knowledge of spatial relationships; language is thus an embodied perceptual experience. Conceptual blending offers a schematic model for how we combine different concepts to create novel thought; it is a useful tool for explaining the actual-fictive theatre binary. Sensorimotor perception of spatial affordances is summarized from a number of angles that are relevant, including James J. Gibson’s theory of visual perception and Alva Noë’s theory of perceptual presence; each of these has implications for understanding an attendant’s sensorimotor engagement of a performance environment. Simulation theory is another way of discussing neural map theory; the subject simulates, on an neuromuscular level, that which she encounters, creating analogic neural patterns that have the structure of the encounter; simulation seems to be based on sensorimotor, or visuomotor perception. Finally, I introduce my concept of the map of unknowing. If cognition is about knowing how do we explain states of unknowing, especially prolonged states? How do we explain what both neural interference theory and performance theories of oscillation describe as an unsettled, in-between state? The map of unknowing becomes a critical concern as the dissertation reaches its conclusion. 23  In “Chapter 4: Making sense of sound in Leaky Heaven Theatre’s To Wear a Heart so White — neural Maps, ear anatomy, memory, neural reuse,” I discuss aural attention as a whole-body perceptual action. I describe the scenography, with special emphasis on Nancy Tam’s sound design. The design, specifically as it pertains to the opening sequence of To Wear a Heart so White, attempts to destabilize the attendant’s sense of spatial surety or emplacement. I try to explain how an attendant engages with this intent, with support from the science of sound propagation as it is “mechanically” produced in the environment, ear anatomy, the biology of neural processing, and theories of embodied engagement. There are two related types of neural patterning discussed: visual and auditory. Each is a structure that, to a certain extent, has the shape of an experience, visual-spatial or auditory-spatial. These patterns form “coalitions” with other sensory modalities to create the gestalt of an experience. Such neural maps structure memory. We use memory — instantiated neural maps — to make sense of what we see, hear, touch, smell, or taste in the present. Memory is never static. Neural maps are updated with each fresh experience. Memories therefore change with each activation/remembrance. That memories/neural patterns can change speaks to the concept of neural plasticity. Neural plasticity is discussed in terms of neural “reuse,” the theory that neurons not only change the manner in which they connect to other neurons, but can also change function depending on the task at hand. Thus neural activation arises out of moment-to-moment direct and dynamic relationship between self and environment. Embodiment of auditory spatial design arises from active sensorimotor engagement with phenomena. 24  In “Chapter 5: The perspective stage and sensorimotor schemas in Steppenwolf,” I introduce James J. Gibson’s “ecological”10 theory of visual perception, go into the details of sensorimotor access, and begin to develop the notion of the neural map of unknowing, an attempt to describe a state of perception that is between cognition and non-cognition (between feeling sure about what you are experiencing and not being sure but remaining in a state of openness). The Pacing scene from Steppenwolf was constructed to disrupt cognition. It exploits the attendant’s natural ability to form neural patterns by simultaneously encouraging and disrupting their formation. This is done by confusing the attendant’s perception of two- and three-dimensional surfaces with the use of mirrors, video projection, lighting, and sound, and by conflating digital images with actual objects. By “two- and three-dimensional surfaces” I mean the artists’ arrangement in space of surfaces/things such as curtains, people, flats, etc. These surfaces literally provide obstacles and pathways that are perceived by the attendant as affordances for movement and touch. The composition of the Pacing scene, however, induces doubt as to whether there are actual pathways or whether what the attendant sees is a video projected onto a surface. I attempt to describe the embodied perceptual state that might occur for                                                 10 The term, “ecological,” as used by Gibson and ecological psychologists, is not to be confused with the ecology and environmental movements of the last half century. Ecological psychology puts an emphasis on examining human behaviour and perception in situ —the human animal in its everyday surroundings — as opposed to in a laboratory. Thus Gibson’s theory of human visual perception is a holistic approach: what we call seeing, for example, is a total body experience of a person moving through an environment, and not just a matter of the physics of optics (photons stimulating receptors and triggering chemical reactions in the brain). See Chemero and Gibson. 25  the attendant by using concepts borrowed from cultural theorist/political philosopher/interdisciplinary artist, Erin Manning, and social theorist/philosopher Brian Massumi, specifically their discussion of neurodiverse and neurotypical perception. The chapter sources the Italianate perspectival stage as an enduring spatial configuration, one that is exploited by Fight With a Stick in Steppenwolf. Theatre historian David Wiles connects this configuration to its roots in neo-platonic thought and traces its development from the 16th to the late 20th centuries. I show how Steppenwolf relies on and intensifies the audience’s familiarity with this spatial pattern. I then use Lakoff and Johnson’s metaphor theory to further explain how the attendant embodies the perspectival stage as a container schema. Spatial depth comes to be equated with depth of meaning, with the perspectival vanishing point — the deepest part of the container — taking on sensorimotor and conceptual significance. I describe how the larger movement patterns of the show contribute to how the attendant attributes significance to the visual revelation that occurs at the vanishing point. I also source cultural theorist Laura Marks’ discussion of “optic” and “haptic” visuality to show how both of these modes of seeing — the first providing an object-oriented clarity of vision, the second a textural perception that encourages lingering in uncertainty — assist the artists in developing a spatial progression from the materialistic world of the forestage to increasingly metaphysical world of the inner stage.  Conceptual blending is the key theoretical concept used to examine the Carnival scene in “Chapter 6: Conceptual Blending in the Carnival scene from Steppenwolf — integration, oscillation, and imagination.” Linguists/cognitive scientists Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner’s theory offers a diagrammatic model that schematizes the way we use prior knowledge — sometimes metaphorical (and therefore based on sensorimotor understanding of spatial relationships), sometimes conceptual, sometimes referencing cultural frameworks — from 26  different domains of experience and blends them to create new knowledge. With reference to both neural map theory, conceptual blending is used to explain how, in the Carnival scene, we exploited the attendant’s ability to blend her prior understanding of walls, frames, and windows, with a stage construction behind, and, in the mirror, before her that offers only the suggestion of a wall, frame, and window. The blending required of the attendant makes her a fully active participant in the success or failure of the Carnival scene. She must blend window with coat rack, wall with partial wall, and aperture with no-aperture in order to construct the novel blend “I am looking through a window at a Fancy Dress Ball.” She must be able to believe in this blend while not believing in it. In order to do this she must access past sensorimotor knowledge while engaging directly with current material affordances. As with the other case studies, the application of conceptual blending offers a new twist on the traditional theatre dialectic of actual-fictive. Conceptual blending offers a clear model for illustrating how the dialectic works “in the blend” (the novel understanding) without losing touch with the “inputs” that were combined to create the blend. The attendant understands the unity of the blend while also maintaining her understanding of the component parts. Theories of neural reuse are further detailed here to explain how successful, partially successful, and unsuccessful blends are partly the result of the same brain region being used for two tasks at the same time, thus causing interferences and oscillations. The Carnival scene exploits these interferences and oscillations to create its particular perceptual game.  In “Chapter 7: Affordances, the disruption of pattern completion, and maps of unknowing in Socìetas Rafaello Sanzio’s P.#06 Paris” I take the position of attendant at another artist’s performance. I have selected a work by director Romeo Castellucci due to the influence he has had on my understanding of what theatre is and how scenography works. For me, Castellucci’s 27  work represents a confluence of many historical precedents in theatre and other artistic disciplines. Socìetas Rafaello Sanzio’s work can be seen on the one hand as an example of Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk (total art work), in which a number of disciplines are brought together to create aesthetic unity. On the other hand it disrupts the illusionistic tendencies of Gesamtkunstwerk, throwing the patron’s attention back on herself. Certain techniques of Castellucci’s can be traced back to French symbolist theatre, others to Oskar Schlemmer’s Bauhaus stage. There may also be a debt to Gertrude Stein’s concept of the “landscape” performance (a performance in which the scenography allows for a meandering focus or for a focus that goes beyond a central visuality), possibly filtered through the landscape performances of Robert Wilson. The influence of various visual arts practices is also critical, and these include medieval, renaissance, and post-renaissance painting, contemporary installation and performance art, and more. The company’s theoretical and historical interests are vast and deep and have been generative in the creation of their performances, including the eleven-show cycle Tragedia Endogonidia, of which P.#06 Paris is a part. Tragedia Endogonidia attempts to get at the pre-classical origins of Hellenic tragedy through sound, image, the construction of a new alphabet, a blending of performance genres, iconic symbolism, and much more. The eleven shows of the cycle offer many different avenues for scenographic encounter. For the purpose of this dissertation I narrow my focus to just one image of P.#06 Paris.  My first encounter with Castellucci’s work was revelatory. Everything shifted for me. Although the work I make is very different from his, and although I do not possess anything near the depth of practice he has acquired over three decades, each performance of his that I see is instructive. He has spurred me on to learn more about lighting, sound design, fabrics, colour theory, architecture, installation and performance art. Indirectly he has set me on this quest to 28  understand the embodied nature of “spectatorship.” To be fair, I had already been investigating this through my work in documentary theatre, specifically a work I developed and directed in collaboration with Urban Crawl Theatre’s Artistic Director Caleb Johnston, The Philippine Women Center of BC, and the Department of Geography at UBC. For my Masters degree I used our show Nanay: A Testimonial Play (which, since 2009, we have directed in Vancouver, Berlin, and Manila, as well as a staged reading at the University of Edinburgh) to theorize the “embodied document” along the lines of a dialectic I call actual-documentive (Ferguson “Productive Tensions” 15-20). But Castellucci presented me with atypical bodies that made me want to investigate further, and ultimately with nonhuman bodies, including animals, robots, objects, and astonishing set-pieces that I felt required a new accounting of embodiment. In other words, my older interest in actor, script, and movement shifted to an interest in the whole performance design. In making the shift of consciousness to scenography, I had to deal with my ignorance of so many parts of what makes theatre what it is — the various integral disciplines, technologies, and media — and to look at how each of these can be generative and suggest meaning in and of themselves or in collaboration with other elements, as well as in ways that resist making these elements subservient to text-based authorial control. Castellucci’s work does this for me. He brings awareness of the performance design to the foreground. In the chapter I use concepts that have been developed in earlier sections to examine a section of P.#06 Paris — sensorimotor access (including more from Noë on perceptual presence), Gibson’s theory of affordances (but with new detail on enclosures), and neural mapping. In describing the workings of the performance design on the attendant/myself, I arrive again at the concept of the map of unknowing. I describe the way Castellucci creates a particular type of defamiliarization through the use of animals and children on stage. In this particular case 29  the animal is made doubly strange by allowing only the back end of it to be seen. I return to a discussion of two- and three-dimensionality, but this time in regard to Castellucci’s techniques of putting pictorial representation, including actual paintings, against a three-dimensional stage volume. I again use Manning and Massumi’s theorizing of neurodiverse embodiment, but also turn to philosopher Emmanuel Levinas’ idea of the “trauma of astonishment” for further insight into what might happen for the attendant when she is in a state of unknowing during performance. In Levinas the encounter with the other displaces one’s subjectivity, leaving one in a state of enduring openness.  At the end of each chapter I offer a list of dramaturgical questions, based on the case, studies that I hope will be useful to artists and scholars. For convenience of reference, these are also collected in the appendix. 30  Chapter 2: Practice research and methodology  2.1 Practice research  Practice research, also known as Practice-as-Research (PaR), studio-led research, arts-based research, and by other names, is a new(ish) type of academic research in the humanities. In the arts it usually means that creating an artwork or undertaking an artistic practice such as acting or dance training constitutes a large part of the research. The proportion of making (i.e. creating an artwork) to observing (i.e. reading and writing about art works) varies from study to study. This is very similar, if not identical, to what happens in an MFA theatre program. For example, a student director’s production of a play may be the core of the research but will usually include a large writing component. This is why I say practice research is a new(ish) type of research. It has such precedents.  The concept of practice research, often considered a type of research that embraces subjective, tacit, embodied experience as knowledge, is perhaps newer with respect to older degree streams. It is fully accepted in some university departments but contested in others. Issues of contention include the establishment of standards of rigour and methodological criteria. Deeply connected to these issues is the worry among some academics and academies that embodied research is overly subjective and lacks objective criticality. These issues will be discussed in detail below. I will attempt to justify practice research generally, and my particular version of it specifically. Ben Spatz, author of What a Body Can Do, both a defender and critic of practice research, will figure as a kind of adversary. In fact he borders on becoming my own bête noir. This is because I disagree with almost every aspect of Spatz’s argument, including the advocacy for his own version of practice research — which he posits as a new of standard rigour 31  in the field — his very generalized critique of practice research as it exists in its multiple forms, and his misunderstanding of what cognitive neuroscience brings to the field of embodied cognition. Spatz’s critique represents a summation of arguments he has been making for some time. It is up-to-date in this respect, and yet seems to me a misguided attempt to introduce what I consider to be the wrong kind of rigour to practice research.  The proportion of making to reading-writing in this dissertation is perhaps an even split between reading and writing about embodied cognition, scenography, and other related topics, and making performances, specifically three major main stage productions, To Wear a Heart so White, Steppenwolf, and Revolutions. Because most of the case studies are of performances I myself have made, in collaboration with other artists, I have been asked to justify my methodology, defend practice research, and contextualize this dissertation within the context of practice research debates. I have attempted to do so in the following sections. I begin with debates regarding practice research and end with a description of my own methodology. I have presented the latter description in narrative form because I feel this best reflects the manner in which the study was undertaken — a journey through several stages of discovery by reading texts, and several through creating performances. Note: I have used several terms interchangeably. Practice-as-Research has been in currency in recent years, as has studio-led or arts-based research, and I employ all of these. My usual preference, however, has been for the older term practice research as described by Frayling in 1993, which can be summarized as: working with certain materials that might be used in the making of an artwork and reporting on the process (5). This comes close to describing my dissertation. In addition to working with materials and reporting on that work, there is also the major component of reading about theories of embodied cognition and reporting on the readings. 32   2.1.1 Rigour and standards Since the early 1990s (see my discussion of Frayling below), the case for practice research in the arts, a type of study in which making art is part of the research, has been promoted or critiqued for various reasons. Much of the discussion has been focused on whether practice-based research is as rigorous as some of the older models it has been compared with, both in terms of methodological criteria and knowledge outcomes. Proponents argue that hands-on “embodied” research is necessary to provide insights that cannot be achieved through traditional “field study” approaches in which an investigator attempts to remain outside, or critically distant from, what he is studying. Critics counter, as Spatz does (discussed at length below), that practice alone does not constitute research: it has to be carefully balanced with objective11 rigour achieved through what, for example, Spatz considers reliable transmission of embodied technique (a newer concept in practice research) (Spatz 16-18), as well as with traditional archival work. I agree that practice alone — for example, creating a theatre performance — is not sufficient to meet requirements of                                                 11	To be fair to Spatz, while arguing for objective rigour he qualifies his demand at several times. For example on page 61 he writes: “Embodied technique is objective in that it can only be developed of the field of what is materially possible for bodies to do; it is relative in that this field is infinitely complex (fractal) , and so admits of an infinite number of possible discoveries (Spatz). This part of his argument makes perfect sense to me. But in his conclusion, where he sets out something of a program, he writes: research “methodology is clear and outcomes are transmissible” (242). In this chapter I argue that research can be valid without achieving bodily transmission of technique, and that in fact such outcomes are unlikely. 33  academic rigour. I find it reasonable for an academic institution to demand critical self-reflection and careful framing of a research process, although that framing can be “emergent” — as in emerging from the process of investigation rather than established a priori (I will return to this below). It is reasonable to conclude that if a researcher is not willing to attempt both theoretical and practical rigour when undertaking a study, the academic institution may not the right place for him. However, speaking for myself as an artist-scholar who has undertaken both studio-led and document-led research, has been an observer of studio-led research and an external examiner of such projects,12 I find many of the charges made against practice research amount to generalities that ignore the heterogeneity of the field and, in doing so, seem willfully blind to the varieties of rigour proposed.13 It is always possible to find studies that fail to achieve sufficient                                                 12 I was recently external examiner for two MFA thesis defenses in the School for Contemporary arts at Simon Fraser University, once in 2015 and once in 2016. 13	An example of Spatz’s generalizing that is pertinent to this dissertation is his misunderstanding of the variety of approaches to embodied cognition that neuroscience offers. He names some of the same researchers I have sourced, such as George Lakoff, Mark Johnson, Antonio Damasio, and Bruce McConachie (Spatz 24). In an endnote he argues that cognitive studies “attempts to offer closure to the problematic on ‘the problematic of realism’” (Pickering qtd. 67) and that it “emphasizes similarity — between individuals and between cultures — over difference” (67). This is a misunderstanding of the claims of cognitive neuroscience as expressed by the authors mentioned above. Difference is not erased. In fact each individual’s embodied understanding of the world is unique to them and is utterly dependent on their personal history and cultural context. Neural patterning — activating personal neural patterns/memories — is idiosyncratic and culturally specific. As is argued in this dissertation, meaning 34  rigour, and some in which the investigator resorts to statements such as “practice is its own justification” or “art is too ephemeral to meaningfully document.” But if we look at the best examples rather than the worst, we may find there is both sufficient critical thinking and rigourous application of method.  The criticism that practice research, in general, lacks rigour is not reflective of studies I have personally witnessed or read about. It is reasonable to compare new research methods to established standards in order to re-assess both the old and the new. It is also important to ask if practice research offers kinds of rigour that an academy, due to certain entrenched biases, is unable to recognize. I will try to show, when discussing this point below, that Spatz’s proposed standards to improve what he perceives as lack of rigour do not and cannot meet his own criteria, relying as he does on a belief in the stability of documentary, archeological, and embodied “archives.” Such notions of stability have been shown by structuralist and poststructuralist scholars across the humanities in the past half-century or so, as well as some theorists from the sciences, to be anything but stable. In questioning the stability of these archives I also try to undermine the validity of the subjective-objective binary, arguing that objectivity is simply subjectivity at a distance. I take issue with Spatz in particular because his critique is very recent and, unlike most proponents of embodied research (Spatz is both proponent and critic), he attempts to establish a standard.                                                                                                                                                         making is a very personal thing. I do not delve into greater cultural context here because that is beyond the scope of this study.  	 	35  2.1.2 New knowledge vs. trans-disciplinary thinking Studio-led research, to use the term Estelle Barrett and Barbara Bolt favor in their anthology, Practice as Research: Context, Method, Knowledge, is a heterogeneous field (Barrett 248). Attempts to reduce this heterogeneity, to standardize and narrowly define practice research, will limit rather than expand knowledge in the academy. To be honest, I find the very idea that a study must produce “concrete,” “transmissible” knowledge, as Spatz puts it (Spatz 16-18), very problematic. This end-game approach fails to reflect how artists create and learn from each other. “New knowledge” and “knowledge outcomes,” as conceived of by critics and even some advocates of practice-led research, are misleading terms, promising more than can be delivered and avoiding the real richness of practice research, which is often not very concrete and which, I believe, is to be found in the artist’s and scholar’s attitude toward a process and in interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary thinking and doing, rather than in transmissible outcomes (I will discuss what I specifically mean by these terms below). There are outcomes, but they are often not easily definable or transmissible, are often unpredictable, and generally not “repeatable” in the way Spatz believes they should be.  “Embodied technique” he writes, “refers to transmissible and repeatable knowledge of relatively reliable possibilities afforded by human embodiment” (16). “Relatively reliable” is a problematic adjective that I will try to unpack for its internal inconsistencies later. It should be noted that Spatz makes a distinction between “practice” and “technique,” conferring the rank of transmissibility to the latter, not the former. His distinction, however, depends, as I have already said, on assuming greater stability to the transmission of embodied technique, over great distances and very long time periods, than is provable or likely. In his analysis of the success or failure of transmissibility during a particular type of yoga training, for example, learning is 36  reduced to acquiring specific postural technique (88). He finds himself dependent on the classes, unable to zero in on repeatable technique. For this reason he feels the classes ultimately fail. There are, of course, other ways of thinking of yoga beyond the specificity of replicating a posture. Many yoga teachers (I live with a certified yoga instructor who teaches classes at a studio several times a week) argue that the postures do not need to be interpreted so rigidly and that this type of replication can be detrimental to developing one’s practice (in other words these teachers consider the more global notion of practice more important than technique). The difference between practice and technique gets blurry.  Ultimately Spatz’s fixation on repeatable technique blinds him to the greater practice. As an actor who has trained in a variety of acting methods, I find Spatz’s distinction between practice and technique arbitrary. The two can be separated only if one goes to absurd lengths to abstract the one from the other, as Spatz does. I am not sure there is much value in doing so. Abstracting the part from the whole is temporarily useful, but one has to remember that it is part of a whole. I can examine a specific part of a scenographic composition, but if I lose sight of the overall design, I may no longer have a composition. It is important to know that a neural cluster is made up of individual neurons, a neuron being a cell with a nucleus, an axon, a myelin sheath, axon terminals, and so on, but if I lose sight of its connection to brain, body, and environment, I may develop a very mechanistic view of how humans behave. Spatz, I feel, in fixating on technique, loses sight of performance, or at least of professional theatre performance. In fact he argues that the division between everyday lived experience/performance and the kind of performance undertaken by trained actors is a somewhat artificial construct. Practices as varied as martial arts, yoga, and actor training are considered equally: “My examples are drawn from three major areas: physical culture, performing arts, and everyday life. Together these are part of 37  a larger domain, embodied practice” (Spatz 1; italics original). While arguing against universalizing knowledge practices, he argues for a contiguity among extremely varied physical “techniques,” hoping to zero in on that which he believes is extractable and repeatable. In conflating diverse practices — “The technique of dance, acting, martial arts, yoga, and even everyday life will here be understood as a contiguous field of substantive answers to this question [What can a body do?]” — he exaggerates similarities and distorts the contextual intent of different practices. A yoga class is not the same as acting training or a theatre production. Further to this, he risks de-professionalizing theatre art, as Melrose points out: Widespread uses of the term ‘the body’ are problematic in the context of performance-making … The use of the term ‘the body’ is a nonsense (sic)… because use of that term in such contexts tends to objectivise, to generalise, essentialise, anonymise, and deprofessionalise the input of expert performers … [and] what those who use the term ‘the body’ in the context of performing arts are actually dealing with is neither ‘the body’, nor ‘a body’, but rather ‘some body observed.’ (Melrose qtd. in Fennemore 33) In other words, for Spatz’s analysis to work the embodied technique of actor training must be divorced from the context in which such training occurs and for which the training is intended. Throughout this dissertation I argue for the “ecological” approach that is advocated by Gibson and others. The human animal must be studied in its “natural” context in order to understand it. Natural context for an actor means a training environment that is also developing within the greater context of desiring, and probably achieving, a public performance. Not for Spatz. He goes so far as to argue that theatre does not need an audience. “What if some of the most effective political theatre unfolds,” he writes, “like yoga classes, away from the public eye?” (Spatz 7). I have a very broad mind when it comes to thinking of just about anything as 38  performance, and even as theatre. But I think Spatz is stretching his argument thin here. If “theatre” still means “viewing place,” and if this implies an audience, then a yoga class, while it may be a performance, is not really theatre. And this is the objection I have to Spatz’s conflation of different lived techniques/practices. On the one hand, in his book he tries to look at technique in the context of personal stories; on the other he cuts right through the contextual differences in these stories by insisting on the common denominator of techniques that are extractable, repeatable, and transmissible. It is upon such abstract logic, and I mean abstract in the literal sense, that he builds his argument for academic standards of rigour in PaR. Finally, interdisciplinary, an important term I have used above, is worth turning over in detail. I feel interdisciplinarity, as an approach to creating that artists such as my colleagues and I assume, has been misunderstood, poorly applied, and somewhat instrumentalized, not only by Spatz (despite his claims to the contrary), but by those who would attempt to break it down into a cause-and-effect chain that will produce knowledge outcomes. Interdisciplinarity in my view is not just a matter of moving “from one discipline towards another,” and putting two or more “discrete” disciplines next to each other, as Spatz argues — a matter of the coming together of two collaborators each with depth of knowledge in their respective areas. Rather it is a matter of thinking fluidly across disciplines in a dialogic, polyvocal, poly-disciplinary manner. Depth of knowledge in a discrete discipline is very useful. Breadth is even more important. Over the years, as a devising artist working in collaboration with creators from other disciplines, most of whom are also scholars and teachers in post-secondary institutions, it this skill — breadth of thought — that has served me best. The term transdisciplinary perhaps describes the breadth approach more accurately than interdisciplinary, the prefix meaning to cross boundaries or to go beyond 39  boundaries. In other words, to be in dialogue with boundaries while making them less important. This too will be discussed in more detail below.  2.1.3 The delusion of objectivity Connected to the issue of rigour is the problem of traditional Enlightenment thinking around the objective-subjective binary. The argument is that a perceptual mode we call objective distance offers truer insights than a perceptual mode we call subjective. Objectivity and subjectivity are, in terms of neuroscience and theories of embodied cognition, false opposites — “mind” is neural activity and neural activity is embodied. The concept of objectivity relies on a Cartesian dualism in which mind is divorced from body and can achieve god-like intellectual clarity. It does so by somehow transcending flesh-and-bone casing and getting free of the distorting influences of the senses (Ladron de Guevara 21-23). “Embodied-mind” theory, on the other hand, argues that mind is body and that out-of-body cognition is unavailable to us. We always engage with our surroundings as “bodyminds” (Lakoff and Johnson Philosophy 3). There is no other way. It is possible, however, to describe objectivity and subjectivity in terms of physical distance and closeness — the proximity of a body (a researcher) to what he studies. Different degrees of proximity can yield different types of truths. There is no hierarchy of truth with distance at the top and immersion at the bottom. Both distance from and immersion in can be useful in practice-led research. I will discuss this further below.   2.1.4 Instrumentalizing practice research  In 2007 Barrett wrote, in defense of practice research, “practice-led research is a new species of research, generative enquiry that draws on subjective, interdisciplinary and emergent 40  methodologies that have the potential to extend the frontiers of research” (15). Practice research was not quite as new in 2007 as Barrett suggests. Christopher Frayling, in a 1993 paper entitled Research in Art and Design, proposed three models, adapted from the art historian Herbert Read:  1. Research into art and design (historical, aesthetic, theoretical).  2. Research through art and design (working with certain materials that might be used in the making of an artwork and reporting on the process).  3. Research for art and design (in which “thinking is . . . embodied in the artifact”). (5; all italics original) PaR projects tend to blend all three of these with varying degrees of emphasis. The first two — research into and through art — have long been established, albeit often in departments separated from the mainstream of the academy or in specialized art colleges (4-5). It is the third one, research for art in which “thinking is . . . embodied in the artefact,” that raises questions of rigour and objectivity. For Frayling, research for the making of art is a “thorny” issue because the goal is not “primarily communicable knowledge in the sense of verbal communication” but “visual or iconic or imagistic communication” (5). If I adapt Frayling to scenography I might call the goal spatial and sensory communication. Actually, on further reflection, the second category, “research through art,” due to its inclusion of reporting on a process in the form of a “diary” (5), can also be thorny, particularly when the process reported on is as fluid and has as many moving parts as a theatre devising process. Frayling writes, “it seems to me we have a fascinating dilemma on our hands. As much about autobiography and personal development as communicable knowledge.” The implication is that the “personal development” side is harder to deal with from an institutional point of view (although fields like autobiography theory are now well established): is there rigour, and according to what criteria? And then there is the 41  “communicable knowledge” part, a concept that seems to have morphed over the years into the more demanding justification of demonstrating “new knowledge outcomes.”   2.1.5 New knowledge and the market paradigm Both of these issues instrumentalize research through the “knowledge economy” paradigm, in which research has value as a quasi-quantity that can be traded for. In this exchange, the funding agency — the state or private foundation — contributes a fixed sum of money through scholarship or subsidy. In return the researcher produces a quantity of “new knowledge.” The funder then rewards the taxpayer or shareholder with the new knowledge bought. It is best if the new knowledge is quantifiable or concrete in some way. A new medicine is superior in this regard to new philosophical speculations about the human condition, or a theatre department’s judgment as to whether a student has improved as an actor or designer. The consequence of this ideology is more money for demonstrable technological innovations in theatre and less money for innovative thinking regarding, for example, actor training or performer-attendant spatial configurations. For reasons that have to with such logic — “the logic of economic exchange” (Barrett 20), a neoliberal economic ideology based on notions of efficiency and open markets — studies in the humanities have been shoehorned into a neo-industrialist model of production: make a better steam engine so we can have a faster train; make a better micro-chip so we can have better processing speed. In countering this logic, Barrett seeks “appropriate discourses to convince assessors and policy makers that within the context of studio-based research, innovation is derived from methods that cannot always be predetermined, and ‘outcomes’ of artistic research are necessarily unpredictable” (19).  42  As an instructor of several classes in performance, some history and theory based, some studio based, I am required by the institutions I work for to list the learning outcomes of each course. These can be quite extensive. My colleagues and I know these lists are unrealistic and reductive. We know that most learning outcomes are unpredictable. If, by learning outcomes, we mean that a student can name dates and performance genres then, yes, some kind of list is reasonable. But if university learning in the humanities is meant to develop critical, ethical, and philosophical thinking, then the lists become meaningless. In a typical course, I offer a program of work — the students tell me what it means to them. Every year I am delighted by the surprising discoveries the students make and the unexpected insights they offer. I am surprised that a student who comes in majoring in musical theatre goes on to postgraduate studies in animation, or that the student who specializes in contemporary dance goes on to a visual arts college. It can be argued that to specify a learning outcome is to preclude learning.  2.1.6 Misapplication of the scientific method Hand in hand with the positivist economic model goes the paradigm of the scientific method. The criteria of producing “new knowledge” and concrete “knowledge outcomes” are based in part on a scientific research model that presupposes a lack of bias on the part of the researcher, and that measurable knowledge can be produced. It presupposes that questions asked of a lab experiment can be arrived at by the scientist through Cartesian disengagement. In such experiments the hypothesis presupposes the outcome. A lab experiment is undertaken to prove the hypothesis. As cognitive theorist Anthony Chemero puts it, “we always are bringing a lot of theoretical baggage into the lab with us” (Campbell “Episode 123” 26).  43  The transference of scientific method to the arts is an awkward one, in which the artist-scholar pretends the following: If I put thing X into box Y, I will get result Z; I will then show Z to my fellow artist-scholars and they will be able to replicate my findings. Never mind that there is no control group to make the findings falsifiable; in other words, if I undertake to create a show called Steppenwolf with an interdisciplinary group of collaborators, there should be a very similar group of collaborators attempting the same show with the same materials in the same kind of space at the same time in order to compare and contrast the results (this would be the control group), and therefore corroborating or disproving my findings.14 Extending this logic to the audience reception side, the two shows would also have to have very similar audiences that would also, despite the dizzying array of responses spectators of the same audience have toward a performance (Leaky Heaven, Steppenwolf Talkback; Revolutions Talkback), corroborate or disprove my research questions and conclusions. Finally, any claim I make regarding attendant response should be testable. Through a process of falsifiability — for example a remount or parallel showing of the performance in which it is discovered by other researchers that attendants did not have the response I claimed in my experiment/production — my hypothesis can be disproved.  Applying the scientific method to a research project about embodied cognition of interdisciplinary collaborative performance design seems misplaced. My investigation is very open ended. It looks to neuroscience for models, metaphors, and stories that might describe embodied cognition, but is not a scientific investigation, not even a social science investigation. It is performance theory that starts with the question, “How can I use the stories of neuroscience                                                 14 As I write this it occurs to me that it would actually be a lot of fun to try. 44  to describe embodied cognition of scenographic environments?” “Researchers,” writes Barrett, “are recognizing that scientific enquiry is just one species of research and that ‘research is not merely a species of social science’” (Eisner qtd. 302). Different types of investigation will reveal different truths. Referencing the theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg, Barrett also notes that, “the knowledge of science is applicable only to limited realms of experience and the scientific method is but a single method for understanding the world” (302). Further, as I argue throughout this and the following section on audience reception data, any method of observation including the scientific method, or methods based on the notion of objective distance, will create truths structured by the method itself: “The notion of scientifically based knowledge as statements of ultimate truth contains an inner contradiction since ‘the employment of this procedure changes and transforms its object’” (Heisenberg qtd. in Barrett 302). And yet the desire to stabilize and quantify, and to seek objective truth, persists among the more exacting critics of practice research. Where Barrett maintains an open attitude as to what might constitute appropriate performance-research, Spatz attempts to create a fairly restrictive standard. Both agree that arts research must avoid being instrumentalized by the ideology of the market, but neither can avoid talking about new knowledge outcomes: Barrett because she attempts to appease the academy by arguing that practice research in all of its heterogeneity is indeed rigorous (but according to its own standards of rigour), and Spatz because he feels he has found a particular key to rigour that others should emulate — “a durable theory of embodied knowledge that can be applied more broadly” (Spatz 18) and that will meet institutional approval.  I mistrust the idea that a research project must create knowledge that should have theoretical durability (in the sense of creating a new standard), and that should also be 45  transmissible and repeatable: “Embodied technique” writes Spatz, “. . . refers to transmissible and repeatable knowledge of relatively reliable possibilities afforded by human embodiment” (16). There are fields of research in which such criteria are entirely appropriate. For example, neuroscientific lab experiments, although even here what is considered a statistically significant result does not always amount to, for example, more than 50% probability that a hypothesis is true (depending on the quality of the hypothesis or the nature of the experiment, “probability” can mean less than 10% “chance of real effect”) or the lab experiment replicable. There are many controversies regarding statistical significance, to the point that standards that have been used for decades have been dismissed by many as misleading (Nuzzo 150-52). For my purposes statistical probability is less important than convincing rhetoric, such as a philosophical theory of neuroscience in which the theorist, through consideration of what neurobiologists and cognitive psychologists suggest, tries to explain what the new findings might mean to us in terms of animal-environment interaction.  2.1.7 Unpredictability, unrepeatability, and generative dialogue While Spatz holds to a newfound model of rigour that attempts to abstract technique from practice, such rigour cannot be achieved without distorting the entangled relationship of technique and practice, and without accepting un-provable embodied and archival lineage of a technique. Furthermore, I have observed during thirty years in theatre and dance that even over relatively short periods of time — months and years — predictability and repeatability are elusive goals. Nor have I found, during any of my postgraduate studies into either documentary theatre, transnational performance festivals, or gentrification of arts-identified neighbourhoods, that adherence to strict epistemological criteria produces the kind of stable new knowledge one 46  hopes for. In fact, the more restrictive the parameters get, the more a study can lead to false knowledge outcomes. Even in conventional theatre performance, repeatability is an illusion. Anyone who has done eight shows a week at a regional theatre knows, for all the research and training that goes into making such shows, and for all the archival precedents that can be drawn on, no two shows are ever the same; every week some shows are poor; audiences vary from show to show altering the quality of a performance; performers, technicians, and crew come to work in different states of bodymind from day to day, altering the quality of the show; weather, time of year, or the current socio-political situation can all change the feel and the meaning of a show.  Variation and unpredictability become that much more pronounced when working with an interdisciplinary devising situation in an unconventional setting. Often artists working in this area embrace unpredictability and are less insistent, or not insistent at all, about what the show they are making means. In four years of working with my current company, we have tried to imagine the outcome of our experiments while always knowing that the outcome, the show, will be radically different from what we imagined. In fact to make the outcome conform to a hypothesis would be to strangle the creative process and shut off possibility. It has been the same for me as a researcher in the academy, even when writing a thesis driven essay. I start with a hunch, which eventually leads to forming a question or several questions, which get modified along the way, which result in a conclusion that I am forced to write, due to the model, but have no faith in. I have no faith in the conclusion because the very research taught me that there are many possible conclusions, multiple conclusions, or that there are none to be had, although the search taught me something — maybe just about the nature of the search. This does not imply a 47  lack of critical thinking. Things are considered deeply. Questions are formed; provisional ones that lead to provisional answers.  When I begin a theatre project with my fellow collaborators, we might start with theoretical questions about the nature of representation in theatre, our geographical and historical “moment” in the city, the ethical nature of what we are attempting, the perceptual apparatus we might be creating, the materials we are working with, and so on. A kernel of thought, an impression, a thing said — any of these might spark a stage of creation; impossible to say which. The rigour is in the attitude we bring. We read theory and history, we talk about the work of our contemporaries, about working across disciplines, and we try things with materials. The show that comes out the other end will not be repeatable in a different venue, or even in the same venue at a future date. Not even the artists who make the show can repeat it. As Wiles points out, the idea that a performance has ontological coherence that can be picked up from one location and deposited at another in fact is false (Wiles 1). In a different place and time the performance becomes something else. Other artists will see the work and it will influence them in unpredictable ways. It will influence my next show in unpredictable ways.  While there are few new knowledge outcomes that can be transmitted or repeated, a dialogue can be had. The dialogue itself is generative. It will spark new thoughts that lead to new performance or research projects. The outcome is dialogue. Dialogue leads to new performances. In this dissertation I present coherent theoretical questions, show how theory applies to practice, and how practice modifies theory. The exchange between theory and practice is fluid. Insights are provided based on this exchange. I argue that the artistic creation, influenced by theory, could plausibly have had certain effects on the attendants. I argue that the effects are plausible because of what neuroscience suggests are the ways in which we bodily engage with what we encounter 48  — in this case a particular performance design. I never argue that all attendants have the experience I suggest they might, or insist on what the experience should mean to them. I offer some responses from attendants (including critics) that describe how each of them engaged with the scenographic aspects of the performance. Put together they represent a variety of experience and generate thinking for future explorations.  2.1.8 Close and far   As a refresher, here is the quote from Barrett again: “Practice-led research is a new species of research, generative enquiry that draws on subjective, interdisciplinary and emergent methodologies that have the potential to extend the frontiers of research.” I would like to unpack it. First: “generative enquiry that draws on subjective” methodologies. Obviously the word subjective is inserted as a response to the concept of objective research. As I wrote above, the first term depends on the idea of being very close to or immersed in a study. The negative implication of this is that the researcher is too close, or that the process of investigation is too personal or biased to achieve the kind of insight only objective research can offer. A further implication is that objective study offers truer insights because the traditional research process gives the researcher not only impersonal distance from a subject, but achieves disembodied insight. As I noted above, according to theories of neuroscience and embodied cognition, disembodied insight is not available to us. In material terms embodied-disembodied is a false binary because mind does not exist outside of body. Mind can be thought of as a bodily process. Of course, in physical terms, there are differences between being close to or far away from something. From the top of a skyscraper you can see traffic patterns, report on them, and present them as distanced “data.” The experience of being in a moving car, on the other hand, is not 49  available to you from the top of a building. From inside a car you can report on sensations of movement, smell, danger, safety, and so on. This is close-up data. The studio-led part of practice research puts the emphasis on being in the car. Being in the car is crucial to understanding what driving is about. The practice researcher lets this immersive experience structure the research. Any theoretical formulation will come first from practice — driving — rather than from an a priori assumption about driving made from a perch at the top of a skyscraper. Distanced data is also valuable. Both being close up and being far away offer subjective insights.  2.1.9 Archive instability In his introduction to Archive: Documents in Contemporary Art, art historian Charles Merrewether argues it is especially “in the spheres of art and cultural production that some of the most searching questions have been asked concerning what constitutes an archive and what authority it holds in relation to its subject” (10). Challenges regarding archival authority play themselves out in a battleground over what Foucault calls “discourse.” To speak of a discourse, in this context, is to examine who defines what can be talked about and how. “For Foucault,” writes Merrewether, “the archive governs what is said or unsaid, recorded or unrecorded . . .  who determines, and what conditions enable, a history to be written depend upon the definition of the archive” (11). Proponents and critics of practice-led research are also engaged in this battle over legitimate academic discourse. In some institutions proponents have, for now, won the battle. I have taught as a sessional over the past few years at SFU’s School for Contemporary Arts and sat as an external examiner on two MFA projects. During an oral defense challenges are raised regarding rigour and critical self-reflection, but the general concept of practice-led research — an artist-researcher studying work she herself has made — is not in question. In the 50  theatre department at UBC, where I am undertaking this study, the issue has not yet been settled (perhaps it should never be settled). Therefore I find myself writing this long justification regarding a dissertation that I believe can best be described as practice research. I find myself engaged in an ideological conflict regarding whether one can be objective enough to write critically about one’s own work. The standard I am being held to is largely defined by a discourse around issues of rigour and the pseudo-scientific method I described above. Intertwined with this are arguments over what constitutes a legitimate archive. It is complicated. Spatz and Barrett both challenge tradition by arguing for embodied knowledge and studio-led research as legitimate types of research. Spatz, in fighting for the legitimacy of embodied technique, then attempts to disqualify types of embodied knowledge that do not conform to his criteria. Restrained scholarly language seems to be a veneer for an intense political fight.  Derrida, the poststructuralist philosopher associated with the term “deconstruction” (a term he was uncomfortable with), embarked on a project to aggressively undermine the stability of written documents and, by extension, the documentary archive. He did this partly through dislodging relationships between signifier and signified, and showing that the relationship between the former and latter is always contingent and changing, and that there is no originary etymological foundation to the terms we use, only the free-play of signifiers (Derrida passim).15                                                 15 The very fact that Spatz attempts to stabilize the meaning of “technique” by tying it to the ancient Greek word techne only points out that the meaning of the word has changed, that it is in fact unstable, and that the signifier-signified relationship of technique to whatever it references today is different from what the word techne referenced twenty-five hundred years ago. Spatz acknowledges that the application of the word has changed, and that older meanings are lost in current usage of “technique” 51  While arguing for the instability of the archive, Derrida acknowledges that whatever is sanctioned as archive — the discourse — becomes an instrument of political power: “There is no political power without control of the archive, if not of memory. Effective democratization can always be measured by this essential criterion: the participation in and the access to the archive, its constitution, and its interpretation” (qtd. in Merrewether 13).  In the twentieth century, photographs became a key part of our historical archive. Photography as archival document is troubled throughout the anthology, Archive: Documents in Contemporary Art. Art historian Benjamin Buchloh describes various photographical, collage, and photomontage projects, in the form of atlases that attempt to capture “collective social memory.” For example, Aby Warburg’s inter-war (WWI and WWII) Mnemosyne Atlas in which the archivist-scholar attempted to collect thousands of clippings, photographs, and other images to draw a history of European art from the past to his present (the 1920s) (Buchloh 87-89). This project and others like it create a selected view of history, a view that is inevitably personal. In choosing what is included, one must also choose what to exclude. This is true of any historical account. Thus photography, as well as any other documentary account, becomes a process of                                                                                                                                                        (27-28), and yet he continues to use etymology as stabilizing archival precedence: “As I have argued, art can only be research if it is understood in terms of craft (Latin: artes; Greek: techne)” (231). Aside from his bald assertion that art must be reduced to craft before it can warrant legitimate study, what I find strange is that while acknowledging the fairly radical difference in meaning over the centuries, and thus providing a clear example of the instability of transmission and archive, he elsewhere (as in the sentence above) insists that embodied technique can be transmitted in a “relatively” stable way over decades, centuries, and millennia. 52  both “enacting and destroying mnemonic experience” (qtd. in Merrewether 13). To put a neuroscientific spin on this, your latest neural formation slightly or radically remakes the previous formation — a memory. Re-membering is perhaps more an act of dis-membering or over-writing. The act of remembering is also one of erasure. Or, in more concrete terms, the publication of a book on, say, the history of acting methods, will be an act of including this and excluding that. This is inevitable due to the historian’s preferences, biases, and how those are circumscribed further by the current archival discourse. All historiography is revisionist. When Spatz suggests that the diachronic archive is “relatively” reliable, again not only over several years but over decades, centuries, and millennia, he renders the word relative meaningless. Relative to what? I think it is more correct to say that archives are relatively unstable. Returning to the issue of practice-research in the academy: can embodied practice be considered a legitimate archive, and should it be? Barrett and her co-editor Bolt make the case for what they call “tacit” knowledge, arising from studio-led practice, as an equal partner with “explicit” knowledge, what we might call knowledge that is explicable through the creation of some kind of documentary resource. In fact they question the division between these two terms: “Tacit [knowledge] refers to embodied knowledge or ‘skill’ developed and applied in practice and apprehended intuitively—a process that is readily understood by artistic researchers who recognise that the opposition between explicit and tacit knowledge is a false one” (Barrett 21). If practice is to be accepted as a legitimate part of our cultural discourse and if it is to produce types of archives, what might these look like? Should they look like traditional archives? If not, should we be calling them archives? If not archives, then what? Do studio-led practices have their own logics and should these logics be accepted as academic research? Critics of PaR raise reasonable complaints about terms like “intuitive” and ephemeral, particularly when these are 53  seemingly used as a way to avoid rigour. At times, however, such terms are hard to avoid. Spatz is unable to avoid them, as in the following example: “The force of their deeply embodied singing transformed the atmosphere . . .” (Spatz 5). Is there rigour in such a statement? By “force” does he mean air pressure, sonic wave, volume, pitch, timbre, or something else? By “transformed the atmosphere” is he talking about molecular change to the droplets in the air or just a feeling he had? Is this rigour? The fact is it just is not possible to break everything down into analyzable techniques that fit tidily into the logics of the scientific model or the market paradigm. Csikszentmihalyi and Robinson, in the preface to a study on the aesthetic experience write, “Methods, representative of the postivistic epistemology of recent years, would attempt to break down . . . experience into its component parts and identify lower-order mechanisms implicated in its occurrence, in order to predict and control . . . behavior” (Csikszentmihalyi and Robinson xiv). Barrett adds, “This notion of intuitive knowledge is closely related to what Bourdieu has theorised as the logic of practice . . . where strategies are not pre-determined, but emerge and operate according to specific demands of action and movement in time” (Barrett 18).  Spatz’s argument for greater academic rigour in practice research makes the very demands Bourdieu cautions against. For example he writes, “A live event, cannot constitute a research outcome, because it is bounded in time and space” (232). By this, Spatz means, that “real” research is conducted through the diachronic archive — documents and digital media collected over time and accessible to the researcher through conventional means, as well as the less “concrete” archive of embodied transmission of technique. I find these “archives” useful but, as I will argue later, not because of their supposed historical veracity, rather because an archive can generate thinking and doing. An archive can be fictional. As long as it is compelling, it can be useful. Spatz’s argument that events bounded by time and space cannot be considered research is 54  bizarre. First of all because the live event, the thing being studied cannot, according to his logic (“bounded by time and space”), be a legitimate part of research — only the archive can (although he argues otherwise; but see my next point). Second, because it would disqualify everything — all events are bounded by time and space. The writing of this dissertation is bounded by time and space. It has limited duration. As digital media it has even less durability than paper – the software that runs the word processing program will become obsolete, the plastics that preserve and transmit the words will decompose or become inaccessible in the absence of an energy source, and so on. Not to mention that the context in which I am writing these words is situated in time and place. The context (yesterday it was my office, today it is a café) provides both meaning and form. Meaning and form change depending on context. The situation in which the reader engages with these words will be different from the one the words were written in, and reader’s new context will contribute to how he attributes meaning to the words. Eventually an oral defense will be made, changing context and meaning again. What David Wiles observed was true for performances created in a site-specific location and subsequently moved to the studio is also true of the archive — the thing changes. Ontological stability is an illusion. Neural embodied cognition, with its constant updating of memory/neural patterns, also makes this argument.  While ephemerality means both “bounded in space and time,” in the sense that whatever is ephemeral is impermanent, and while performances are in this sense “ephemeral,” they are also made up of materials such as sets, clothing, costumes, people, lighting instruments, and so on. These constitute an “archive” of sorts, one that has as much a claim to transmissibility as, and perhaps has more stability than, the body-to-body transmission Spatz argues for. But how much stability does any of this have? The same materials can be put in another location, even an almost 55  identical location. They can be moved from one black box to another of the same dimensions and aesthetic design and achieve different results. I am reminded of a 1997 production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile, by Steve Martin, in which I played Picasso. It opened at The Grand in London, Ontario, where it was received ecstatically, and closed at the Vancouver Playhouse where it was deemed a failure. There are of course countless examples like this I could point to. Documents such as dissertations are also made up of materials: plastic keyboards, LCD screens, human writers and readers, rooms where reading and writing take place, printers, paper, ink, etc.16 As I have already noted, Spatz argues that the document is “relatively” stable compared to a performance. “Relatively,” however, has a very relative meaning in this context. It can mean “more stable than not,” which does not really mean stable. It can mean “more unstable than stable,” which again means unstable. Steve Martin’s script, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, is relatively stable compared to the performance, but what does it tell us about a production of the play? How did the relative stability of the text contribute to a performance that was received so differently from one venue to another, and from one performance to another? In discussing the archive as it relates to the teachings of Stanislavski, Spatz admits to relying heavily on one source (Spatz 5), the memoir of an actor who had been with Stanislavski “for a relatively short time” over seventy years ago (Cushkin 11). Neuroscience reveals the relative instability of memory. A memoir can be a great source of generative thought, but can in no way be considered a stable archive. I will return to this issue of the stability of the archive, and what I think the archive is good for and not good for below.                                                 16 For a clear and eloquent discussion of “distributive agency” and the nature of “assemblages” that addresses this very point, see “Chapter 2” of Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter. 56   2.1.10 Transmission is transformation In the meantime, I ask what kind of objectivity the archive, as document or digital recording, provides and whether pretending to stability the archive actually provides an example of what Bourdieu calls the “subsuming” of “the alternative logic of practice” to the “logic, knowledge, and cultural capital” of “rationality” — a rationality that “achieves privileged status by appropriating and subsuming” the alternative logic of practice. In the example of practice-based research, a new type of research is introduced into the academy, something that provides insights that traditional research does not. The academy, rather than adjusting by trying to understand the inherent rigour of the new type of research, appropriates and subsumes it, making it conform to the logic of rationality. Rationality here means objectivity. Objectivity, as I have argued, presupposes a lack of bias based on the concept of transcendental mind, and is the binary opposite of subjectivity. I have argued, following various theories of embodied cognition I have found no convincing refutation of, that “objectivity” can only mean greater physical distance. Wherever a body (a researcher-artist) is in relation to what it is studying, however distant from the immersion of subjective closeness, it is still in fact immersed in whatever context, whatever time and place it is in. It is never un-situated, never free from immersion in an environment (a café, an office), never free of socio-political constructs and biases, and never outside of the center of its own sensorium.17 Whatever truths the researcher achieves, whether close up or far                                                 17 The body can “recede” perceptually, in that one’s attention can be focused in such a way that only intense physical pleasure or pain brings awareness to the body, but the processes and sensory 57  away, these truths will be situated, contextual, contingent, and temporary. Rather than being durable, transmissible, and replicable, they will be contingent, unreliable, and transformational.  I use the word transformational because, although I agree that “transmission” occurs, that which is transmitted will go through transformation with every transmission. After a number of person-to-person transformational transmissions, some that according to Spatz will continue over centuries and more, what went in some time ago may have little to do with what comes out. What acting technique meant in classical Athens may have little to do with acting technique today. Spatz, in typical self-contradictory fashion, throughout his book acknowledges the principle of transformation while at the same time arguing for relatively reliable repeatability. His insistence in locating, through analysis, a specific causal moment in which, for example, Stanislavski’s method changes —  “If Stanislavsky indeed conducted research into acting, then we should be able to: identify the precise points at which his research branched off from previous technique” (122) — is quickly contradicted when he argues against simple causality — “As Carrick writes, we should avoid ‘investing the system with linear and teleological development’” (124).  I can say, as I reflect on the topic of this dissertation — embodied cognition in an interdisciplinary devised performance environment —that in the process of devising, something gets transmitted between artists, between attendants and artists, between attendants and other attendants, between artist-makers and artist-viewers, and so on. Each transmission is an act of transformation. Even with the most concrete elements — a set piece of a certain dimension placed in front of another set piece of a certain dimension —each individual comes to understand                                                                                                                                                        receptors continue to influence thinking, reading, and writing, and these continue to influence bodily processes (Ladron de Geuvara 21-23). 58  the spatial relationship in a way that is unique to her. It is impossible to predict how an artist or scholar who sees the performance will be influenced by it. As Derrida would argue, there is no absolute, foundational center to the experience. Each decentered subject makes meaning in her own way. The very scenography, with the audience stretched across the space, each attendant occupying a unique location, is in itself un-centered. Transformation cannot be concretized and measured in this context. Closeness and distance are equal qualifications for investigation and are equally immersive (but qualitatively different in unpredictable ways). If the taxpayer wants a measurable product in exchange for her investment she will be disappointed. If she wants to engage in an event, a performance, or a discussion as a curious co-adventurer, she may be delighted with her return.  2.1.11 Emergent methodology When discussing subjectivity and objectivity in terms of immersion and distance, I have tried to show that both have validity as investigative approaches and that in fact both approaches are contextually bound, situated, and ultimately immersive. Practice research in theatre tilts the emphasis towards closeness. How far a tilt depends on the particular study. From an intimate, hands-on working relationship with materials comes what Barrett calls “emergent methodologies,” the next part of her quote I would like to address.  The particular contours of my dissertation have emerged from years of practice and from particular devising experiments/performances, including der Wink, To Wear a Heart so White, Steppenwolf, and Revolutions. The process usually begins with an interest in materials, place, and spatial relationships. I follow hunches, momentary inspirations, suggestions, and so on. Actually this explanation is not adequate because I also work with ideas, old and new, my own 59  and others’, at times deeply considered theories, and at others sudden impulses. These are also “materials” in the Deleuzian sense of the assemblage: various actants, including physical objects and mental constructs, that work in confederacy, as Bennett puts it, to create a situation of limited duration — “an animal-vegetable-mineral sonority cluster with a particular degree of power and duration” (J. Bennett 24). Limited duration can mean millions of years of geological transformation or a few hours in a rehearsal studio. If we expand literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism to include the nonhuman, causality becomes very distributed and very fluid. The “dialogue,” or at least the listening part of the conversation, includes the “voices” of materials such as lighting equipment, a costume, or a cardboard flat. I try to allow other voices in, so to speak, theories or practices that have arisen, influenced the process, and added layers to the investigation.  From this highly collaborative process, in which things, ideas, and devisers from different disciplines come together to work across boundaries, emerge a working method and a show, a research approach and a dissertation.  2.1.12 Inter- and trans-disciplinary thinking, part two “Interdisciplinary” is one of the terms Barrett puts forward as part of her definition of the “generative enquiry” of studio-led research, another term from her quote would like to discuss. For Spatz, “interdisciplinary” begins with having depth of knowledge in one discipline and possibly developing some level of depth in a second or third (Spatz 229). Two or more researchers, each specialists in their own field, come together to trade information. The process is dialectical and categorical: there’s a clear division between at least two areas of expertise. In Spatz’s version discrete disciplines bump up against each other, each maintaining a level of 60  authority regarding a particular sphere of knowledge. Each researcher comes to the process as a knower who imparts that knowledge. This is what Spatz calls disciplinary “depth,” something he finds lacking in many PaR studies. For example, when critiquing fellow PaR theorist Robin Nelson for her “radically interdisciplinary” approach, one lacking the supposed rigour of the diachronic archive, Spatz writes, “Nelson sees PaR as recent and interdisciplinary, whereas embodied research as defined [by Spatz] is ancient and often disciplinary in form” (229). Spatz insists that “narrowly focused research projects” will “help to establish the validity of an emerging field” (229). I argue, along with Nelson, that it is not as simple as “[moving] from one discipline towards another,” an “engagement with discrete disciplines” (Nelson qtd. in Spatz 229). On the contrary, interdisciplinarity can be and often is an indiscrete engagement between indiscrete disciplines: there is a blurring between areas of expertise and an acknowledgement of a complex array of causalities (what Jane Bennett calls “distributive agency”) — a shifting and multiple causality that never knows what its effects will be, and can examine the effects only after the fact to get a general sense of possible causes. Spatz, despite invoking Delueze and Guattari early in his book, seems to have failed to grasp the central idea of the assemblage — a temporary formation of energies lacking easily defined causality. In an assemblage many actants temporarily form a contour of “efficacy” (Deleuze and Guattari 60). In embodied interdisciplinary creation, some of the actants or agents (the human ones) are artists; they need not all be in agreement. None of the artists within a group need be masters of a discipline. Rather each is a temporary “force” asserting itself at times and receding at others. Spatz adds to his argument for discrete and repeatable technique the idea of “contiguity” of varied techniques such as acting, martial arts, and yoga. However, contiguity by definition is not interdisciplinary. It puts one thing next to another, allowing for contact only at the borders. We 61  might generously call it co-disciplinary, or perhaps juxta-disciplinary, or sequential disciplinarity. Spatz’s lack of understanding of interdisciplinarity as a set of complex interrelations that require fluidity of trans-disciplinary thinking, rather than rigidity of categorical thinking, has put him in error regarding the contiguity of the embodied practices he describes (as I described earlier regarding taking technique out of context). While I value the same historical/diachronic research Spatz privileges, I disagree that it is necessary or relevant to all research projects. Contrary to what Spatz claims, the “synchronic” — the way current practices inform one another — can easily outweigh the diachronic. Take for example Gertrude Stein’s concept of the Landscape play and its influence on theatre artists of the 1960s and 70s. During those decades, Robert Wilson, The Living Theatre, La MaMa, Judson Poets Theatre, The Performance Group, and others claimed lineage to Stein (Lehmann 63). They had little to go on other than Stein’s writing and a few pictures of the landscape opera Four Saints in Three Acts. What these companies produced was radically different from that opera. It was only later, when lost film footage emerged, that we could see that what landscape play meant in 1934 had little connection to what it meant in 1976, although Stein’s theory of the landscape play was applied to work such as Wilson’s and Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach (see Fuchs; Verges). Embodied transmission of technique over three decades was not possible in this case. And yet three decades does not seem that long when put against claims of the relative stability of ancient traditions. Stein’s landscape theatre can be connected to Wilson’s landscape theatre, diachronically, but not through the kind of embodied or archival transmission that Spatz believes in. Instead, what gets passed down is a rumour, a vague idea, Stein’s poetry and novels, and other scraps of information. The performance groups working in the New York scene fed off one another synchronically more than diachronically: “Though historical knowledge is not effaced, my 62  notion of a practice review focuses on what other practitioners are achieving in synchronous space and time” (Nelson qtd. in Spatz 229).  Spatz’s personal claim of embodied lineage to acting guru Jerzy Grotowski through his own training is similarly problematic. There is a crucial issue he acknowledges in his diachronic construction and then immediately dismisses: Grotowski’s rigorous training methods were not conducted for the purpose of transmission of technique. Quite the opposite. Grotowski made physical training successively more difficult so that it could never be mastered. He felt this would push the actors beyond superficial performances (Mitter 93-98) — “The method we are teaching is not a combination of techniques borrowed from [other] sources . . . We do not want to teach the actor a predetermined set of skills or give him a ‘bag of tricks’” — and into something suffused with that mystifying aura we call presence: “This is a technique of the ‘trance’ and of the integration of all of the actor’s psychic and bodily powers which emerge from the most intimate layers of his being and his instinct, springing forth in a sort of ‘trans-lumination’” (Grotowski Poor 16) — a thing Spatz tries to break into analyzable parts. It did not really matter what the physical technique was. It could be juggling or throwing sticks. It might be some form of yoga. The goal was spiritual and as analyzable as trying to see a ghost on a film negative: “The body vanishes, burns, and the spectator sees only a series of visible impulses” (16). The point of technique in Grotowski, be it rigourous physical training, as in the early years in Poland, or learning traditional songs, as in his last phase in Italy, is to overcome technique. If a technique is employed, it is for the purpose of undoing technique.  Spatz finds this idea, articulated by just about every teacher of acting (something he acknowledges), romantic, excessive, wrong-headed, and ultimately not worth taking seriously. As he points out, many canonized acting teachers, perhaps most of them, express wariness 63  around codifying a method or predicting outcomes. Grotowski himself was against recording or transcribing his methods: “Grotowski became increasingly wary about providing descriptions of specific physical and vocal exercises,” writes Spatz (114). To this caution Spatz adds a list of other luminaries: “Jacques Lecoq, Monika Pagneux, and Philippe Gaulier ‘would strenuously deny that their teaching practice represents a “method’” (Hodge qtd. 114), to name a few. Grotowski felt there was no way, outside of the studio, to represent his teachings. It had to happen in person. Spatz, rather than asking whether there is some validity to the reservations expressed by these teachers, reservations about codifying a practice and turning it into qualitative data, dismisses their concerns as “romantic” (115).18  In my opinion he is right to treat claims of mystical presence with skepticism. And I find no fault in his attempt to discern useful repeatable techniques from their training methods, provided they are investigated within the greater context of a training method. If he is able to                                                 18 I am currently teaching a first year physical theatre training course for actors at the University of the Fraser Valley. One of the books I source is Through the Body: A Practical Guide to Physical Theatre by Dymphna Callery. Callery draws on a variety of training methods from Copeau to Grotowski to Lecoq. Based on her own practical experience she reiterates what she has learned personally and through book study from these other teachers: the training “is not codifiable” (Callery loc. 197). Dick McCaw, the author of the introduction writes, “Exercises aren’t a recipe for success, rather they are open structures by means of which we can make psycho-physical connections within ourselves” (loc. 119). I do not wish to split hairs over terminology, but I think the intent behind these statements, made by so many practitioners who have devoted so much time, in studio, to training is that technique is something of a by-product of practice, and not the other way around. Spatz argues that “embodied practice is structured by technique at every level” (10). These experienced practitioners seem to disagree. 	64  find application for whatever he can uncover, this may lead to interesting further training exercises. My issue is his claim that what he has uncovered or received has diachronic stability and represents a new standard of rigour in performance research. That the authenticity of the training he has prized most, his own, through a Grotowskian lineage of sorts, is so hotly contested among many practitioners and some scholars, gives the lie to his claim of the “relative” stability of the transmission of technique over time.  The diachronic archive is a useful fiction. I intend no sarcasm by this. The archive is always partial, fragmented, and sometimes barely there. It requires an act of imagination to string the bits together as narrative. No two people will string together the same narrative. Therefore, as historians and theorists of historiography tend to point out, our creation of the archive tells us more about ourselves than about the past.19 History is always revisionist. In Chapter 4 I take the research of David Wiles as inspiration for the creative construction of Steppenwolf. Wiles, in his rethinking of the history of Western performance spaces, writes a little differently about theatre history than others do. Is his version the right one? How convincing are the connections he draws from the allegory of Plato’s Cave, written in the 4th century BC, through the invention of the Italianate stage, to the mid-20th century musical theatre production South Pacific? His narrative appeals to me. I am drawn to the way he connects the dots across time. More importantly I find I can use his theories. They have practical application. In a few years we may get a radically different version of how the spatial configuration of the Italianate stage came to be. Wiles’ version, for now, is a useful fiction/history for me. Studies of oral cultures show that even though                                                 19 Historian Hayden White makes this point in Tropics of Discourse. For a discussion related specifically to theatre historiography, see Balme. 65  members of a social group believe they faithfully transmit their oral story from generation to generation, field recordings conducted over decades show otherwise (Ong 46-49). A story is adapted to meet current socio-political expediency. Does this mean the stories aren’t “true”? Something is transmitted. Someone told someone something and they told someone, and something the culture considers valuable is passed along. Truth becomes a negotiation, a creative transformation.  I think there is great value in discipline-specific depth of thinking. I work with lighting, projection, and sound designers, installation artists, visual artists, and choreographers. Although I have learned something of what each of them does, I do not possess their technical knowledge or aesthetic predilections. Most of them do not possess the depth of thought I have put into scenography, directing, and performing. We educate each other a little more with every project. I think this is the kind of interdisciplinary collaboration that Spatz describes. As much as I value it, I also consider it the most basic type. What I value more is what I have been calling trans-disciplinary thinking. This is where breadth becomes more important than depth: knowing a bit about many areas, and sometimes next to nothing, but being able to think across disciplines in collaboration with others.  What I am describing is the opposite of what for Spatz amounts to objective rigour. One of my areas of disciplinary expertise, in Spatz’s sense, is acting technique. I graduated from three years of formal training at one of Canada’s top accredited theatre schools, have received several awards as a professional actor, have been nominated for several more, have received critical acclaim from reviewers, have performed in everything from large Shakespeare festivals to self-produced alternative “experimental” (whatever that means) productions, have performed professionally on film and in radio plays, have studied acting theory and the history of acting 66  training, have directed shows and taught acting in several universities and colleges, and have often been employed in contemporary dance, variously as a performer, writer, acting coach, and dramaturge. And yet this “expertise” (and to be honest I do not consider myself an expert and do not really agree with the connotations that go with the term) is perhaps less important, in the devising process, than areas in which I have less expertise or no expertise at all. What is important is listening, considering a variety of approaches, blending them in the moment, disregarding what seemed important yesterday or an hour ago, taking on another’s attitude, picking up information on the spot and applying it on the spot, stopping activity to theorize with the group, abandoning theory in order to make something, learning a new skill when something calls for it and forgetting that skill when it gets in the way. This is breadth. This is transdisciplinary thinking.  I also use it in the writing of this dissertation. I am not a neuroscientist, an expert in embodied cognition, a cognitive psychologist, a philosopher, a political-theorist, a scenographer, a historian, or a neurobiologist. And yet I have investigated and borrowed ideas from all of these disciplines to create this dissertation. Prior to this study, I have written, among other topics, on the gentrification of arts-identified neighbourhoods, on the exchange of symbolic capital through international performance festivals, and I have developed a theory of documentary theatre. If I succeed in defending this dissertation I might be called a performance theorist. I think performance theory is an interdisciplinary category in itself. The point is, it is in thinking across the academic disciplines listed above that I have been able to undertake this particular study. I have tried to mine specific theories across these disciplines in such a way that the gestalt of the performance experience does not get lost in depth mining.  67  2.1.13 Abstraction vs. the whole In arguing for rigour, Spatz falls into the trap of abstracting an element of practice  — for example, a physical training technique from a performance or rehearsal — from its greater context, to the extent that the complexity of interrelated parts that make up a performance or rehearsal gets lost. The abstracted bit obtains the name of rigour, while attempts to wrestle with the complexity of the interdisciplinary whole are dismissed as sloppy and fuzzy, or problematized as events “bounded in time and space.” James J. Gibson’s theory of vision offers a counter-argument to such thinking, one that shows how limiting Spatz’s theory can be. The mechanics of how a photon enters the eye, triggers nerve cells, and stimulates the visual cortex is useful information but should not be confused with the totality of seeing, which is a whole body experience in which eyeballs rotate in a head that swivels on a neck that floats on a body with many moving parts, which in turn interacts with an environment. We learn much by studying optics. We learn just as much by studying a person moving in a context bounded by time and space. In the case of the transmission of embodied knowledge in theatre art, we can isolate parts — how a lighting instrument works, how a fader brings up a light, how a riser is built — but successfully operating a single lighting instrument is not the same as creating a lighting design in collaboration with an existing space and with fellow artists. Except when the lighting instrument itself is foregrounded by the artists, the attendant will engage the performance event as a whole. A neuroscientist can describe the action of a single neuron — a nerve cell — with its nucleus, soma, dendrites, axon hillock, axon, myelin sheath, axon terminals, exchange of chemicals and transference of molecules from one synapse to another. This is useful information. But the efforts of a single neuron do not tell us enough about how we engage with our environments, including scenographic environments. We need to scale things up to the level of bundles of neurons firing 68  in concert, then up to neuron firing across brain regions, up an down the spine, out to muscles and organs and back. We need to consider how neural maps get formed and reformed. This is where the philosophers of embodied cognition step in and try to offer explanations of how humans and other animals engage with their surroundings in a non-representational manner. The performance theorist then applies this thinking to the embodied production/reception of a performance design. In trying to demonstrate rigour by abstracting technique from performance and demonstrating it in isolation, Spatz loses sight of technique-in-performance. He fails to recognize the validity of the arguments made by the very subjects he studies, Stanislavski and Grotowski among them: that technique cannot in isolation be scaled back up to a performance; it is not a substitute for the complexity of a performance — an actor in a production. In Grotowski’s case it is not even a building block upon which the edifice of a performance can be built — it is an opportunity for exploration and development. Practice research is indeed a heterogeneous field. Each study should be taken on its own merits. It is not necessary to impose a new one-size fits all version of rigour. Standards of rigour should be applied on a case-by-case basis. Methodology and criteria can emerge from a practice. This is the reverse of what Spatz suggests when he argues that “technique is knowledge that structures practice.” Technique in his framing, comes before practice: “If embodied knowledge is both substantive and diverse, then what kind of research produces it, and how does it move from one body or cultural context to another?” (Spatz 2). This puts concept before action. It is an a priori approach in which research “produces” embodied knowledge. I have no problem beginning with a concept as one way to start a research project. It need not become the standard approach. As Barrett argues, adhering to a theory-practice binary is not representative of all 69  practice research, nor is it necessarily the most productive, insightful, or even intellectually honest way to proceed.   2.2 Methodology 2.2.1 Audience reception theory and getting to embodied cognition Much of what I write next regarding my methodology has been implicitly or explicitly stated in the sections above. Here I flesh out some of the points in narrative style. I have chosen this style because I feel it reflects the manner in which this study was undertaken over the years. I begin with a summary of audience reception theory and how this dissertation might be contextualized within this still emerging field. Then I move on to categories of study and practice, presenting them in a somewhat chronological order that reveals something of my progress through theory, history, and practice.  I became interested in audience reception theory during my undergraduate studies. As a theatre-maker I felt the need to develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between spectator and performance. Generalities regarding the communal nature of the audience, often repeated among theatre colleagues, seemed not only inadequate but, based on my observations over the years as an actor, writer, and director, and my conversations with fellow spectators, completely false. I examined the semiotic approach to audience reception but quickly became dissatisfied with it due to the limitations of the reader-writer paradigm, in which a spectator treats all performance phenomena as decodable textual signifiers. The semiotic paradigm is a scholarly convenience in which the phenomenal world is colonized by those who read and write for a living, and are able to categorize all relationships according to the logic of 70  their primary practice — reading and writing.20 A consequence of this linguistic bias is that it tends to ignore other modes of perceptual engagement. For example a dancer-choreographer might engage with performance primarily through her understanding of kinetic force, gravity, weight, tempo, and so on. Why not make this the primary mode of analyzing performance? A carpenter who spends his time working with wood may perceive the world primarily in terms of textures of smooth and rough, of densities and pliability of wood, of tempo, of force and release of his air-compression nail gun, and of the mathematical equations required to measure the things of his world. In both of the above examples the signifier-signified relationship of semiotic analysis fails to explain much. What does gravity reference? What does the smoothness of wood grain point to? There are many instances in which semiotic analysis provides a useful shorthand. For example, a period costume and wig will likely have symbolic value for anyone familiar with the referenced historical period. But even when the signifier is this explicit, it tends to be in conflict with material factors presented on stage: the particularity of the actor in the costume, the fact that the performance is taking place in the present and nowhere else, and so on.  I had not yet discovered the world of embodied cognition but I seemed to have found an antidote to semiotics in phenomenology. Although I did not immediately become acquainted with Merleau-Ponty’s version of the “lived body,” something that has found its way into my consciousness more recently, the phenomenological concept of intersubjectivity seemed closer to the mark, as it treated art and attendant as deeply intertwined. The concept of intersubjectivity                                                 20 As Conquergood writes, “Subjugated knowledges have been erased because they are illegible; they exist, by and large, as active bodies of meaning, outside of books, eluding the forces of inscription that would make them legible, and thereby legitimate” (146). 71  renders the idea of performance as an autonomous art object, separate from the viewer, untenable. By the mid-2000s in theatre studies, it was recognized that reception and production are so enmeshed in the performance event that they must be considered as a whole (Balme 34-35). On the other hand phenomenology presented a problem for me because it seemed to produce no “data,” in the sense of spectator testimonials — questionnaires, response-machines, talkbacks, or focus groups. As the reader will be aware of, by now I am skeptical of the insights such data can provide. Attendant responses are so varied they merely confirm that it is hard to characterize a number of spectators as a single group (an audience) having a perceptually consistent experience. But at the time I was seeking something less soloed than what was offered in the forms of the investigation of phenomenology I was exploring (there are many types of phenomenological investigation, from its founder Husserl to recent cognitive theory influence adaptations such as Chemero’s dynamical systems theory). Bruce McConachie’s 2008 book Engaging Audiences: A Cognitive Approach to Spectating in the Theatre provided the opening I was looking for. Neurobiology, neuroscience, and cognitive psychology seemed to go beyond mere speculation and provide scientific evidence of how an attendant embodies a theatre performance. Years later it is the philosophy of embodied cognition and its connection to discoveries in neuroscience that I find most compelling. The scientific data alone is also exciting but like most science it is not always as “scientific” as those of us who are not scientists are led to believe. What I mean is that many of the findings are contested. For example, the existence and function of mirror neurons, nerve cells that are involved in neuromuscular mimicry, a concept that has been taken up by many theatre and dance scholars as a way of explaining how the spectator empathizes with, and embodies the performer, 72  has by no means achieved consensus among neuroscientists.21 As well, in journals of neuroscience, I read about lab experiments in which the researchers consider positive human response of something higher than a few percentage points to a test as significant and sometimes conclusive. I cannot help noticing that if fifteen out of a hundred people confirmed a hypothesis, then eighty-five did not.  What we can say with confidence in neuroscience is that there are things we call neurons (nerve cells) that have a particular and observable structure, that they transfer chemicals (neurotransmitters) and electrical energy to other neurons, that they exist in a variety of forms throughout the brain, spine and other regions of the body, and that with an fMRI scanner, a critical tool for the neuroscientist, colourful images can be produced that represent electro-chemical activity as blood flow in the brain and body. These images are of course digital representations of something that at present, due to limited resolution capacity (we can only see to a certain microscopic level and no further), are still very relatively crude. We do not see individual neuronal activity, only broad patterns of activity (with other instruments we can get down to the single neuron, but these instruments, for obvious ethical reasons, are mostly used on nonhuman animals). It seems that even the concept of discrete brain regions, topographical locations responsible for particular sensory modalities (i.e. the auditory cortex), is being stretched. While the idea of the locational cortex continues to seem valid, it is also understood that sensory modalities can be partly distributed across brain regions; for example, while the auditory cortex still seems to be the major center for auditory neural firing, other regions also seem take part. On the other hand the Human Connectome Project, a consortium of investigators                                                 21 See Hickock, The Myth of Mirror Neurons. 73  and institutions attempting to map every neural pathway in the brain, has recently discovered a host of new regions by combining three different types of fMRI brain maps, more than doubling the number previously “proven” to exist. Ninety-seven have been added to eighty-three previously-known brain regions for a total of one-hundred and eighty. It is not hard to imagine, with greater image resolution, that we might discover hundreds more — at which point we should ask whether the idea of a cortical or sub-cortical brain region still applies.  Despite these cautions I continue to find neuroscience useful. As a performance scholar, I often source it for its metaphorical value. I am not a neuroscientist and I do not have the tools to evaluate lab experiments and statistical information, but I find the concept of the neural map a useful one. It offers me a way to understand body to environment coupling and how memory is created and re-created. There is a precision to the concepts that I appreciate. Because the concepts are precise, I become more precise in my thinking. Given the current evidence for neurons, neuronal firing, and neurons firing in “bundles” or in relationship to other bundles, I find the argument for the neuronal “mapping” very plausible. It also offers me ways to think about embodiment that goes beyond traditional notions of spectator-performer identification theories, which are connected to humanistic assertions of communality and universality of values and experience. So the neuroscientific turn, part of the embodiment turn in performance studies, has been productive for me.  Most applications of neuroscientific theory in theatre and dance have focused on spectator-performer cognition — how one body comes to understand another through activation of, for example, mirror-neurons. When I began trying to apply neuroscience to attendant-scenography cognition, there was nothing available that explicitly addressed my interest. To my knowledge there still is not. For this reason I turned to architectural theories, theories of scenography and 74  “performance design,” and to Gibson’s ecological theory of visual perception to try to build several hypotheses as to how someone makes sense of spatial and textural elements in performance. Gibson has been a major reference for theorists of embodied cognition for some time. Very recently a book on architecture and neuroscience, Mind in Architecture: Neuroscience, Embodiment, and the Future of Design, has been published, co-edited by one of the world’s eminent architects and art theorists, Juhani Pallasmaa, and this has begun to open up areas specific to how a body interacts with architectural (and by extension, for me, scenographic) space. I have put these ideas in conversation with scenographic theory and history, theories of neural maps, and metaphor theory grounded in both cognitive neuroscience and cognitive psychology, in order to develop my own theories and practices.  During my studies I initially intended to provide concrete data, through depth interviews and questionnaires. Very little of this currently exists in audience reception theories. One of the best-known reception studies is Susan Bennett’s Theatre Audiences. It provides no audience data. A more recent work by Peter Eversmann, based on psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory, includes interviews with about one hundred undergraduate students and about twenty-five theatre administrators. The responses are varied, and given the demographic, they perhaps tell us more about undergraduate student audiences in Holland than they do about typical theatre-goers, which tend to be, on average, older than an undergraduate student. Radbourne et al.’s The Audience Experience: A Critical Analysis of Audiences in the Performing Arts (2013), is concerned with identifying ways of “enhancing” the audience “experience” and “proposing a tool for measuring audience engagement” (12). As an artistic director of a theatre company, I appreciate the authors’ desire “to identify the qualities that build creative engagement, self-expression, self-actualization, and loyalty among attenders” (12). I am interested in particular in 75  the spectator’s “engagement” and “loyalty.” These are things we try to foster at Fight With a Stick through our post-show discussions, salon series, and film nights. However, our main concern is not with marketing; it is with making art. We do not tailor our work to suit an audience; we try to convince an audience to like our aesthetic. We think of outreach in terms of propaganda. While our enjoyment of post-show discussions and salons is genuine, we also see these as opportunities to indoctrinate and recruit audience members. The model is more akin to the communist cell than to contemporary marketing research strategies. If we are successful at teaching people to like what we like, they will return and bring friends. We will be able to make more of the kind of theatre art we like.  In Audience as Performer (2015) Heim interviews one-hundred and forty individuals — audience members, but also actors and ushers — who “perform” in mainstream theatre: “Comments are taken from personal interviews, post-show discussions and questionnaires undertaken with ordinary audience members, actors and ushers” (8). Heim’s concern is in the more general territory of what it feels like to be an audience member. She also discusses the spectator as co-creator of the mainstream theatre event, as well as reactions to specific performances. Despite this, she seems to fall back into the older model of examining audience reception and theatre production as two closely related but ontologically separate spheres. Her dogged pursuit of the “ordinary” theatre goer seems to be a bit of a cultural fiction. “Ordinary” seems to mean anyone who is not a critic, director, writer; having a professional association with theatre, except for actors and ushers for some reason, disqualifies you (7). Given that Heim’s focus is mainstream theatre, including massive musicals and long-running productions of Shakespeare, her sample size seems very small. And this is another issue I have with the kind of data collection that occurs with audience reception studies in theatre. Of the hundreds of 76  thousands, perhaps millions of people who attend mainstream theatre every year, one-hundred and forty respondents, only one-hundred and six of whom are “ordinary” theatre goers, seems tiny to the point of being merely anecdotal.  I enjoy reading in-depth interviews with arts patrons. My preference is for those who have well-developed opinions of the art form. In fact my favourite readings are interviews conducted in 1990 by Csikszentmihalyi and Robinson (henceforth C&R) for the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Center for Education in the Arts in The Art of Seeing. For this study the authors chose only “experts,” curators and the like, not “the average viewer” (xv). So the intent is a bit different from Heim’s, but has overlap with Eversmann. I appreciate these interviews because I learn things from the expert that I do not readily learn from the “ordinary” theatre goer. Heim’s respondents and Eversmann’s students have various ways of articulating their emotional and visceral responses, but they tell me little I do not already know. Experts, or regular theatre goers with well developed aesthetics, often give me something to think about. They see things I didn’t see. That I can find this in C&R’s interviews is due to the questions they put forward regarding aesthetic experience. I get more out of these, as an artist and as a scholar of the kind of theatre art that interests me, than I do from Heim’s “five standard questions,” questions such as “Do you think your reactions give something to the actors?” (9). I suppose this hasn’t been empirically proven but… did it really need to be asked? Because I have been asked by my committee to provide voices that corroborate my hypotheses of how attendants embody scenography, I have included a few attendant responses from our post-show discussions as well as the voices of theatre reviewers. The company I work for, Fight With a Stick (legal name: Leaky Heaven Performance Society), undertakes and records discussion after every single performance. One of the shows examined in this dissertation is 77  Steppenwolf, which had six performances at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in 2015. The audience of the sold-out run amounted to close to six-hundred people. About forty percent of every audience stayed for discussion: 238 people in total. The response was extremely positive and I have selected a few comments that most specifically address the issues raised in the dissertation. I have also included some commentary by theatre critics. Our most recent show, Revolutions (2016), had 13 performances. Due to the particular immersive scenography, audience capacity was limited to 23 people per show, for a total of 260 people. About 75% of the audience stayed for talkbacks. The response was even more enthusiastic than for Steppenwolf. I have included some of the comments. Revolutions had six full reviews. Five were raves, one was negative. I have included negative audience and critic comments from both shows to show a variety of response, and to avoid giving the impression that the shows were somehow positively received by all.  I want to restate that I do not think this data reveals much. Does the fact that five critics responded with enthusiasm to Revolutions mean that other critic’s response is invalid? While Revolutions was received with the kind of response a theatre artist like me dreams of getting, there were people who did not like it at all. A middle-age man stated, at one of the talkbacks, that he felt misled by the extremely positive review written by his favourite critic Colin Thomas of the Georgia Straight. For some reason, despite Thomas preparing the reader for something unlike conventional theatre, the man complained Revolutions wasn’t a play. He had seen forty-two plays already that year (it was only May!) and for him Revolutions was indulgent to the point of being masturbatory. At the same show a couple of similar middle-age said Revolutions had finally given them a reason, after many disappointments, to return to the theatre (Leaky Heaven Revolutions Talkback).  78  I can point to a majority of positive responses for both Steppenwolf and Revolutions and present individual responses that corroborate my suggestions. I can also present responses that don’t. What do we learn from this? That some people enjoy this type of theatre and respond in a way that seems to agree with the embodiment theories I present, and that some do not. I can say that, as Fight With a Stick intended, our “hybrid” shows have increasingly attracted a “hybrid” audience, meaning that in addition to theatre patrons our audience also comes from the worlds of visual arts, dance, and contemporary music (one audience member, having attended the recent Vancouver Art Gallery exhibit MashUp! felt Revolutions should be the capstone of the exhibit, since it seemed to exemplify, in an interdisciplinary way, so many of the concerns of visual artists of the past century) (Leaky Heaven Talkbacks: Revolutions). I can say that some people find our adventures in theatre worth engaging with. They buy tickets. They come. The data do not prove or disprove the hypotheses I put forward. I don’t see how it could. Rather than building rigour through third-person corroboration in the form of audience response data, I have put my faith in the application of theory to practice and the reciprocal relationship between the two.  2.2.2 Theories of the materiality of attendant-performance relationship The rigour of this paper lies in the application of several theories  — in combination with my practice of interdisciplinary theatre devising — to the issue of embodied cognition of a scenographic design. The reading part began in earnest with McConachie, who, in Engaging Audiences, marked out for theatre scholars the terrain of neuroscience and embodied cognition. McConachie gave me a way to rethink spectator-performance encounters. I had previously been heavily influenced by history/theory books such as Fischer-Lichte’s The Transformative Power of Performance, Lehmann’s Postdramatic Theatre, and The Theatre of Socìetas Rafaello Sanzio 79  (composed and compiled by two scholars and three members of the company). Fischer-Lichte’s emphasis on the materiality of the actor and other performance elements prodded me in a similar direction, one that eventually meshed well with the cognitive theories I was reading. These tended to examine the sensorimotor system in relationship to things in the world that can be seen and physically made contact with. Lehmann addresses materiality but also characterizes non-narrative performance as a sequence of energetic states. In shifting the emphasis away from narrative and onto either the materiality of performer or the dynamism of scenography, these writers helped me move past the usual theatre obsession with the human figure and onto the scenographic whole. Cognitive concepts such as neural maps, sensorimotor accessibility, and affordances sharpened my understanding of attendant perception and gave me practical strategies for exploiting perceptual modes. I was of course also attending performances throughout my years of study. Socìetas Rafaello Sanzio offered the most intriguing examples of a scenography that resists narrative interpretation and puts the focus on material factors. In their work the usual actual-fictive theatre binary collapses into just the actual, and is therefore non-binary. Because of the affective power of material elements (including less concrete elements such as sound, light, and smell) it can be hard to reference anything other than what is happening on stage. This makes it very useful for applying neural map theory and sensorimotor theories to perception of scenography.  2.2.3 Architecture and scenographic theory Architecture theory, particularly that of Bernard Tschumi (postmodernist architecture of disjunction), Pallasmaa (haptic architecture), and Peter Zumthor (atmospheres and material), became an important source due to the fact that architects tend to work in a great variety of 80  situations, and are therefore forced to consider many types of spatial arrangements. Most books on scenography, such as What is Scenography, by pre-eminent British scenographer Pamela Howard, tend to deal with some version of the typical Western audience-stage set-up. A relatively conventional narrative as the basis for scenographic design is also usually assumed. Innovative modernist scenographers such as Appia, Craig, and Svoboda, though each has much to offer, tended to work with a performance situation in which audience and stage are clearly separated. It was during der Wink, my first show with Leaky Heaven, that I began to think through scenography as architecture and work through embodied cognition in a practical way — in rehearsal and during performance. The show, which put the audience amid forty 4’x8’ moving walls, was co-designed by Vancouver architect Jesse Garlick and director Steven Hill, so the connection between scenography and architecture was explicit. There was no over-arching narrative, only transient scenes that arose from and then melted into the moving architecture. The movement of walls, with light and sound, was the “story.” I found the experience delightful and profound. And, of course, the burning question was: Why was I, and why were attendants and critics, able to find meaning in this experience?22 A choreographer I know, after seeing the der                                                 22 Critic Colin Thomas wrote: “One of the most interesting elements in this exploration of community and alienation is the audience’s physical relationship to the set and actors. On the floor of the Russian Hall, the folks from Leaky Heaven have set out viewers’ chairs in a grid, so wherever you sit, you have narrow aisles on all sides of you. In the opening movement, as Parjad Sharifi’s green light washes the crowd and the sloshing waves in Nancy Tam’s excellent sound design are joined by tones that sound like ship’s horns—a note, a harmonic, a chord—there’s plenty of opportunity to notice the beauty and fleshly vulnerability of those around you” (Thomas Der Wink). Peter Dickinson wrote: “Leaky Heaven's latest 81  Wink, said it was the best choreography she’d seen in some time. “Meaning” had been derived from an embodied encounter with moving walls. The application of embodied cognition in theatre and dance studies until then, and still today, is primarily concerned with how human bodies understand other human bodies. What became clear during der Wink was that embodied cognition of scenography — body to environment — needed to be thought through.   2.2.4 Two and three dimensions — screens on stage Around this time I also began to reflect on plaything, a work I had seen a few years earlier by Vancouver dance-theatre company MACHiNENOiSY. plaything was conceived by choreographer Delia Brett and created in collaboration with two visual artists (an animator and a painter), a sound designer, and a puppeteer. What interested me most about it was the tension created between three-dimensional elements such as human bodies, a giant skirt, and puppets, and two-dimensional elements such as a downstage projection screen, projected animations, and                                                                                                                                                        performance work, der Wink, is a thrilling immersive experience, a multi-sensory exploration of space and how that influences the sense we make of our own embodied encounters in and with that space . . . We are also watching each other watching the performers. And, in doing so, we are not just part of the performance installation; we are the installation. This is underscored most materially when, near the end of the piece, the cardboard panels are rearranged to wall off different sections of the audience from others. It induces a moment of reverse agoraphobic panic (at least it did in me), as, suddenly separated from my community, my public, I no longer have any sense (quite literally) of my place within it” (Dickinson Leaky).  	82  shadow puppetry. Among other things I was intrigued by the way the three-dimensional body would “puncture” the screen.  plaything was first presented in 2009 at the Dance Centre in Vancouver. A year earlier I had begun to attend and read about Socìetas Rafaello Sanzio shows, usually directed by Romeo Castellucci. A feature of many the company’s works is the downstage scrim, through which the world beyond becomes hazy and muted, later to be revealed in vivid clarity of shape and colour due to the removal of the veil. Between plaything, the theatre of Socìetas Rafaello Sanzio, and der Wink, a scenographic theme was emerging: the power of moving surfaces, screens, and frames, and their relationship to the perception of two- and three-dimensional space. This ended up having huge ramifications for Steppenwolf in particular, and to a lesser extent for To Wear a Heart so White and Revolutions.  2.2.5 Synaesthesia, multimodal perception In 2013 I delved into Wiles’ A Short History of Western Performance Space. I was working closely as a scenographic deviser and performer on Leaky Heaven’s To Wear a Heart so White (2014). In working through spatial arrangements proposed by the director Steven Hill, myself, and others, I found Wiles’ expansive but focused study of six major spatial configurations offered me models for exploiting patterns familiar to most theatre spectators – the circle, the rectangle, the triangle of the single-point perspective stage, the stage or auditorium as container, and so on. Wiles also discussed patterns that were less common but still recognizable, such as the procession and the symposium. I began to think through and experiment with such patterns in rehearsal, considering them in the light of neural maps and spatial metaphor. In To Wear a Heart so White we employed many of these configurations: the procession (both audience and 83  performer processions), the circle as a seating arrangement, the rectangle/container combined with the Italianate stage, and the symposium (in this case a dinner with audience and performers at tables in a circular configuration). Space, or more precisely place — a specific location with things in it, a material context — is always a multisensory encounter. Two of the most obvious factors in any performance design are sound and light. Therefore it becomes impossible to talk about scenography without talking about the inseparability of these from tangible factors such as set-pieces and actors. Sound reinforces or alters our perception of a place, whether the sound already exists in the environment or is introduced by design. Sound waves require surfaces to bounce off of and this influences how we perceive these surfaces. Light waves/particles also require surfaces that photons strike and bounce off of. Both sound and light have been addressed in some detail in this dissertation, often from an explicitly neuroscientific standpoint. How sound and light clarify or confuse an attendant’s sensorimotor-based perception of a performance design, and how the artists involved in the case studies create specific conditions for this, is also examined in great detail. Other sensory modalities — for example smell and taste — are also critical but have been touched upon only briefly, for the sake of keeping this study within manageable limits.  However, my theorizing and performance-making have been influenced by the multi-sensory scenography of French symbolist theatre (particularly as described in Deak’s book Symbolist Theatre, and by Lehmann) and Di Benedetto’s work on multisensory embodied cognition in theatre. The late 19th century Symbolist theatre, with its use of downstage screens, dim lighting, scented audience areas, a hieratic acting style, and its explicit emphasis on synaesthetic experience, offers precedent for the work of Castellucci and others. As an example of non-narrative performance that foregrounds sound, colour, vocal quality and scent over plot 84  and character, it offers strategies for shifting audience attention away from what philosopher Gumbrecht calls “meaning effects” — interpreting sign systems23 and the mind of another (51-54; xv) — and toward the intensifying of “presence effects” — the way meaning is “produced” through “spatial relationship[s] to the world and its objects” (xiii). Di Benedetto’s explorations of multi-sensory performance continue this shift. Like me, he also looks to the precedent setting performances of the symbolists, particularly their experiments with perfumes and incense. His arguments are built on a neurological and physiological foundation and use many historical and contemporary theatre performances as examples.  2.2.6 Uncertainty In reading Di Benedetto, I found support for my own views but also became wary of the confidence with which he states his claims. There is something a bit simplistic in his application of neuroscience to the transmission and reception of sensory affect. I’m uncomfortable with the lack of uncertainty expressed and lack of acknowledgement of how contested many of the aspects of neuroscientific theory he employs are. Based on my reading of his text I suspect that he, like me, has a rudimentary grasp of the neuroscience. Therefore I think it best to acknowledge uncertainty and make claims for plausibility and no more.24 Di Benedetto’s                                                 23 This may seem a contradiction given that symbolist theatre artists developed specific and elaborate sign-systems intended to unlock deep spiritual mysteries, but my interest is in the spatial relationships, audio-visual-olfactory and surface affects, not mystical sign systems. 24 I also found Di Benedetto’s argument for aggressively violating the attendant’s sensory space problematic. He claims this is an ethical responsibility of the artist, undertaken for the purpose of freeing 85  overconfidence, similar to Spatz’s, is another example of why I find it more productive, not to mention ethically responsible and intellectually honest, to keep the dialogue uncertain regarding research outcomes. Every single one of my Masters level studies taught me the same thing. For example, when examining documentary theatre as a political project I came to understand the complexity of what is considered a document and to question notions of authenticity regarding document and archive. In applying Bourdieu’s theory of symbolic capital to the international performing art market I found his analysis overly cynical, reducing every action in the field to rude economic exchange and political position-taking. Trying to apply Bourdieu’s analysis became problematic because its confident truth-claims do not allow for other motivations, including altruism. In exploring gentrification of arts-identified neighbourhoods, causality seemed far less deterministic than I first thought, although some causes could certainly be identified. I do not mean to say that knowledge outcomes are impossible. We build bridges and car engines based on experiments that lead to knowledge outcomes. In theatre we make lighting instruments and use sound mixing software that can be expected to perform with some                                                                                                                                                        the attendant from desensitization induced by the saturation of images of pain and torture in our culture. Personally, I am up for it. I acknowledge the self as dialogic, polyvocal, constructed, rehearsed, and performed; open to and constructed by, among other things, multi-sensory experience, past and present. Playing around with fluidity of identity in performance is something I enjoy. But I also know from experience that such violations are simply traumatic to some people. I feel it is beyond the skill of most theatre artists to deal with the consequences of inducing such trauma. Therefore I make the opposite argument: It is our ethical responsibility as artists to prepare the attendant for perceptual experiments that may be trauma-inducing and to stay within manageable limits. It is not up to me to decide if someone else needs a dose of extreme sensitization or personality fracturing. 86  reliability. On the other hand, when it comes to audience reception, embodied cognition, and transmission of embodied knowledge in the arts, we can claim only so much.  2.2.7 Neural maps After having spent so many pages questioning data collection and the misapplication of scientific method to performance research, I should further clarify my reasons for turning to neuroscience. As I wrote above, McConachie opened the way. The next major source for me was Philosophy in the Flesh, by Lakoff and Johnson. In this major tome the authors revisit their earlier work Metaphors we live by, but grounded in the findings of cognitive neuroscience and cognitive psychology. Their argument for the sensorimotor foundation of metaphor — that metaphors only make sense because we understand them in terms of physical, spatial relationships to other things — is one I have fully accepted in this dissertation. I also fully accept their dismissal of the Cartesian notion of a split mind and body (the body being an instrument of the mind), and agree with their contention that we are integrated bodyminds that make meaning the way we do because of the physical structure we possess.  In The Meaning of the Body Johnson further develops the concept of the neural map, a metaphor for complex patterns of neural firing. It is through the repetition, instantiation, and modification of such “maps” that we create embodied memories. Neurobiologist Antonio Damasio explains, by reference to theories of the evolution of the human brain, that we are able to “store” and “retrieve” such maps as formulas rather than as representations. A key idea of the non-representational neural pattern is that it is an analogic correlate of perceivable phenomena: neurons fire in our brains in patterns that preserve, to a degree, the spatial structure of that which is perceived. Visually, when perceiving a chair, neurons in the brain fire in the shape of the chair. 87  This non-representational approach is sometimes called “direct realism.” We simulate (as Barsalou, Bergen and others have put it) that which we encounter. The theatre patron, it stands to reason, must do the same with a performance. Gibson’s theory of spatial affordances, in which perception is for action, adds another layer to the embodiment concept. If something is available to me, whether a pathway for movement or a thing to be eaten, I understand it through sensorimotor perception. I do not have to move along a path or eat something, but I understand such opportunities through neuromuscular action — the same or similar neurons that fire when literally doing the thing also fire when seeing the possibility or considering the action. We see for the possibilities of movement/action that the environment affords us.  I consider Gibson’s book a kind of scenography primer, although it was never intended as such. His discussion of how we perceive surfaces has broad application. I have been able to use his ideas to create perceptual experiments for the audience, especially for Steppenwolf and Revolutions. Using concepts of sensorimotor access and neural maps, together with models of Western stage space, I became sharper in my arrangement of scenographic elements. Understanding perception as physical access allowed me to play with providing or obscuring physical access through arrangement of surfaces — placement and illumination of all kinds of surfaces. I was also able to analyze the works of other artists such as Castellucci from this standpoint, and gain some understanding as to why his works affect me and some others the way they do.  2.2.8 Into the unknown knowledge outcome Applying theory to practice does not necessarily mean having a plan. Steppenwolf  began with the interest of my co-artistic director, Steven Hill, in Lacan’s theory of the mirror stage of ego 88  development, in which one develops a sense of “I” separate from others through discovering one’s image in a mirror (something Lacan felt was ultimately a delusion). I wasn’t so interested in Lacan, but I was fascinated by the way in which objects “perform” in a mirror — the strange tension between illusion of depth and flatness of surface — and the way objects, with the help of a little directed light, can be isolated from other objects on the reflective surface, more so than when one looks at the thing directly. It was only after weeks of exploration that I began to see the connection to Gibson and to sensorimotor access. During the later phases of rehearsal, when we were exploring in the performance venue through a very in-the-moment series of explorations  that included combining video projection on a curtained stage, movement of the curtains, low red-coloured video light, and the opening and closing of the curtains, did the consequences of messing with sensorimotor access to these spatial features become fully conscious. Even so, it was during the reflective period of writing about it that I found myself fully able to articulate the process. And even armed with all of this information, all of this practical experience, when it came to devising the next show, Revolutions, I only occasionally found myself consciously applying these insights in the devising process. Sometimes I would discuss neural maps and the like with my co-creators. Sometimes I would sit and think through the scenography in these terms. But I never tried to build the show explicitly from these principles.  In retrospect, however, I see that Revolutions can be considered a demonstration of Gibson’s theory of surface perception. A major feature of the show was a dozen 8’ x 8’ wooden walls on casters that were employed in a number of ways with the deliberate intent of confusing the attendant’s sensorimotor perception. I briefly discussed this during the process, but it was just one of many concerns. Others included the company’s deep interest in Jane Bennett’s theory of vibrant matter and the possibility of working with other-than-human materialities in a manner 89  that doesn’t presume mastery over those materialities. My co-director had been working with panels as far back as der Wink, long before hearing about my interest in Gibson. Jay White, an animator, visual, and performance artist, brought his interest in other-than-human materialities to bear on the selection of materials used, and on our decision to leave the wood panels raw. Sound designer Nancy Tam was mostly concerned with the acoustic possibilities of the panels. Choreographer Delia Brett thought through the panels as dancing bodies. The interest in objects as equal playing partners, something that was central to Steppenwolf, developed into objects as “actants” in Revolutions.  Director Steven Hill had been interested, for some years, in foregrounding that which is usually backgrounded in theatre — the scenery. My interest in Stein’s theory of landscape performance pushed this a little further. In giving the scenery equal status with the human figure, the attention shifted to the affects and “agency” of other scenographic elements. We had begun, with Steppenwolf, to think of everything as an object, including actors, text, light, and sound. Actor Sean Marshall Jr., who has performed in the company’s last four shows, has been adept at giving himself an object-like status in performance. The shift from more traditional acting styles is in keeping with thinking of the actor as a “presence effect” rather than a psychological agent of “meaning effect.” Thus meaning arises from spatial relationships. The body becomes an overlap of surfaces revealed and obscured through light, movement, and sound. The concepts of neural maps and sensorimotor access come into play regarding the human body as much as they do regarding nonhuman bodies. This approach becomes part of the trans-disciplinary thinking of the group: neuroscience, landscape play, choreography, sound design, vibrant matter, etc. Some of it was very conscious during the process, some only fully understood after the fact.  90  I wrote the chapters on Steppenwolf after the production concluded in 2015, but before Revolutions was mounted in 2016. So I had a chance to reflect on the way theory influences practice and practice modifies theory, and then to dive back into practice. My conclusion, as I have noted above, is that this type of work does not lend itself easily to overly programmatic preparation. Nor does it result in easy to identify knowledge outcomes that can be carried forward. Rather, it expands frontiers of research through transdisciplinary thinking: an attitude, an openness to the input of others and to in-the-moment discovery, which is a cornerstone of so much theatre practice, even conventional theatre practice. To work in an egalitarian manner with a group of co-devisers is to both contribute one’s ideas, hunches, and knowledge, and to constantly let them go when the ideas of others arise. The writing of this dissertation, which has taken place over a number of (too many) years, has followed a similar path in relation to new discoveries made during reading, making, or attending. It has shifted. In order to make it manageable and readable, professor Robert Gardiner, one of my committee members, suggested I establish a guiding principle for each chapter. This was good advice. While the dissertation is concerned as a whole with embodied cognition of a scenographic environments, each chapter establishes a guiding principle, such as the neural map, conceptual blending, or Gibson’s theory of surface affordances, and tries to explain the relationship between attendant and performance design in these terms.  91  Chapter 3: Theoretical frameworks: cognition and perception  3.1 Neural maps and conceptual blending A basic premise of this dissertation is that an attendant (any person, for that matter) embodies performance space (and any other space) as neural patterns25 — individual neuron cells ‘firing’ in concert (at the same time or in a particular sequence) with a number of other neuron cells. I contend that it is through such neural embodiment that we make performance space meaningful, and that such meaning-making is a physical process of the patterning and constant re-patterning of neural maps and pathways. Hand in hand with attendant embodiment of a performance goes the design of the performance space by the artists who make it. Artists create at least some, and in many cases most, of the conditions for attendant embodiment of a theatrical performance. To argue for embodiment is to say that we are nothing other than our bodies (notwithstanding the possibility of spiritually transcendent states, which I will try to leave out of the argument). It is impossible to have a disembodied experience of a performance environment. “What we call ‘mind,’” writes Mark Johnson when stating the central thesis of The Meaning of the Body, “and what we call ‘body’ are not two things, but rather aspects of one organic process, so that all our meaning, thought, and language emerge from the aesthetic dimensions of this embodied activity”                                                 25 One of my committee members, Peter Dickinson, offered another way of putting it: “We are able to discern spatial patterns through neural embodiment.” I like this description because it beautifully encapsulates the theory. In this instance, however, I have stuck with “embodies performance space through neural patterns” because I want to get the idea of neural patterns and neural maps across to the reader. 92  (1). By “aesthetic dimension,” Johnson means “qualities” of experience in the sense that philosopher John Dewey puts it: experiences come to us whole and can be assigned single “pervasive” qualities — that meal, that sunset, and so on (Johnson 72-76). Included in Johnson’s broad category of aesthetic dimensions are “images, patterns of sensorimotor processes, and emotions” (1). We come to performances as whole, physically undivided beings, beings that make sense of performance in the way we do because of the bodies we are:  Concepts like front and back . . . arise from the body, depend on the body, and would not exist if we did not have the kinds of bodies we have. The same is true of fundamental force dynamic schemas: pushing, pulling, propelling, supporting, and balance. We comprehend these through the use of our body parts and our ability to move them. . . . (Lakoff and Johnson Philosophy 36) Not only do we perceive things the way we do because we are human, but our personal perceiving is unique because each of us is physically unique and has a unique socio-cultural biography. Even concepts do not exist as floating quasi-objects in a disembodied theatre of the mind. They are based on sensorimotor experiences and are understood bodily. No body, no concept.   In support of my thesis of neural embodiment of scenography I begin with two ideas: the neural map, and conceptual blending. The first, the neural map, is an ‘internal’ (inside my body) analogic correlate of the ‘external’ world (outside my body). To say a neural map is analogic is to say neurons ‘fire’ (exchange neurotransmitters between cells) in our brains and bodies in patterns that, to a certain extent, analogically preserve the spatial relationships of whatever is occurring outside of our brains and bodies (Johnson 127). If it is a visual or spatio-motor map, it will represent an experience topographically. If it is an auditory map of, for example a melody, 93  the firing of neurons will occur in a sequence that preserves, tonotopically, the upward and downward movement, on a musical scale, of the notes (Levitin loc. 441). As Johnson argues, the map is not a representation, in the conventional sense, of the external world. Rather, it has the structure of the external world (Johnson 131).26 For example, if you are looking at a child running toward a swing in a park, neurons in the parts of your brain that process visual information and motion will fire at distances from one another that preserve the spatial relationship of the child to the swing, as well as the dynamic motion of running in that particular environment (Barsalou 618-19).27   Neural maps are patterns of neurons that fire in concert with other patterns, which can collectively be called a ‘cluster’ (I will often describe a pattern as a map). Neurobiologist Antonio Damasio uses the term neural “image,” for the sake of convenience, to describe maps whether they are visual, auditory, tactile, or other  (Damasio 55). He feels that patterns and maps, whether they are of one sensory mode or another, are basically the same thing. Johnson also uses                                                 26 “Internal” and “external” are imprecise ways of thinking about embodiment since neurons and neural pathways do not occur ‘inside’ the brain but are part of what makes up brain matter, the spinal cord, and other parts of the body. However, it is hard to avoid using these terms without resorting to long-winded alternatives. I will discuss the issue further below. For now I offer this footnote as a reminder that we — as minds or selves — do not reside somewhere within our bodies, and nor do our minds reside somewhere within our brains as Rene Descartes believed (he went so far as to suggest the mind or ego is located in the pineal gland at the center of the brain) (Wiles 4). As Johnson argues, we are undivided bodyminds (Johnson 11), or as Lakoff and Johnson put it: “The mind is inherently embodied” (3).  27 Barsalou’s explanation of this is contained within his theory of “simulation,” to be discussed below. 94  the map metaphor to describe the analogue-like structures that ‘represent’ experiences (Johnson 127-30). Others make a distinction between how a visual pattern is organized — based on map-like spatial organisation — and how an auditory pattern works — based on changing firing strengths of individual neurons within a cluster (Lee and Groh 4). It may be that the auditory pattern is not exactly arranged according to the logic of a topographical map. The map metaphor might apply best to visual stimuli, while another metaphor may be needed to describe auditory patterns. In any case (a map or something else) the neuronal firings are considered to ‘represent’ the experience as an analogue. Another common term used to describe auditory maps occurring in the auditory cortex and other regions of the brain is cochleotopic due to the fact that initial “coding” of sound occurs in the cochlea in the inner ear (see Striem-Amit et al.). Both terms, tonotopic and cochleotopic, refer to the manner in which sound waves are received by the eardrum, transferred through fluid media to the basilar membrane in the cochlea, and are subsequently transmitted as electro-chemical signals through various processing areas in the brain stem and the auditory cortex.  The second concept that will be useful in understanding how individuals make sense of the genre-spaces created for the Leaky Heaven and Fight With a Stick performances is conceptual blending. The basic idea of conceptual blending is that imagination is necessary to create new knowledge. Here imagination means combining two or more mental input “spaces” to create a new “space” that keeps some features of the inputs but results in a novel “blend” that has features not found in the inputs (Fauconnier and Turner 40).28 For example, in To Wear a Heart                                                 28 To be clear: a “space” in conceptual blending does not refer to an actual space but rather  a ‘mental’ space, an idea or image, represented by Fauconnier and Turner as a schematic. They explain how 95  so White the audience is asked to take the inputs, “church congregation” and “community hall,” and other input spaces such as “witches’ coven” to create the blend, “I am a witch in a religious congregation invoking a spell.” (This is just one of many ways one might describe the inputs and the blend in this particular show.) Fauconnier and Turner (henceforth usually F&T) note that these input spaces and the resulting blend are neurologically grounded: “In the neural interpretation of these cognitive processes, mental spaces are sets of activated neuronal assemblies, and the lines between elements [in the authors’ diagrams] correspond to coactivation-bindings of a certain kind” (40). They mostly discuss spaces as mental concepts. I will extend their logic to actual spaces in order to show how the mental and the material combine neurologically to create meaningful experiences.  In both the analogic map model and the conceptual blending model, memory is a major factor in helping an individual make sense of what she is encountering. Experiences form neural patterns. During new encounters, past experiences in the form of neural maps, or patterns of neural firing, are activated so that we can categorize and re-categorize. We activate an existing pattern to understand an experience that is familiar; and we combine existing patterns in a way that allows us to create new patterns that may eventually become familiar. Conceptual blending describes this combining of patterns in mostly non-neuroscientific terms.   3.2 Feeling space through sensorimotor perception of the surface layout When discussing conceptual blending, Fauconnier and Turner often use images, such as                                                                                                                                                        we combine these ideas or images to create new ones, related to but different from the inputs. I will explain this further in Chapter 6. 96  advertisements in magazines, or descriptions of hypothetical situations that emphasize visual features. Their examples tend to fit nicely with the concept of the neural map for two reasons: (1) We tend to think of maps as visual representations that circumscribe an area (Lee and Groh 1); (2) Visual neural maps can be read, to an extent, as topographical representations of spatial relationships (Striem-Amit et al. 1). I have noted, above, that tonotopic maps are different from visual maps. You might say that they represent relationships in time rather than in space — one neuron fires after another. I describe the way a melody rises and falls the same way I might describe the way the slope of a hill rises and falls (Johnson 250-53). However, to describe sound as a map is to translate an aural experience, which is a sequence of sound waves and therefore an experience that requires duration, into the visuo-spatial terms of a map, which can be apprehended all at once.   But there is still logic to the idea of a topography of sound: the way sound waves move through the cochlea in the ear, and particularly the way they trigger “hair cells” in the basilar membrane, can be considered topographical. High pitches trigger hair cells at locations on the membrane nearer to their entry point into the cochlea and low pitches trigger others further along (Levitin loc. 441). There is a spatial logic to the manner in which the hair cells are laid out and triggered. Once activated, these cells send electrical signals through brain stem areas to the auditory cortices in the temporal lobes of the brain, where further neuron cells fire in particular patterns that are organized spatially and sequentially (Lee and Groh 10; Schnupp et al. 90). The neurological interpretation of seeing and hearing functions can be localized to specific areas of the brain, but is also partly distributed across brain regions. Neurons communicate with other neurons, and patterns communicate with other patterns, forming clusters that communicate with other clusters. While a map may be a simplification of the three-dimensional nature of a neural 97  pattern, both are schemas of how neuronal firings interpret, or rather are the brain’s interpretation of, space. Through complex coordination of the firing of various patterns we are able to understand the spatial nature of what we see and hear  — we spatialize the visual and the auditory with such pattern firing.   But what is it that makes a space feel dense, or a sound feel sparse? Why might a low ceiling feel oppressive and, in popular music, crunchy power chords feel aggressive? Neuroscientist/musician Daniel J. Levitin argues that we make sense of music by translating tones and dynamics into terms of human emotion — slow can mean sad, high notes can mean happy, fast can mean excited (loc. 1417). We rise and fall with pitches and rhythms. To hear music is to embody it through the formation of neural patterns. You could say these patterns are our emotions, or that they are part of the cognitive apparatus that make emotion and the naming of emotion possible.   This logic can be extended to space. A place, whatever its dimensions, must also be put into human terms, or scaled in terms of our own bodies, for it to be comprehensible. To put this another way, is it even possible to speak of a place without considering human occupation of it? Is it possible to imagine an “empty” space without first having imagined ourselves in it, and then absent from it? How do we make sense of distance? We can look into a valley, a canyon, a plaza, or a room and say it is empty (meaning there are no humans in it). But how do we make sense of its dimensions, its depth, height, and width? We can assign abstract measures to it such as millimeters, meters, and kilometers, but how do we understand a meter without measuring it against ourselves, or against an object that we have measured against ourselves? How do we understand a kilometer without travelling at least some portion of it? We develop the feel of a space and a distance by moving through it or projecting ourselves, imaginatively, into it. The 98  imaginative projection makes sense by referencing a past sensorimotor relationship to an actual space and actual objects. This reference helps us give space proportion (it feels that big or that small) and distance duration (it takes so long to get from here to there). Beyond a certain personal threshold, numbers and distances mean nothing. Or we make them mean something by shrinking them in some way, shrinking the “infinite” universe to a size we can make sense of.   Concepts related to sensorimotor access come into play — how we understand dimensions, distances, and qualities of space through bodily sensation and potential for physical action. The term sensorimotor contains the words sensory and motor. Brain anatomy defines three general areas that the word sensorimotor refers to: the premotor cortex, the primary motor cortex, and the somatosensory cortex. These areas lie next to one another on the cerebral cortex in the above order. The premotor cortex is involved with preparing and executing limb movement, and is argued to also be involved with social cognition (empathy) and imitation (learning). The primary motor cortex initiates movement; various areas in this cortex correspond to specific body parts. The somatosensory cortex receives tactile information carried to the brain through neural pathways. Although these three areas are somewhat discrete on the cerebral cortex, sensorimotor theory, particularly as discussed in Noë’s “enactive” approach to embodied cognition theory, tends to treat them as interdependent.   In traditional perception theory a stimulus input is received and computed by the brain, resulting in an action output: the visual stimulus of a ball approaching is received and computed; somehow the ball is represented as an image, an orientation, and a thing of discrete qualities (texture, colour, hardness); the brain then delivers an action output, instructing the body to catch the ball. There is no direct connection between stimulus input and action output — they are mediated by a representation in the brain of the incoming ball. In the enactive sensorimotor 99  version of perception, perception is a direct coupling of sensory awareness and skillful action. The oncoming ball is understood because the perceiver has the physical skill to catch or avoid the ball. Meaning is action based. Content (the ball as a catchable or avoidable thing) is the result of environment-subject coupling. The environment provides opportunity, an “affordance” in Gibson’s terms, that the subject exploits. But the subject can only exploit the opportunity if she has the skill to do so. If she has no skill at catching, avoiding, marveling-at, and so on, the incoming ball has no meaning, no content that can be understood. Thus sensory awareness and motor action are integrated in sensorimotor perception.29 Noë summarizes as follows: The world makes itself available to the perceiver through physical movement and action . . . Perceptual experience acquires content thanks to our possession of bodily skills. What we perceive is determined by what we do (or what we know how to do); it is determined by what we are ready to do.” (Noë Action 1) Sensorimotor perception is not a matter of passive reception of stimuli constructed as representations in the brain.  Jacob and Jeannerod (henceforth J&J), when discussing visual perception, argue for two related but somewhat separate visual subsystems in the brain: a visual perceptual subsystem and a visuomotor subsystem (J&J Ways 136). In the first subsystem, visual percepts (things perceived) “serve as input to higher human cognitive processes, including memory categorization, conceptual thought and reasoning”; In this subsystem images are created for recognition. In the second subsystem, “Visuomotor representations serve ‘human action’”;                                                 29 For more on the “enactive approach” and sensorimotor perception, see Noë, Action in Perception 4-7 and throughout. 100  Images are created for physical manipulation (45). These are the two ways we visually represent the objects we see and manipulate. A visual percept becomes a thought — a thinking about; a visuomotor representation is for action.   J&J’s hypothesis offers a representational model of seeing. Percepts are extracted from the whole and reassembled as a picture-in-the-head, which is then interpreted by a mind that observes the picture. Most of the research J&J use to support this view strongly suggests that the two subsystems can be dissociated from one another. For example, a lesion to a relevant cortical area can disable one or the other mode of seeing, resulting in remarkable situations in which an individual is able to recognize an object but unable to grasp it, or in which a individual can manipulate an object or physical process without being able to identify it.30 This dissociation suggests that seeing and doing are somewhat discrete processes in the brain. While the two visual systems can be dissociated through such disabling, they normally tend to work together.31                                                 30 Noë argues that the clinical research does not support the possibility of dissociation (Varieties 90). 31 J&J, generally support the two systems visual model, but also acknowledge that it is incomplete, and that object recognition and spatial perception of objects in relationship to one another require not only the coordination of the two systems, but of further visual systems that help to account for complex situations with many objects in a visual field: “Visual cognition appears to be far more complex than previously suggested by the current models opposing either visual object perception and space perception or perception and action. These models, which originated from the double dissociation paradigm [one visual system becomes dissociated, due to a lesion, from the other visual system; this can go in both directions], attempted to match a given aspect of visual function onto a given anatomical subdivision of the cortical visual system. The double dissociation paradigm, however, appears to be of 101  Nevertheless, they create representations for different purposes. The second system, the visuomotor system, is the one that is most in line with Noë’s enactivist theory of sensorimotor perception. Noë also acknowledges that representations have some role to play, in the form of what he calls “content bearing internal states” (2). Chemero simply argues that pictures-in-the-head are probably useful for certain things, such as remembering someone or something that is not there, but have no use during action-oriented activity. Action-oriented activity, as discussed by Noë, is nonrepresentational. However even when we speak of representations we have to be careful to remember that a representation — a pattern of firing neurons — is not a thing that somehow exists as a discrete entity to be viewed by a brain/mind from an equally discrete viewing location. A representation is a neural structure that is part of the brain, interwoven with other structures that communicate with it. We do not and cannot observe our brain structures from within. We are our structures and we experience the world as our structures.  3.2.1 Gibson’s theory of visual perception Perceiving-for-action is a concept that is critical to my analysis of most of the case studies in this dissertation, particularly as it relates to psychologist James J. Gibson’s theory of visual perception. Gibson, whose work has become canonical for many theorists of embodied cognition, including Noë and Chemero, discusses seeing (and sometimes other senses) in “ecological” terms. By ecological he means that seeing is not just a matter of light rays                                                                                                                                                        limited value when the number of the terms of the dissociation is greater than two. Clearly . . . there are more than two kinds of human visual representations and more than two visual systems in the human brain” (Visual 10). 102  stimulating photo-receptors in the eye, but the active experience of an entire physical animal situated in a natural everyday environment (as opposed to a lab) looking around at, and moving through, its surroundings. Because what we see is light reflected off of surfaces (everything from a wall to moisture particles in the air), Gibson’s theory of visual perception can be boiled down to our physical relationship to the surfaces that surround us. The arrangement of surface distance, size, shape, colour, and texture provides sensorimotor affordances. Affordances provide opportunities for, or obstacles to, action, including seeing, moving, hearing, touching. Our potential for action is based on our ability or skill to act on the “affordance” an environment provides. It is our skill that makes surfaces and spatial arrangements meaningful. For example, my ability or lack of ability to jump over a fence gives the fence a certain meaning (for me), as do other things about it.32   Gibson’s theory of surface perception helps to define scenographic parameters as they pertain to vision as a whole-body system of seeing, and to the visual-kinetic action of sensorimotor perception. In the coming chapters I will try to show how the work I have done with my theatre company attempts to exploit the attendant’s natural tendency to understand the performance design as a field of physical action potential. I assume the attendant will activate her                                                 32 Chemero argues that it is not so much a matter of the environment providing affordances, but of a match between perceptual skill and affordance. We perceive affordances when we have sensorimotor skill that can act on/with the affordance (This is almost identical to Noë’s argument above). Environment and self are interdependent. This is not to say that the environment has no objective existence, that it does not exist if we lack skill to act on it. It means, rather, that we are unable to make sense of that which we cannot interact with (Chemero “Outline” 193). 103  sensorimotor skills, while at the same time, for the purpose of creating new perceptual states, I disrupt her ability to apply these skills. If we accept that sensorimotor perception is a way of perceiving for action, and that the field of this action is Gibson’s layout of surfaces, we further our understanding how an attendant embodies scenography. She looks at the layout and feels the potential for action — for moving to and around things, grasping things, feeling textures, and so on. For example, in the “Pacing” scene from our production Steppenwolf (discussed in detail in Chapter 5), we use the projected light of digital images and conventional lights, in combination with surfaces such as mirrors, cardboard flats, velvet curtains, transparent plastic sheets, and walls to reveal and obscure actual pathways for movement. If we literally shed more light on the Pacing scene, the attendant will be able to identify affordances with confidence. If she were to get up and walk into the performing areas, she would be able to climb onto the stage, move around the flats, feel the velvet curtains, part them, and walk to the next set of curtains, and so on. She would be able to embody all of this, through sensorimotor perception of surfaces, without actually doing it. She already has the neural maps required to understand the situation bodily. However, the Pacing scene is not brightly lit. Due to the scenographic composition, including dim lighting that makes the edges of surfaces unclear, her ability to clearly understand the affordances on offer is compromised. To add to the confusion, it is unclear which parts of what she sees are three dimensional and which parts are two dimensional projections. Thus sensorimotor perception of the surface layout is a key theoretical factor in discussing how an attendant embodies scenography.  3.3 Metaphor theory, memory, and performance conventions I turn to Lakoff and Johnson’s metaphor theory, grounded as it is in cognitive psychology and 104  cognitive neuroscience, to explain how we come to develop our neural maps through past experience. My hope is to create a compelling explanation of how we develop sensorimotor skill over time in the form of neural maps, how we update or do not update these maps, and how these maps of our spatial relationships to the world come to define our likes and dislikes (skill and lack of skill) of performance conventions.   We initially develop our understanding of spatial relationships through early childhood sensorimotor development. Neural patterns that “represent” experiences fire each time we experience something new, and are updated when doing so. So memory — the formation of past neural patterns — is crucial. Memory is also a dynamic, active process, in the sense that it is constantly reforming, if only slightly, with each recall. This is connected to current notions of brain plasticity. Neural pathways can die off, become dormant, or become re-activated; and completely new neural connections can also be made (Barsalou 625-26; Johnson 127-30). A pattern gets established and then re-patterned. The new pattern is based on or related to the old pattern, and therein lies some level of continuity.33 Instantiation (something that becomes a                                                 33 Damasio argues that continuity of the conscious self is possible due to the brain’s creation of mental maps that represent the body and its parts (92). These maps are there for the purpose of monitoring the body and maintaining homeostasis (keeping you alive and away from life-threatening disease). They can be considered a “neural double” of the body that is part of the body (38). For this reason there is a tight “physiological bond” between these maps and the bodily processes they represent (98). There is no such physiological bond between the mental maps that represent the body’s interactions with the outside world. In Damasio’s view maps of the outside are actually maps of the body’s interactions with the outside; the map “records the multiple consequences of the organisms [i.e. a human being] interactions with the entity [things, people, in the outside world]” (132). From this I would conclude that the 105  somewhat reliable neural pattern due to the repetition or intensity of an activity) of patterns makes them meaningful. You know how to skip rope because you have done it before. You may get better or worse at skipping rope depending on how the original pattern gets reformed. Patterns may change more or less from individual to individual. An activity that we undertake only once, one that has no trauma or thrill or survival value associated with it, will likely take on no significance for us in the long run. We need to repeat something in order for neural patterns to become instantiated.  In terms of performance conventions, let’s say you have seen dozens of mainstream, Broadway-style musicals. The narrative structure is similar from one production to another. The musical structure is similar. The acting style is familiar. The lighting design is typical — the same intensities of light, the usual colour gels, the same sculptural side, back, and top lighting from show to show. A familiar vocabulary of jazz-dance-inspired choreography is common to them. These patterns become ingrained in you. When you watch such a show, neural maps fire up, helping you recognize and categorize the experience, and giving you a sense of satisfaction                                                                                                                                                        continuity element regarding maps of external experience will not be as strong as the sense of continuity one gets from the brain’s maps of internal experience. Unconscious simulation/recall/activation of internal, “interoceptive” mapping (97) will be more accurate and consistent than conscious or unconscious simulation/recall/activation of external experience. Damasio goes on to say that the communication between map and sensory experience shuttles through the upper brain stem. If specific parts of the brain stem are damaged, for example due to a stroke, the information flow will cease and the individual will enter a vegetative state in which the brain will continue to produce maps but the self will have no awareness of them. In fact there will be no “self” to be aware of anything since self is a function of the communication between neural maps and sensory input (161). No information flow, no self. 106  when the familiar pattern is fulfilled. If the musical theatre formula is handled well, there will be a moment or two of surprise, when the formula seems in danger of disruption, or when it has been altered slightly. If the level of challenge is just right, you will enjoy this alteration and update your patterns (Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi 95).  Let me offer an alternative scenario: One day you go to a performance inspired by installation art and American minimalist musical composition. There are no characters in the traditional sense. There are people who speak and move, but they do not display psychological depth, nor do they conform to comic or dramatic character types. They are treated somewhat like objects. There is no dramatic arc, and therefore no satisfying fulfillment of the typical 19th century well-made play or modern movie narrative pattern. The music does not swell at the height of the dramatic arc because there is no dramatic arc or peak. There is no story, really, just a sequence of events. There may be no separation of space between performer and spectator. The space may be lit by fluorescent tube lighting, or everyday household lamps, or video projectors, or candles. Perhaps it is a large scale production like Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach. The mood is contemplative. The motion of performers and objects on stage is slow. The music cycles in rhythmic and harmonic layers that almost repeat but never do (Glass qtd. in Einstein). Rather than a dramatic arc, there is rhythmic and harmonic accumulation. There is no Einstein, just a violin player who has been made to look like Einstein. All he does is play the violin. There is no beach, just a stage landscape that evokes other spaces and ideas but is never really trying to be anywhere other than where it is — a performance hall.  Or perhaps you are attending a small-scale production like Leaky Heaven’s der Wink. You sit in a chair for the entire show and experience sonic and lighting shifts. Four by eight foot cardboard walls are moved in and out around you, constantly changing the architecture of the 107  space. You get glimpses of very short scenes occurring through the maze of walls. Again, no obvious dramatic arc, not much in the way of characters, and no story except on a meta-level. If your experience of theatrical performance consists of mainstream musicals, or even mainstream drama, the narrative pattern completion you are accustomed to will not be fulfilled at either Einstein on the Beach or der Wink.34 These shows will mean nothing to you — they will not become instantiated as repeatable neural firings. You may leave the performance wishing never again to be subjected to such an event. Or, perhaps, something has struck a chord. Perhaps there was something that had just enough in common with past experiences to trigger a sympathetic response. A new pattern is beginning to form, one that repeated exposure to such events will make more meaningful to you.  Performance theorist and theatre historian Di Benedetto summarizes the potential of new patterning: “The greater the exposure we have to a particular stimulus, the more pleasurable it will become; its familiarity forges habitual pathways within our brain” (133). The first time I heard a complex jazz composition I was baffled. But something about the time and place of left a trace in me. I remember listening to an FM radio station of Minnesota-based, jazz fusion guitarist Steve Tibbets at 2:00 in the morning, and feeling both mystified and intrigued. The tonalities and time-signatures were unfamiliar, but the environment, time of night, the deep timbre of the DJ’s voice and the superior fidelity of the FM signal felt like an invitation, almost an embrace.                                                  34 I have offered here a rather polarized example between the high- and the low-brow for the sake of argument. In some cases the starkness of this depiction will hold true. In others there will be much overlap. The point is that familiarity is dependent on skill level or on acquiring skill — familiarity breeds appreciation (or contempt). 108  Tibbets’ music would become, for me, inseparable from that context. The second time I heard it, the totality of the first listening was recalled. Guitars and tabla, yes, but also automobile interior, vinyl dashboard, metal-and-plastic radio dial, deep night on the city streets, and early morning fatigue. Also, the complexity of the music began to make more sense to me. I began to feel the melodic and rhythmic patterns. By the third listen, what had been alien was now a deeply meaningful pattern inscribed in my neural pathways.   Now if a theatre artist wants to mess with that deeply ingrained pattern, my habitual response to Tibbets’ music, he might challenge me the way Marcel Duchamp challenged the art world with his Fountain piece (a urinal placed on plinth in a gallery), or the way Brecht challenged his audiences with the V-effect, or the way countless performing artists mess with their audience’s expectations by de- and re-contextualizing objects, styles, and performance conventions. Let us say a bunch of jazz aficionados, fans of Tibbets, are at a warehouse performance of some kind, drawn by promotional material that says the guitarist’s music will be featured. The warehouse artist is a neo-punk rocker who thinks we are pretentious, elitist relics of another era. He wants to shake us from our rarefied estimation of the artist and his educated, music-school approach. Like the original punks back in the late 1970s, he feels we are killing the rebellious youth spirit of rock ’n’ roll by filling the airwaves with music that is overly virtuosic.   Or maybe he just wants us to hear it afresh. And maybe, given our age and the year in which this guitarist’s music was originally released, the punk knows most of us had our first exposure to Tibbets on an FM radio station which we likely listened to in a car. So he puts a car-stereo in a room lit brightly by fluorescent tube lights, with no car around it, and no bucket seats. Maybe he has added a really powerful klieg light, the kind used by filmmakers to create the impression of daylight, and its intensity just punishes the detached car radio. Maybe he has 109  nailed the radio to a white-board and surrounded it with scribblings that describe the music theory behind the composition, or even codified the guitarist’s improvisations, making them seem more like mathematical calculations than creative inspiration. This might be hard to for me to take. It is unrelated to my neural patterns of listening to Tibbets, including the tactile and atmospheric memories of being in the car during my first listening, except in a way that disrupts them. Have I become closed-minded? Possibly.  Using the logic of Lakoff and Johnson’s metaphor theory, a metaphor such as “I am closed-minded” can only make sense if I can access the sensorimotor relationship that gives rise to a “container schema” (Philosophy 31-32). To feel my mind as closed, I have to imagine it as a container with no openings. In the past, most likely during my infant and toddler years, I came to understand that there are things like boxes that can be locked shut, and hollow cubes that you cannot put things into and cannot get things out of. A mind is not a thing. It is a concept, an imaginary location to which we assign ‘consciousness’ or ‘awareness.’ I have to give it object-hood in order to make sense of its being “closed.” Or I might think of my mind as a brain, and that brain as a container with possible openings, but all of them locked. In order for the metaphor to have even greater emotional resonance, I might think of the container as a room or a closet, one which is permanently shut. If I am shut in, I cannot get out (and may not want to), and no one can get in. There are many different versions of a container schema. The point is that the metaphor, a linguistic abstraction — “I am closed-minded” — has to make a connection to a past physical experience for it to make sense.   Think of the metaphor “time is passing.” Time also is not a thing. It cannot actually pass you. To make sense of this abstraction you need to access a past experience of being in a stationary position and watching an object move past you. It moves away from you, into the 110  distance. You are losing contact with this object — the past. Or something like that. Lakoff and Johnson’s argument is that there is a physical foundation to metaphor — metaphors are embodied. An example of a time metaphor they use is “Time flies.” In this, time has the “subjective judgment” of “the passage of time”; it accesses the “sensory domain” of “motion”; the “primary experience” is of “Experiencing the passage of time as one moves, or observes motion” (Lakoff and Johnson Philosophy 52). Metaphors such as “I am closed-minded” and “time is passing” are spatial concepts. They make sense, as opposed to being arbitrary arrangements of letters and words, because I can access actual sensorimotor-spatial relationships when I think of them. These past experiences — you might call them active memories — allow me to relate to current spatial encounters in a way that triggers my history of neural spatial patterning. There is no such thing as a psychosomatic tabula rasa. I come to a space with my established patterns.   The difficulty in encountering my favourite music in a radically different context is that all the meaning I have built up over the years, in other words the neural patterning that has become ingrained in me, is dependent on how the features of the music — tempo, rhythm, melody, harmony, timbre, and so on — are interwoven with past sit uations of hearing or remembering the music. The music is always related to space, actual and remembered. Because the space the neo-punk has created is so radically different from the usual spaces in which I listen to or remember Tibbets’ music, because it is actually an assault on my memories, I feel the firing up of the usual pattern blocked or radically challenged. I am being asked to repattern in a radical way. In a sense I am being asked to change the meaning of the music. It is hard to do because I have invested so much in that pattern.   When Marcel Duchamp exhibited a urinal in an art gallery in 1917 and called it Fountain 111  he challenged patrons to think of it as art. It did not fit conventional categories of art. For someone who has embodied art as paintings in nicely made frames, and who is entering a gallery with the expectation of firing up the neural patterns that conform to that category of art, seeing a urinal instead of a painting poses a physical challenge. You do not get offended in the mind. You get offended in the bodymind. Or you adjust. As Di Benedetto puts it: “Only by disrupting the brain’s expectations can we begin to learn” (Provocation 131).  Above, I referred to linguistic metaphors as abstractions that made sense by reference to sensorimotor experience. I described these sensorimotor experiences as relations between a body and objects in space. But that is not a very complete explanation of how words or ideas get into the body. The activation of patterns/memories is multi-modal. Visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory patterns combine to create maps of experience that become instantiated/meaningful. What makes the word “daffodil” meaningful? You can touch and smell the flower as someone assigns the word daffodil to it. The situation in which this happens will contribute to the meaning. Are you encountering it outside in a field or garden? Is it a peaceful setting on a sunny day? Is it raining and cold? Is it in vase in a kitchen? Is it your kitchen or someone else’s? Let us say you are two years old and your mother is introducing you to a daffodil. She guides your nose to it and says, “Daffodil.” The quality of her voice will become bound up with the meaning of the word daffodil and of the flower itself. You will embody the qualities of scent, touch, the weather, and your mother’s voice when you think of a daffodil. This meaning will change over time with subsequent encounters with the flower and the word. Neural patterns will be updated each time. Thus, our ability to make sense of current situations is largely dependent on sensorimotor neural patterns we have built up in the past. We are able to describe these patterns in terms of metaphor because the linguistic structures are bound up with felt 112  spatial relationships developed over time. These metaphor/spatial relationships also come to define our skill level at recognizing performance conventions and accepting new ones.   3.4 Simulation, memory, and complex metaphors “Grounded Cognition” is an umbrella term used by cognitive theorist Lawrence Barsalou to group several theories of how knowledge, conscious and unconscious, is a neurologically embodied response to sensory stimuli. I refer to it here in order to avoid giving the impression that embodied cognition in neuroscience has been narrowly defined according to what I have described above. There are many ways of approaching embodied cognition, neural patterning, and representation/nonrepresentation. These matters are far from settled. Barsalou summarizes many (not all) approaches that relate to the cognitive theories I have been discussing in this chapter. One of the key terms in his summation of these theories is simulation. We simulate that which we see, hear, and otherwise experience by activating analogic neural patterns from various sensory modalities (thus “modal”), each of them partial “representations” of the stimulus, or rather partial simulations of the stimulus. These partial simulations work together to create a more complete representation:  As an experience occurs (e.g., easing into a chair), the brain captures states across the modalities and integrates them with a multimodal representation stored in memory (e.g., how a chair looks and feels, the action of sitting, introspections of comfort and relaxation). Later, when knowledge is needed to represent a category (e.g., chair), multimodal representations captured during experiences with its instances are reactivated to simulate how the brain represented perception, action, and introspection associated with it. (Barsalou 618-19) 113  We rely on past categories to re-cognize. When we embody space we embody it in a multi-sensory way. According to Barsalou, each modality operates discretely, to an extent, to abstract features from an experience, such as a texture, shape, colour, or temperature, but the modalities also work in concert to create a coherent reception of the experience. Artists create coherent spaces. Even artists who attempt to create fractured or discontinuous spaces do so in a way that results in a particular quality of fragmentation or discontinuity. Artist X’s performance of fragmentation is different from artist Y’s, and each has arisen out of the artist’s very particular aesthetic of fragmentation. Receiving things as a whole does not mean we are unable to attend to particular details within the whole. But as cognitive theorists will argue, we are able to attend to only a very few things at one time. The vast majority of our cognitive activity occurs automatically and unconsciously. While I am attending to the colour of a rose petal, I am unconsciously taking in the whole flower and much of its surroundings (Noë would say that the surroundings are perceptually present and available to me even though I may not be focusing on them at the moment).  In Barsalou’s terms, such cognition is “modal” (618-19). While the parts of my brain that fire when taking in visual experience are active, other “modes” are also active. The motor areas that have to do with moving to and sitting in the chair fire up, adding to my understanding of the perception, which might now be called a perception-action. It is an action because I call up neural maps of past chairs to understand the new chair. In a related “situated action” theory, the perception is an action because we are goal-oriented creatures; we call up memories in order to “reflect the nature of bodily actions and their ability to mesh with situations during goal pursuit” (Barsalou 623). “Mesh with situations” means being able to grasp things, move around them, and otherwise cohabit with the material world around us. Calling up the memory of past movement 114  allows us to recognize movement potentialities, so the perception-action model uses memory as a way to predict or plan future action. The perception is a simulation because I am simulating the current chair ‘out there’ with the neural-map chair ‘in here.’ How quickly this happens, how quickly I can categorize the new chair as a chair, depends how closely the new chair conforms to patterns I have of past chairs, and vice versa. If the new chair is very similar to past chairs, I will recognize it as a chair more quickly than if it is very different. The level of matching between new chair and past chairs will influence how I make meaning of the new chair (625).  The same goes for human facial recognition. I will recognize the face of someone who is familiar to me — as a face and as a familiar face — more quickly than I will recognize the face of someone who is unfamiliar to me. Because no two encounters, with either a chair or a face, will be identical, I will update my neuronal patterns to develop my understanding of what a chair or face is. Through repetition, chairs and faces become meaningful to us. From such basic sensorimotor foundations, we create more complex and abstract patterns of recognition or of novel thought. Internal structures are not limited to reflecting current stimuli (i.e., the chair that is currently before you). Rather, basic sensorimotor structures are the architecture upon which we build more complex and abstract structures (Pezzulo et al. 7). It seems we can combine internal structures to develop abstract concepts. (I will use the model of Conceptual Blending to discuss this in Chapter 6.) Simulation is another way of discussing how ‘internal’ structure reflects ‘external’ structure.  It may be worth stressing again that what we call internal and external in the context of body and environment has validity in the sense that each of us has a unique body and that body has a coherent physical identity. Emotion and thought arise from a continuity of mind and body, as well as organism and environment coupling. In the Cartesian view mind exists somewhere 115  within or above the body, as a kind of theatre in which object-like perceptions are paraded before a perceiver who is separate from them (Johnson 113; Wiles 4). In this view the mind is “internal,” and the body is “external” to the mind. So the mind is a perceiver not only of that which is outside the body, but also of processes that occur within the body, being somehow ontologically separate from those processes. In the Cartesian view we are able to retreat into a domain of mind that is able to contemplate itself and the world in a detached, disembodied manner.35  Embodied cognition theory rejects this view. We make meaning of the world in the way we do because we have the kinds of bodies we have. Pezzulo et al. make the point that those of us with greater atypicality of body will produce meaning that is atypical: “Embodied representations are shaped by physical constraints of an individual’s body. These sensory-motor experiences are structured according to physical principles that provide the grounding of cognition. Therefore, unusual bodies create unusual minds” (Pezzulo et al. 4). Based on their physical shape and genetic heredity, frogs, owls, and humans create different types of neural maps (Johnson 127-29). Each species produces different “meanings” from its coupling with its environment. Each individual within a species is also unique. A short human will interact with the world differently than a tall human. They will produce neural maps that are unique to each of them. Neural maps can grow in complexity, allowing for greater abstraction and finer detail. Johnson describes it this way:                                                 35 Curiously Damasio’s neurological theory of internal mapping (the brain creating neural maps of its own body) provides a conceptual basis for Descartes’ dualistic philosophy. Of course, the brain is embodied and material, not residing in a transcendent place such as mind or soul. 116  . . . sets of visual, auditory, and somatosensory maps . . . map perceptual space in fairly direct analogs — preserving topologies of pitch, the retinal field, color, the parts of the body, and so on. But subsequent maps preserve increasingly abstract topological structure (or even combinations of structure), such as object shape, edges, orientation, direction of motion, and even the particular degree of the vertical or horizontal. Like the frog, we live in the world significantly (but not totally) defined by or maps. Topologically speaking, our bodies are our minds. Our ‘minds’ are processes that arise through our ongoing coupling with our environment. Mind is in and of this embodied experiential process, not above it all. (130; italics original)  The non-dualistic process of embodiment means that we do not “experience the maps” (we do not observe our neural maps in a theatre of the mind), but rather we “experience a structured world full of patterns and qualities” through the maps (130).  3.5 Maps of unknowing and embracing uncertainty Implicit in theories of embodied cognition is that we map in order to identify and categorize, in order to know the difference between a table and a chair, and crucially, from an evolutionary perspective, to be able to distinguish predator from prey or poison from nourishment. Embodied cognition is how we know things. The question that arises then, in regard to theatre practice, is why would so many artists choose to deliberately destabilize and confuse the attendant? Why not offer surety of perception? Why not confirmation of culturally established patterns? In an attempt to answer this I develop a hypothesis: the map of unknowing. This is a map that does not quite cognize, that allows for unsettled neural pathways that do not quite coalesce. I do not mean to suggest that a neuron somehow fires and leaves its electro-chemical charge suspended in 117  space, between one synapse and another. But if during a performance I feel a quality of suspension, and if this quality offers neither the satisfaction of resolution nor the feeling of disappointment at the failure of resolution, there must be a neurological correlate of this quality.  It may be a matter of neurons trying to form patterns, coming apart, and reforming at speeds that even the brain cannot decide upon, so to speak. A feature of consciousness, according to evolutionary biologist John Mallat and psychiatrist Todd Feinberg in The Ancient Origins of Consciousness: How the Brain Created Experience. is being able to weigh pros and cons and come to a compromise solution. I suggest that the indecision that comes before decision may occur as a process of uncertain neural patterning (This is discussed in more detail below in relationship to the theory of neural reuse). To use a term employed by both philosopher Gumbrecht and theatre theorist Fischer-Lichte, an “oscillation” occurs that cannot be resolved for the time being. For Gumbrecht the oscillation is between “presence effects” and “meaning effects.” A presence effect is a spatial relationship. Significance is to be found in, or rather is the effect of, the materiality of the relationship. Gumbrecht “conceive[s] of aesthetic experience as an oscillation (and sometimes as an interference) between ‘presence effects’ and ‘meaning effects’” (Gumbrecht 2). A meaning effect is the way we think about and assign meaning, usually in linguistic form, to events. There is always an oscillation between the two effects. Similarly Fischer-Lichte speaks of an oscillation between that which is materially present and that which is imagined; the performer body, whether a human or a set piece, and that which in illusionistic theatre the body is supposed to represent — a character, time, and place. Various types of theatre performance put the emphasis, through scenographic composition and the like, on the one or the other. To some extent there is always, even in the most illusionistic theatre, an oscillation between that which is materially present and that which the performance is asking you to 118  imagine. In most of the theatre performances I study, the emphasis is either equal or it is tilted toward the material — the presence effect. When this relationship is handled by a company like Socìetas Rafaello Sanzio and director Romeo Castellucci, the oscillation between material and imagined becomes so difficult for the attendant to maintain that a kind of personal fracture occurs: she cannot seem to make the material and the imagined resolve as one ontologically coherent phenomenon, and the resulting awareness of self and situation that occurs once the attempt is given up, leads to a state that Fischer-Lichte describes as an awareness of one’s own extraordinary ordinariness, a “reenchantment” with the world (Fischer-Lichte Transformative (181-207). (And here it must be said that it can also lead to utter disenchantment with the performance.) This oscillation between presence/material and meaning/imagined states, is given more layers through cultural theorist and dance artist Erin Manning and philosopher and political theorist Brian Massumi’s discussion of “neurodiverse” and “neurotypical” types of awareness. In their essay “Coming Alive in a World of Texture,” autistic perception is explored as a model for a non-instrumentalized way of encountering the world. The autistic mode of seeing is called “neurodiverse” (a term borrowed from the autism rights movement) (Manning and Massumi 8). You perceive the world as a field of texture in which any “texture,” be it a colour, a voice or a scent, can arise or recede without being made subject to the normal hierarchies experienced by the “neurotypical” (Manning and Massumi 6, 18). The neurotypical tends to take an instrumental view of what is around her — cups are for drinking, roses are for smelling, you should pay more attention to the person speaking directly to you than to the colour of that patch of grass by the curb. Neurotypical perception is about sorting what we see for sensorimotor access: the drapes are to the left and right, the pathway is through the middle.  119  Conventional theatre tends to serve the neurotypical impulse. Cause and effect relationships of narrative and character development tend to line up like dominos, each plot point or character decision tipping into the next. The play-script organizes the director’s choices, the actor’s movements, and the scenographic setting that supports narrative progression, sequential psychological states characters are put through, and so on. Neurodiverse perception, temporary or habitual, sees other relationships as equally or more valuable. I offer Manning and Massumi’s concept of neurodiverse perception as a way of describing what might happen for an attendant as a result of Fischer-Lichte’s or Gumbrecht’s notions of the oscillation throughout the case studies. Anderson’s theory of neural reuse and interference — the same neural assembly attempting to undertake two perceptual tasks at the same time and thus creating perceptual interference — adds neuroscientific support for the oscillation (discussed below).  Although the binaries described here do not line up perfectly, we can say in general that on the one side of the oscillation we have spatial relationships and material presence, and on the other thinking about and imagined elsewhere. Intense oscillation between these can result in neurotypical awareness (a sense of knowing where things are and what they are for) giving way to the heightened sensitivity of neurodiverse awareness (all things flowing together). Fischer-Lichte’s theory of “reenchantment,” in the form of heightened awareness of self and other, fits the neurodiverse model: there is no single focus, but rather a heightened sense of intersubjectivity. There is object clarity but it is one of intersubjective awareness of self and other, and of self, other, and world. Neither subject, other, or world is instrumentalized in this state of awareness.  Concepts of neural reuse and neural interference, support the idea of oscillation. Neural reuse means a single brain region or a common coalition of neural patterns can be used for 120  different perceptual tasks. For example, neurons that are used for motor action can be used for motor perception. Neurons can change their function for the short or long term. (This is, incidentally, another way of describing neural plasticity). It is efficient for the brain to use the same systems for different tasks, but one consequence of neural reuse is interference (Anderson After 30, 37,41). When a group of neurons tries to simulate an action at the same time it imagines an action, the first task (simulating) can interfere with the second (imagining), and vice versa. We switch back and forth — oscillate — between tasks without being able to settle on one or the other. An artist can simplify a situation through timing: he can separate the invitation to simulate from the invitation to imagine by prompting one task before the other. Or he can intensify the oscillation by making the two invitations at one and the same time.   There is a further point to be made regarding uncertainty of self and other as a consequence of the process of oscillation between perceptual states. When an artist presents an audience with phenomena that cannot be easily identified with, such as pathways that might not be pathways, frames that are not actually frames, objects that cannot be anthropomorphized or made familiar, or, as in the last case study examined in this dissertation — Socìetas Rafaello Sanzio’s Paris.#06 — a half horse that cannot be made whole, the attendant can either reject the phenomenon as meaningless, try to make it conform to a familiar category, or willingly enter a different mode of perception. Philosopher Emmanuel Levinas’ concept of “the trauma of astonishment” provides another way of discussing the latter, a self-opening process of oscillation. Traditional theatre puts great emphasis on audience identification with a representation of a character: I adopt the other’s perspective, metaphorically changing places with him (Roesch-Marsh 309). There is an intersubjectivity at work that, according to Husserl the founder of phenomenology, makes the other an alter-ego, a knowable other self (308-09). However, when we are faced with something 121  that does not affirm a stable sense of self we can be left in a state of uncertainty (Roesch-Marsh 311-12). Unable to reconcile sensory affect with rational understanding, we are shaken open. Neural activity remains in flux. Perhaps this flux will also, in the long term, come to be instantiated as a map — not a map of unknowing, but a familiar map of flux. And so the artist begins again, seeking further aesthetic disruptions of the attendants’ sensorimotor sureties.   122  Chapter 4: Making sense of sound in Leaky Heaven Theatre’s To Wear a Heart so White: neural maps, ear anatomy, auditory mechanics, memory, neural reuse  4.1 The performance composition, genre expectations, sound design A theme that will recur in this dissertation is that perception is active. Listening, looking, touching, smelling, tasting, reaching, moving — these are the kinds verbs that best describe the act of perception. We are not passive perceivers. This means the concept of the passive spectator, a term commonly used to describe theatre audiences, should be reassessed. “Passive spectator” describes a very general physical situation in which a fairly inert body is restricted, by convention and social contract, to a theatre seat. As the various theories of embodied cognition referred to in this paper contend, even in such a restricted situation, we are perceptually active. We do not simply receive sensory stimulus from our environment — we pursue it, meet it, and shape it. We not only actively perceive, we do this in collaboration with our surroundings. The situations we are in present opportunities for perception, and we take advantage or do not take advantage of these opportunities.  We pursue perceptual opportunities in a given situation ripe for sensory engagement. To speak of being in a situation or collaborating with surroundings is to suggest a degree of immersion. I describe the kind of performances my company makes as immersive theatre installations. Like passive spectator, immersion also suggests passivity: one is submerged, surrounded, enveloped, and so on. It is useful for a performance maker to think in this way. During all of the performances described in this dissertation, the attendants are seated, most of 123  the time. They have been situated within a deliberately composed space and immersed in sound and light waves coming from all directions. But it is a mistake to equate being restricted to a physical location with perceptual passivity. Perception is a kind of pursuit. Theatre scholar and phenomenologist George Home-Cook cautions, however, in Theatre and Aural Attention, that active perception and immersion are ideas that need unpacking.   How does an attendant actively perceive when immersed in a 360 degree performance design? Below I will try to offer an explanation using the case study of To Wear a Heart so White (Leaky Heaven Theatre). I will refer to concepts of neural mapping, ear anatomy, the physics and biology of the transformation of mechanical sound wave to electrical signal in the brain, theories of how cross-modal sensory ‘collaboration’ (mostly auditory and visual, but also tactile) influences the ability to perceive and spatialize sound, architectural and phenomenological theories of immersion and atmosphere, and sensorimotor metaphor theory as it pertains to the way spatial relationships are made meaningful over time. The intent is to show that, (1) neuroscience — auditory, visual, and multi-sensory, in alliance with theories of embodied cognition, can offer new ways of understanding the affects of scenographic composition; and (2) scenographically-minded theatre artists and scholars can use this understanding to enhance their creative and analytical practices.    A further word on the concept of immersive theatre may be in order before moving on, specifically how the term relates to sound and atmosphere.  “We exist in an atmosphere,” writes Home-Cook, “’a sphere of vapor’, within which we are inescapably ‘immersed’. Furthermore, this ‘atmosphere’ is filled, indeed flooded, with noise” (131; italics original). This description suggests, again, a passive recipient acted upon by sound. But Home-Cook stresses throughout that there is a “push-pull” between sensory affordances, such as existing noise or deliberately 124  designed sound, and the perceptual action of “stretching,” as he puts it: stretching to meet and take advantage of an affordance (149). “Being in sound, like being-in-the-world,” he writes, “does not consist of a static, passive and spherical existence, but is characterized by a dynamic, ongoing engagement with any given sonic environment: sound is sounded” (131; italics original) (by “sounded” he refers to the way sonar or echolocation is as much a sending out as a receiving). Architect Peter Zumthor, in his published lecture Atmospheres, argues that we grasp the atmosphere of a place all at once: “I enter a building, see a room, and – in a fraction of a second – have this feeling about it” (Zumthor 11). However, while the atmosphere is greater than the sum of its parts, its particular quality cannot exist without the parts:  Coherence [is] the idea of things coming into their own, of finding themselves, because they have become the thing that they actually set out to be . . . when everything refers to everything else and it is impossible to remove a single thing without destroying the whole. Place, use and form. The form reflects the place, the place is just so, and the use reflects this and that (69).  An atmosphere emerges from the things of a place, the temperature, light, and, of course, sound:  Listen! Interiors are like large instruments, collecting sound, amplifying it, transmitting it elsewhere. That has to do with the shape peculiar to each room and with the surfaces of the materials they contain, and the way those materials have been applied. Take a wonderful spruce floor like the top of a violin and lay it across wood. Or again: stick it to a concrete slab. Do you notice the difference in sound, of course. (29)  Not only does the shape of a room lend itself to an atmosphere, so does the shape of a human body moving through space, the shape of a sound wave striking the ear drum, the shape of the inner ear, the shape of an electrical signal’s lightning quick journey through nerve fibers in 125  the brain. So let me begin by describing a performance situation, an atmosphere determined by the shape of a room and the things in it: the opening of To Wear a Heart so White, performed by Leaky Heaven Theatre at the Russian Hall in Vancouver in 2014, a show in which I was a deviser and scenographic adviser. I will explain, in stages, how the obvious material things encountered such as floors, walls, and chairs, and less tangible things such as sound and light, find expression as neural patterns.  To Wear a Heart so White The audience enters the main hall through double doors on the north side. The hall is a large space reminiscent of a mid-20th century elementary school gym, with a hardwood floor and a raised proscenium stage at one end. Faux wood paneling to the height of about eight feet runs around the perimeter. Above it, an expanse of wall covered in an off-white plaster meets a dropped ceiling high above — an aluminum frame grid with lightweight tiles, the sort of ceiling that is commonly found in office buildings. Metal-frame chairs with wooden seats and back-rests have been grouped into little islands facing in toward an open space at the center of the hall. Red velvet curtains have been drawn across the front of the raised stage at the south end. The light is warm but a little dim due to the inadequate number of pin lights from above, the few conventional stage lights, and the fact that mist from a hazer has been diffused throughout the room.   The attendants have been instructed by ushers to proceed to an altar on the west side of the hall where they are to light a candle and place it before “the ancestor of your choice.” They find their choice strictly limited: there are five portraits of British naval explorers, including James Cook and George Vancouver. Each attendant makes his or her choice, then finds a seat. Once the 126  attendants have taken a seat in one of the chair groupings, a recording of a church choir welcoming all to build a house of love — “All are welcome, all are welcome in this place” — is played. The company members walk in procession from a side door into the hall in single file. I lead the procession, swinging a censer made of blue glass. Incense sticks have been smoking on the altar for some time. The censer thickens the air a little. Behind me are the other performers, including four actors (two adults and two young girls), the lighting and projection designer/operator, the sound designer/operator, and the script dramaturge (mother of the two girls). We are dressed in everyday clothes. Actor Lois Anderson arrives at a pulpit that has now been placed on the west side of the audience circle. Actor Sean Marshall Jr. and I circulate, smile benignly at the patrons, shake a few hands, and express various types of welcome: “Great to see your faces here,” “Wonderful to see you tonight.” We take our places at the south end of the circle.   Anderson then effects a tone and manner of speaking she remembers ministers using when she attended United Church meetings in the past: “We welcome you into this place. Come, You’ve got yourself here this evening — you’ve had your dinner, you’ve washed the dishes, paid the babysitter, paid for transit, walked, biked, found parking, and have entered this building, this hall. Come, Lay aside the cares of the day, the morning, the week, the cares and woes of this weary world.” The recording of the choir singing “All are welcome” now shifts to a Gregorian church choir. Anderson informs the audience they will soon be reading with her from the “order of service,” a small pamphlet that has been placed on their chairs. “We will bring our voices to this place,” she says. She asks everyone to turn to page one, where they will find “the invocation.”   Laughter runs through the hall as people recognize that the invocation consists of excerpts 127  from the witches’ speeches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Anderson asks the audience to rise. She then begins a call-and-response chant as “Leader,” to which half the audience responds as “Voice 1,” and the other half as “Voice 2.” “When shall we three meet again,” Anderson begins. Voice 1 responds, “When the hurly burly’s done, when the battle’s lost and won.” The call and response continues in this manner and intensifies until the hall is shaken by amplified recorded thunder and strobic lightning flashes. “Peace! The charm’s wound up,” declares Anderson. The thunder and lightning cease, replaced by the sound of rain. ______________________________  Up to the point described the show has presented one atmosphere. The devisers have constructed the performance as a sequence of such atmospheres, or scenes, which were referred to, for convenience, as genre-spaces: genre because each scene referenced one or more known performance genres; space because we devised each scene as a dialogue between spatial arrangement and genre — a live theatre performance takes place in three dimensions, and a theatre genre always suggests a spatial arrangement. For convenience the devisers called one space “church congregation” (the area in which the audience was seated in islands of chairs facing in), and the other “proscenium stage.” Situating the audience in and shifting between this and other atmospheres was the major devising concern for the company. Some of the factors that create the first Church Congregation atmosphere are:  - Size of the big hall. - Textures that show the wear and age of the room: o  A worn hardwood floor, old wooden chairs, dingy off-white walls, old carpet at the entrance. - Nearness and farness of things. 128  - The smell of the room: o A combination of wood polish, old curtains, humans, dust, haze from the hazer. - The sounds: o The odd indefinable mix of designed sound creating a strange acoustic ambience (to be explained in detail below). o The chatter of fellow patrons. - The dim feel of the room: o Low lighting combined with haze creating a soft focus feel. The tangibles (walls, etc.) and intangibles (sound, light, smell) combine to make the room seem bigger or smaller. They clarify or obscure the things in the room and their spatial relationships. They create an atmosphere that is felt immediately. On entering the room the attendant will take all of this in, but as noted above, this taking in is also a reaching out (stretching). A perceptual pursuit of sensorimotor meaning-making has begun. In truth it began the moment the individual woke up in her bed and has never once stopped during the day. But perhaps as she enters the hall, with awareness that she is also entering a prepared performance space, her senses will be on alert. From the artist’s point of view sensory preparedness is there to be manipulated.   What is being manipulated, in terms of cognitive neuroscience, are the attendant’s ever-changing neural formations. Of the many ways to discuss how neural activity is a crucial expression of embodied cognition, I will employ the metaphor of the neural map, and the concepts of neural simulation and neural reuse. An attendant simulates her surroundings through the activation of maps, patterns of neural firing throughout the brain (and down the spine and into other parts of the body), that have been instantiated due to previous experience. These patterns are not absolutely fixed and, as new body-to-environment experiences are had, they can 129  change significantly. But what we call memory is a consequence of a certain level of stability of these patterns over time. We might say a memory has a lineage. It is not an exact replica of the original experience. That experience is the ancestor. Each generation of the memory is related to, but different from the ancestor. Some memories are very similar to the ancestor memory, and some seem only distantly related. When an attendant simulates a situation, she activates instantiated, multi-sensory neural patterns to make sense of what she currently encounters. As discussed in reference to simulation in the previous chapter, if her patterns find a ‘match’ with the situation, she will understand it readily. If they do not, she will begin to alter her patterns. New meanings will be made. If she is unable to find any points of compatibility between her existing patterns and whatever is perceptually on offer, the situation may offer her nothing.  What is on offer as she enters the main hall? The first thing she might notice is the size of the room. The main hall is much larger than the rooms she has travelled through so far — first a rehearsal studio-turned-bar upstairs, then an enclosed narrow staircase that travels from the bar to the foyer, and then the foyer itself. As she enters the main hall she may activate patterns for hall, room, and container. The felt sense of the hall’s size will be modified by the dim lighting and the hazer mist. The furthest upper and lower reaches of the hall will likely be out of focus, altering the attendant’s sense of the size of the room. Her sense of space will be significantly influenced by the sonic environment created by sound designer Nancy Tam. There is no clear rhythmic pattern or tonal center to the sound design. And no directional clarity: sounds move rapidly between eight speakers distributed about the periphery of the space, creating a sense of instability verging (for some) on vertigo or nausea (Leaky Heaven Talkback: To Wear a Heart so White). This affects the attendant’s sense of the dimensions and stability of the room. Her neural maps will communicate with her auditory maps (which will sometimes be one and the same map 130  — see below) to sort out the parameters of the space. There is probably enough visual information for the spectator to match the current hall with image schemas of halls or community centers she has previously been in.  Acoustically the situation is more challenging. In the previous chapter, I described the way sound waves of different frequencies are translated into musical pitches when they trigger hair cells on the basilar membrane that, in turn, send electrical signals to the auditory cortex where “tonotopic maps” (or “cochleotopic maps”) are formed. The absence of a recognizable musical key, or tonal center,36 has the potential to disorient the attendant. “Pitch,” writes Levitin, “is so important that the brain represents it directly; unlike almost any other musical attribute, we could place electrodes on the brain and be able to determine what pitches were being played to a person just by looking at the brain activity” (Levitin loc. 441). Schnupp et al., in the textbook Auditory Neuroscience: Making Sense of Sound, concur: “. . . pitch is essentially independent of sound level . . . of the spatial location of sound,” and is “to a large extent, independent of the relative levels of the harmonics [timbre] composing it” (101).   Another important feature is timbre. When we encounter a song, a composition for an                                                 36 “Tonal” is a quality that describes the relation of several tones (expressed in music notation as “notes”) to what is called, in a western musical key for example, the “tonic.” The tonic is the pitch to which all other pitches are related to a musical key. For example, a C major scale has the note ‘C’ as its tonic. A series of notes are considered to be tonal if there is hierarchical ordering in relation to the tonic. For example, the ‘G’ note in a C major scale has a powerful relation, based on the overtone series (notes that resonate in certain frequencies with the tonic) and cultural convention, to the ‘C’ note (Schnupp et al. 94; see also Pritchard 20-21). If a series of notes have weak relations to a tonic note, they may feel atonal.  131  orchestra, or the sound-design at the beginning of To Wear a Heart so White, we try to make sense of it by calling up past experiences of songs, symphonic compositions, and sound designs. We attempt to categorize what we are hearing. Neural patterns for pitch, rhythm, meter, tempo, and timbre work in concert to identify what we hear. Such categorizing is easy to do when we hear something culturally familiar like “Happy Birthday.” In North America most people will easily identify this as a “song,” and as a song sung at birthday celebrations. Along with this will come a set of expectations regarding what typically happens at a birthday celebration (presents, cake, the attendance of friends and family, etc.) (Levitin loc. 1772). When tested, most people can easily recognize this song, even when it is transposed from key to key, sung by different voices, played by different instruments, and at different tempos (loc. 2319). We create neural patterns for the pitch relations. As long as those relations are preserved to an identifiable degree we will recognize the melody of “Happy Birthday.” The same is true for any song that is familiar to us. We can also easily reproduce such songs with surprising accuracy of pitch and tempo. Even individuals who consider themselves non-singers can do this. When asked to sing a canonical pop song such as Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” people will, without access to the recording, sing it in the correct key and tempo (loc. 2336). They will also be able to categorize it according to style, genre, and era. One of the reasons for this accuracy has to do with timbre recognition.  Timbre is the result of the overtone signature of a voice, an instrument, an object, and other phenomena. When an object vibrates — for example, when a string is plucked, or a metal pot or block of wood is struck — it produces one or more frequencies (Schnupp et al. 41). If the frequencies are related as integer multiples (of Hertz or Hz, see below), we will perceive a particular pitch. All naturally occurring pitches produce overtones. The strength of these 132  overtones affects our perception of the timbre or tone quality.   Our vocalizations operate by the same physics. We push air from our lungs at our vocal cords, which then open and close producing sounds, some of which are recognizable as musical notes. Depending on the configuration of the vocal tract, certain overtones will come through clearer than others (41). The relative strength or weakness of overtones issuing from a particular material (metal, wood, human tissue) is one of the key factors that make a C tone from a pot sound different from a C tone from a block of wood.  Timbre, writes Levitin, “is the most important and ecologically relevant feature of auditory events” (loc. 704). If I pluck a D string on a guitar, you will hear the fundamental — the D — and, less prominently, the overtones. These other tones will be higher than the D and related to it in specific multiples measured in Hertz (abbreviated as Hz) (loc. 756-841). Hertz are equivalent to the number of times a guitar string, for example, oscillates back and forth per second after being plucked. A string that oscillates 100 times per second has a frequency of 100 Hz. 100 oscillations or Hz would be the base note. The first overtone above that will be roughly an integer multiple of it: 2 x 100 Hz = 200 Hz. It will go up in 100s of Hz, with the next overtone at 300 Hz, 400 Hz, and so on. Each of these overtones will be less prominent than the fundamental, and together they will create the timbre that allows you to hear them as, say, a D note and not an F note.   As I wrote above, one of the things that makes a D played on a saxophone recognizably different from a D played on a piano is that, while the overtone series is roughly the same in 133  terms of Hz, the loudness of each overtone is different according to the materials37 that make up the instrument. So the third and fifth overtone of one instrument might be louder than the third and fifth of another (loc. 1233). This goes for voices, too. You can easily tell the difference between your mother’s and father’s voices based on the uniqueness of timbre — in other words the loudness and quietness of the overtone series particular to each of their voices. You can easily tell Michael Jackson’s voice from Paul McCartney’s, and McCartney’s version of “Yesterday” from someone else’s. Despite the uniqueness (timbre signature) of each version of a song, you know you are hearing a version of that same song and not a completely new one — your ability to create neural patterns that preserve pitch relations, tempos, and rhythms ensures this. You can change the singer, the tempo, the instrumentation and still recognize that you are hearing “Yesterday.” To a degree, you can also change the rhythm while preserving the pitch relations, but only so much before it becomes unrecognizable. You can slow the tempo, but only so much before the space between pitches and duration of each pitch (the rhythm) become too vast for the listener to be able to connect one pitch to another as a coherent melody. It is partly due to timbre that we can pick one voice out from others in a crowd, or zero in on one sound                                                 37 The term used in auditory neuroscience for “materials” such as wood, metal, earth, plastic, etc., is substrate: “. . . different substrates for sound propagation may be more or less stiff, or more or less heavy, than air, and these differences will affect the speed at which sound waves travel through that substrate” (Schnupp et al. 41). Understanding this principle is crucial for a sound designer and extremely helpful for co-devisers creating a performance design. Because sound is both all around us (sound waves bouncing off available materials/substrates at different frequencies) and directional (coming straight from a sound source), it matters which materials we populate a performance with and where we place them. 134  among many in a room full of competing sounds. The implications of this for a sound designer, is that she can tinker with timbre, along with volume and pitch, to make a sound stand out from a background of sounds, or, as Tam did in the opening sequence of To Wear a Heart so White, she can manipulate various sound sources in such a way that their timber ‘signatures’ are so similar they are hard to distinguish.  We are able to categorize the types of musical sounds we hear based on categories we have developed over time. If you have heard recordings of 1930s jazz ensembles in the past, you will be able to distinguish the style and era of those recordings from jazz that was recorded in the 1960s, partly based on a timbre signature that has to do with the instrumentation used, the recording technology (types of microphones used, for example), the types of rooms the recordings were made in, and so on (loc. 2393). A category will not necessarily remain static. If your definition of jazz is defined by the Big Band Swing of Benny Goodman, and then John Coltrane is introduced to you as jazz, you might update your category based on what the philosopher Wittgenstein called family resemblance: we put things in the same category if they share enough common features, but there is no single feature that absolutely puts them in that category (Levitin loc. 2151). And the category can change. For example, Goodman’s and Coltrane’s bands both play brass and percussion instruments, both have a foundation in blues structure, both use the syncopation that is characteristic of swing. Or you may drop Goodman from your category based on other considerations: the clarinet was no longer a common feature in jazz by the 1960s, jazz was no longer danceable, the harmonic range employed played by Coltrane and his contemporaries extended much farther from a given tonal center than did Goodman’s, and so on. In either case you will come to a particular sound event with a set of expectations.  135   When Levitin argues that genre and style are nothing other than personal expectation, he is, as a musician and as a theorist of neuroscience, also making the argument in terms of neural patterning. A listener will activate existing neural pathways to make sense of and categorize what she encounters. These formations will be multi-sensory. Each attendant will make a personal decision as to whether a show fits her idea of the genre, according to the principle of family resemblance. The parts that make up a musical composition can be temporarily isolated for purposes of creation and analysis, but even if we extract something as specific as a tone heard, subjectivity of categorization is inevitable. According to Schnupp et al. pitch is not exclusively a property of sound. While a musical instrument or computer program can produce a specific tone, how that tone is perceived as a specific pitch is a subjective judgment of the listener, who relates the tone to other sounds and decides it is of a higher or lower register (Schnupp et al. 94).    In the type of immersive performance I make and analyze, genre and style are that much harder to define. This is because a number of genres and styles are mixed, and because pointers such as character and narrative are less important considerations than space, landscape, and atmosphere. No two creations follow quite the same pattern or conform to an existing template. However, if you see enough of these shows you will start to notice common features, patterns, rhythms and tempos. Each is the consequence of the creative approach and theoretical concerns of the artists. For example, during the creation process of To Wear a Heart So White, director Steven Hill focused the group on having the building play the show, rather than the show playing the building. Space was at the forefront of our considerations in a number of ways, articulated as dramaturgical questions: 1) What space are we suggesting at a given moment? Is it a fictional space? Is the Russian Hall during a particular sequence supposed to evoke another space-time, 136  fictional or historical, or is it supposed to ‘be itself’? What part of the hall do we currently want the audience to attend to? When should the space feel communal and co-created? When should the audience feel like voyeurs? When should they forget themselves and get lost in a fictional illusion? When should they be most aware of themselves as materially present? When are we getting too drawn into the narrative of Macbeth, or the congregational church space? When are we spending too much time in the proscenium-arch, viewing experience? A group of artists working together over a number of productions will likely start to develop an aesthetic vocabulary that will, to a certain extent, produce a recognizable style. One of the key visual factors that has recurred in different ways over the past four shows I have worked on with the company is the frame. This is explored in detail in Chapters 5 and 6. Another consistent feature is placing the audience within the performance apparatus so that things happen on all sides. And there are recurring sound design features that grow out of this, such as: ambient vs. directional sound, tonal vs. atonal, and deliberate confusion regarding whether objects are producing a sound or whether a sampled, composed, or altered digital sound is mimicking the sound the object would naturally make.   When considering acoustics, natural and designed, one must pay attention to how the architectural features of a space enhance or suppress sound. Each new element introduced into the space will alter acoustic dynamics to a small or large degree, including the introduction of spectators, the clothing they wear, and the sounds they make. For Nancy Tam, sound designer for To Wear a Heart so White and all Leaky Heaven/Fight With a Stick performances since 2013, the interest in a space is not limited to the architectural shell, but includes all things in it, as well as people: “How do we mobilize people within the space? Do people need to be mobilized? When I conjure different spaces and sound, I’m thinking about those things too.” Tam had 137  initially resisted director Steven Hill’s request to create something of a “dreamscape” for the opening. She felt that this was a cliché approach to justifying an abstraction:  But then I kind of went with that as taking that meaning of the word, and what does that mean to me. Dream? More interesting is how we fall asleep, how we go from one state to another. Which is kind of what the whole show for me was about, how we go from really well-timed transitions to deliberately not well-timed transitions. And I thought about the feeling of being coddled, like a blanket, and like a pillow, like a soft pillow, and I thought I’m going to build something that has those sensibilities for me. (Tam)  In composing for the opening section of To Wear a Heart, Tam chose to build an octophonic sound system to surround the audience: eight loudspeakers evenly spaced around the audience. Sound, like vision, occurs wherever you happen to be. Sound waves travel through air, with different levels of force and frequency (see below), and reflect off available surfaces. For an attendant, they converge where she happens to be located. The opening section was such that a design had to be created for individuals who first moved from the entrance to the altar, to whichever chair they chose, and then to whichever chair in whichever seating area they chose to occupy, seating areas that were spread widely across the hall. Thus the sound design had to work for a great many standing and seating positions. Attendants would always be facing some speakers while some were behind them or at oblique angles. There was no privileged listening location. Sounds issuing from a given speaker would travel both directly at a given attendant and also reflect off all surrounding surfaces and back at them. The materials/substrates of the hall, described above, lay somewhere on a line between highly resonant to not very resonant. Thus an ambient sound design was chosen, one that would take advantage of the standing and seating arrangement. 138   In the last chapter I referenced Gumbrecht’s theory of oscillation between presence-effects (meaning arising from materials and spatial relationships) and meaning-effects (meaning arising from semantic/linguistic content). In creating a sound design that works with the existing resonance capacities of the hall, Tam focuses on presence-effects. But in our work, we also deal with meaning-effects. We go between intense focus on materials to rethinking “themes.” Our intent was to destabilize the settler-colonist narrative in British Columbia (or rather, further destabilize it, as the process has been well underway for some time, and is picking up pace). One of the tactics for doing this was creating a church-like atmosphere that included an altar at which one lights a candle to a British explorer, rather than to a Christian icon. In placing the explorer in the position of sacred colonial deliverer of a promised land, the attendant is implicitly asked to think about her place in this official historical narrative. By superimposing the Christian church schema on the historical narrative, we were attempting to force a difficult blend of concepts (see Chapter 6 for a detailed explanation of conceptual blending and its application to Steppenwolf). We did this in several ways that amplified embodied engagement. Upon arriving at the Russian Hall the attendant had to walk a journey from the front of the building, around the back to a concrete staircase, up two stories to and through the back door, into a makeshift bar (the rehearsal studio), down an enclosed staircase, into the lobby, and through double-doors into the main hall. As she entered the main hall she encountered a space that was far larger than any of the interior spaces she had traversed so far. The acoustic environment of those spaces had been markedly different from the expanse of the hall — the relative ease of locating sound sources in the smaller spaces was replaced by auditory dispersal. The same was true of the visual environment, due to the way hazer mist and dim lighting obscured the shell of the room.  Part of the inspiration for this walk was David Wiles’ description of “the sacred way” in 139  ancient Greek theatre (Wiles 64-67). As an Athenian made his way from the agora to the theatre, he would travel a circuitous route known as the sacred way. He would pass sculptures of gods and ancestors. The twisty route was such that one could not look very far ahead or behind. While moving toward a destination one had to consider the stops along the way. For the Athenian the journey was one of re-affirming a cultural narrative. For To Wear a Heart so White we wanted to create a journey that threw all parts of our settler-colonist narrative into question. We wanted to do this in a way that was not so much about representing complications through protagonist and antagonist character conflict, but by making each spectator a protagonist attempting to negotiate a shifting perceptual experience. The spaces travelled through bodily were part of this negotiation. Thus the attendant, likely already aware of the contentious nature of the colonial narrative, makes her way, through the rooms, to the altar where she is confronted with a very stark and limited choice: not affirmation in the form of spiritual redemption, but a question —  British naval explorer she will choose as her ancestor? Whether she chooses one or none, she is forced into a dialogue with an undeniable fact of her residency on unceded Indigenous territory. She is here, at the theatre, and in the city and country, as a consequence of European colonialism and the brutal encounter between disparate cultures.   For the artists to restate this historical fact within a theatre performance would be didactic. Since the political mission of Fight With a Stick is to address socio-cultural issues through perception and form, the meaning-effect — the “content” — is ultimately made subordinate to the presence-effect. In order to unsettle the attendant’s sense of surety, with regard to body-in-place/space, the procession described above was created. Any theatre performance is, even when a fictional elsewhere is invoked, an experience of the material theatre itself. Merleau-Ponty, a phenomenologist who studied neurobiology and is seen by some cognitive theorists such as 140  Kauffer and Chemero to be particularly relevant to studies of embodied cognition, argued that “space” becomes “place” through lived practice (Kauffer and Chemero 103-5) . That is, a space becomes meaningful through habitual use. This is true for our daily journeys to work, a hike in the country, or a night at the theatre. Audiences that attend performances at the Russian Hall, and especially those that attend Leaky Heaven/Fight With a Stick performances, have made space into place through the lived experience of repeated attendance. On the one hand our audiences are accustomed to alterations of the scenographic configuration with each performance. On the other, they never know quite what to expect. It is never a matter of simply taking a seat among consistently fixed seating and looking in the direction they looked last time. In creating a version of the sacred way, we attempted to both affirm the attendants lived experience of a theatre place, and to re-make that experience.   Nancy Tam’s sound design contributed powerfully to the presence-effect during the opening of To Wear a Heart so White. Tam used recordings from three very different sources to achieve an ambiguous sound space. These were: Tibetan monks chanting, My Country by Czech composer Bedrich Smetana, and me reading the press release for the show. These three recordings were run through a software program called Granulator,38 which is a feature of Kenaxis, a program created by Vancouver software engineer, sound-designer, violinist, and composer Stefan Smulovitz. Granulator allows you to take a portion of a sound file and apply various parameters that alter things like the duration and pitch of the extract. Tam: “What happens is that it picks up bits and pieces of the [sound] files, and then I could say, ‘Oh I want at                                                 38 For a demonstration go to: http://www.kenaxis.com/movies/Granulator.mov. The link works best with the search engine Google Chrome. 141  least three different bits to be playing at the same time, and I want them to be no longer than a thirtieth of a second.’ Just really short files” (Tam). The shortness and somewhat arbitrary selection of sound bits challenges the listener’s ability to discern a melodic pattern or harmonic continuity. The mixing of sources that are unrelated, tonally, confuses the acoustic environment even further. The timbre and tonal suggestion of one source clashes with another. “Yeah,” says Tam, “it is unsettling in a way because of the process of the treatment of the source, the granulation; because you’re picking little bits of recording. So literally, technically, that is what we heard.”  Another factor that made the experience spatially disorienting is that the blended sounds were made to ‘travel,’ through live mixing, from speaker to speaker around the hall. As Tam puts it, people tend to try to create a story out of what they hear. They also try to find the tonal center of a musical composition. Tam deliberately resisted this so that audience members would pay more attention to the spatial surroundings and to their own presence within it. This search for a stable, categorizable sonic atmosphere, and the blocking of that search, throws the attention of the attendant back on herself. Thus a potentially more conscious engagement with the performance can take place as the attendant gets to know the aesthetic language of the show.   Taking the lead from Hill, Tam calls this “teaching the grammar of the show” to the audience:  It’s spatialized in the hall so that when we walk in and are surrounded by this soundscape, it’s like your brain will try and follow the same pitches. We always try to find narratives. My hope was that you get disoriented because you’re hearing things from all over the place; even if you’re not conscious of this happening, your selective hearing is hopping all over the place and your attention is drawn from different places. Even if you’re not looking 142  you’re more aware of voices around you, activities around you. And that’s the kind of response I wanted to set the whole thing in. I think what Steven [Hill] would say — teaching the grammar of the show. So that was right off the bat. (Tam)  In To Wear a Heart so White the grammar is not primarily about language, character, or narrative. It is about the embodied cognition of spatio-acoustic relationships. A certain church genre, mixed with a procession genre (the sacred way), and further overlaid with an official historical narrative works with the notion of mixing together short sound bits from three sources. The clashing of spatial narratives is not as extreme as the clashing of recorded sources. Therefore the push-and-pull of recognizable narratives, in themselves complex but not wholly unrelated, with the absolute instability of auditory information, potentially creates an oscillation between moments of knowing and moments of not knowing, between genre-recognition and uncategorizable sound space.   As Levitin notes, genre is a matter of cultural convention, and not really a matter of objective physical properties of sound:  Perhaps the ultimate illusion in music is the illusion of structure and form. There is nothing in a sequence of notes themselves that creates the rich emotional associations we have with music, nothing about a scale, a chord, or a chord sequence that intrinsically causes us to expect a resolution. Our ability to make sense of music depends on our experience, and on neural structures that can learn and modify themselves with each new song we hear, and with each new listening to an old song. Our brains learn a kind of musical grammar that is specific to the music of our culture, just as we learn to speak the language of our culture. (loc. 1670). When it comes to music and sound, structure and form are not out there, they are in here.  143   4.2 Synaesthesia and multi-modal mapping In neuroscientific terms, the “grammar” would be a number of identifiable neural patterns — musical keys, meters, and rhythms that the listener can call up in order to categorize what she is hearing: “Ah, it’s waltz time” (three beats per measure), or “It’s straight time” (four beats per measure). These characteristics of music, and sound in general, have emotional resonance for us. Levitin writes of the manner in which a conductor’s movement stretches and compresses meter, and emphasizes or de-emphasizes dynamic “for emotional communication. Real conversations between people, real pleas of forgiveness, expressions of anger, courtship, storytelling, planning, and parenting don’t occur at the precise clips of a machine. To the extent that music is reflecting the dynamics of our emotional lives, and our interpersonal interactions, it needs to swell and contract, to speed up and slow down, to pause and reflect” (loc. 2626). “The Brain,” he writes, “needs to create a model of a constant pulse — a schema — so that we know when the musicians are deviating from it. This is similar to variations of a melody: We need to have a mental representation of a what the melody is in order to know — and appreciate — when the musician is taking liberties with it.”   Trying to navigate the opening of To Wear a Hear so White, a sound design with no tonal center and no obvious meter, presents different levels of challenge for different attendants. For someone who requires a high level of metric predictability and a clear sense of what key the music is in, entering into the show might be an experience devoid of pleasure. Some attendants, during talkbacks, described the experience of encountering the sound world as one of slight nausea (Leaky Heaven Talkback: To Wear a Heart so White). I felt the same way at first. It felt like the floor was rocking slightly. As I became accustomed to the sensation, the sonic 144  environment revealed more layers. I liken it to an aural version of watching the Northern Lights. During the one time I have seen the Northern Lights it looked to me as if the sky was made of translucent crepe paper ruffled gently by unseen hands. It wrinkled. Parts of it receded while other parts came forward. It kept changing. That is what Tam’s design felt like to me: like I was surrounded by wavy, wrinkling, sonic crepe paper. The nausea would have been the result of my trying to initially locate a meter, a rhythm, and a tonal center. But because there were competing meters, rhythms, and a lack of tonal center, it is likely that a number of neural patterns were in competition, making it difficult for me to find a dominant pattern for them.   Inevitably, however, the brain continues its search to make sense of the experience. Unconsciously, it provides me with the Northern Light schema — a visual schema that is also aural, or rather a cross-modal schema made up of visual and aural patterns, each contributing a partial representation. I remember lying on the grass on the slope of a mountain, watching, and listening to the lights. “Listening” to the lights?” That is my memory of it. No one has recorded this phenomenon but many people have reported it. It is suspected that the swishing and crackling sounds people say they hear are produced by a “leakage” of electrical impulses from the nerves of the eye into the auditory cortex where the impulses are interpreted as sound — a kind of synesthesia. The theory of neural reuse, which has clinical research to support it, offers another explanation. The idea that specific regions of the brain are responsible for specific modes of sensory perception is currently being re-assessed. It is not that regions like the auditory cortex are no longer relevant, but neurons in these areas seem to be able to change their function and manner of firing. A neuron or group of neurons responsible for visual processing, for example, seem to be able to switch to auditory processing. A visual neural map can become a visual-auditory map, or visual-tactile-auditory map. In addition to this, areas from regions outside one 145  cortical area can be recruited to assist with processing in another cortical area.39 As Anderson, theorist of “action grounded cognition,” argues, the traditional idea of a one-to-one relationship between a brain area and a perceptual/psychological attribute does not sufficiently explain how neuronal activity works. In fact, it now seems that neurons are organized according to the required task at hand. “Coalitions” of neurons form and reform depending on whatever cognitive challenge an individual is presented with (Anderson After 49-52). Depending on the task, neurons in the occipital lobe, a region at the back of the brain that processes visual information, will cooperate with neurons in the sensorimotor region to work out a tactile task such as reading brail.   Regarding neural distribution, hearing, and cross-modal cooperation, Schnupp et al. concur: “The neural circuits that extract or convey information about the periodicity [a period of time demarcating one or more wavelengths] of a sound need not be the same as those that trigger the subjective sensation of a particular pitch” (116). A common phrase used among neuroscientists to describe both neural distribution and neural repurposing is, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” This describes what is also commonly referred to as “neural plasticity,” an enduring change in how neurons connect to one another. Further to the issue of cross-modal processing, Schnupp et al. cautiously entertain the possibility, increasingly supported by                                                 39 It is well understood that auditory processing of electrical signals, via nerve fibers, travels from inner ear, and through various areas of the brain stem before reaching the auditory cortex. But the idea of neural reuse changes the very function of neurons themselves. For a detailed discussion see Michael Anderson’s After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain and “Neural reuse: A fundamental organizational principle of the brain.”. 146  research, that sensory modalities simply cannot be fully separated, and are interdependent, going so far as to say that motor areas of the brain connected to physical action may be involved in tasks such as perceiving pitch: . . . neural responses in the auditory pathway might never fully separate periodicity from other physical or perceptual qualities of a sound, such as intensity, timbre, or sound source direction. Such an ‘implicit’ representation would not necessarily make it impossible for other, not strictly auditory but rather cognitive or motor areas of the brain to deduce the pitch of a sound if the need arises (similar arguments have been made in the context of so-called motor theories of speech). (129) This again fits with the embodied cognition argument that to perceive is to do. Regarding cross-modal coalitions, the authors go on to cite compelling research that affirms the manner in which sight guides hearing, and hearing guides sight:  . . . different sensory inputs are transformed by the SC [the Superior Colliculus, an area in the brain stem] into motor commands for controlling orienting movements of the eyes, head, and, in species where they are mobile, the external ears. Besides providing a common framework for sensorimotor integration, aligning the different sensory inputs allows interactions to take place between them, which give rise to enhanced responses to stimuli that are presented in close temporal and spatial proximity. (208-9)  The Superior Colliculus, referred to in the above quote, “is a multisensory structure, and the auditory representation is superimposed on maps of visual space and of the body surface that are also present there” (207). Contrary to older models of strictly task-specific brain regions, newer research describes highly distributed and multi-modal neuronal activity, seen increasingly as much more plastic, adaptable, and changeable than previously believed.  147   To bring this discussion back to the unsettling auditory experience in To Wear a Heart so White, I am suggesting that the degree to which an attendant is successful at stabilizing the situation for herself has to do with whether she has existing multi-modal neural patterns through which she can physically cognize what is on offer. This can happen to a greater or lesser degree for each individual. The Northern Lights schema may have given me a way of adjusting to the experience. But failing to fully to stabilize is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the very state of perceptually openness that we encourage through our scenography, depends on the attendant not being able to fully succeed. Openness to the extent of extreme disorientation will be too much for some people. For me, what started as an unsettling experience, a physical-aesthetic challenge of sorts, resolved into something familiar, aided by a memory of an exhilarating experience, seeing the Northern Lights.   I think Nancy Tam accomplished what she was after: sound was spatialized: “You hear the harp notes, which were really prominent and repeating and coming from your left, and then coming from behind you, and in front of you, and just popping everywhere, and you kind get this sense of ‘Oh it’s just everywhere’” (Tam). And it was disorienting: “Even though you’re not even listening to the content of it, you’re being led to pay attention to different parts of the room. And to introduce the space by disorienting the audience is one of my favourite ways of doing it.”   In the next two sections I will further describe the physics of sound propagation and its neural processing. Afterwards, I will summarize some of the tactics employed by Leaky Heaven, in the form of dramaturgical questions for the artist and scholar.   4.3 Mechanical and electrical propagation of sound Sound has mass. Or rather air has mass. I think the layperson tends to think of sound as an 148  immaterial phenomenon travelling from its source through a substance-less ether to reach our ears. But air has mass and weight. Embodied cognition of sound is a result of your body interacting with the air around you. When I speak of stabilizing and destabilizing an attendant’s sense of emplacement in relation to existing and designed sound, I am speaking of affecting the body.   Schnupp et al. ask us to imagine sound travelling as numerous small packets of air, one pushing the next toward our ears. A sound wave is propagated in the following way: 1. Compression: When a thing is struck it vibrates and displaces neighboring air packets. 2. Forward displacement: Each air packet pushes neighboring air packets along. 3. Rarefaction: As one air packet compresses itself to push the next, the air behind it “stretches.” 4. Backward displacement: The stretched air is pushed back in the direction it came from (Schnupp et al. 40-1).  An everyday example the authors use to explain this is the uncorking of a bottle. Air in the neck of a bottle has mass. When the cork is pulled out, air is pulled out with it. This decreases pressure in the belly of the bottle. The lower pressure in the belly then allows for the greater weight of air outside the bottle to push into it (7-8). The bottle is a “resonant cavity” in which the displacement of air produces a sound we recognize as a pop. Our bodies work in a somewhat similar fashion; we too are resonant cavities. To produce pitched sound we tighten our vocal cords (tissue flaps) across the larynx, then “exhale to push air through the closed folds” (34). “The vocal cords respond by snapping open and shut repeatedly in quick succession, producing a series of rapid clicks known as ‘glottal pulses.’ These glottal pulses then ‘ring’ through a series of resonant cavities, the vocal tract, which includes the throat, the mouth, and the nasal sinuses.” 149  Creating sound begins with pushing air (molecules), tissue, and slightly displacing cartilage and bone, in this fashion. To be clear, what I am calling a moving air mass is more specifically a sound wave moving through air masses. Individual molecules do not travel from a sound source (a material that vibrates) all the way to your ears. Rather one molecule is slightly displaced, displacing another molecule, displacing another molecule, and so on all the way to your ear. Soundwaves, bounce off all available surfaces, travel (through molecular displacement) to your outer ear, enter your ear canal at a certain angle and with a certain frequency, and travel along it to push against your ear drum. On the other side of the ear drum, further in, are three small bones. The displaced ear drum will push the first bone, which pushes the next, which pushes the next. There is a 20:1 ratio of force between what pushes against the larger surface of the first bone to what happens when the last smaller bone pushes against the next surface, a membrane known as the oval window. In other words, the force is multiplied by focusing it on a small point.  On the other side of the oval window is the cochlea, a liquid-filled chamber of the inner ear. Pressure waves now travel through this coiled, snail-like chamber. Running the length of the chamber is the basilar membrane. Different parts of this membrane are resonant to different frequencies, with the part of the membrane closest to the oval window responding to high frequencies, and the part that is furthest responding to low frequencies. The membrane is thus tonotopically ordered (Schnupp et al. 62): “. . . each point of the basilar membrane has its own ‘best frequency,’ a frequency that will make this point on the basilar membrane vibrate more than any other” (57). Sitting on the membrane is the organ of corti, which runs along the length of the basilar membrane. “Hair cells” within the organ of corti move up and down with the movement of the basilar membrane. The ends of these hairs (stereocilia) send signals to the auditory nerve fiber. Depending on where on the membrane these hair cells sit, they will transmit 150  different kinds of auditory information related to “the rhythm and the amplitude of the movement of the basilar membrane on which they sit” (65).40   At this point we are moving from the mechanical force of air pushing on air (molecule displacing molecule) — pushing on membrane and bone, pushing through water, etc., — to the transmission of electro-chemical energy through nerve cells (neurons). The auditory nerve, attached to the cochlea and picking up the signals from the organ of corti, transmits, through neural pathways, auditory information, first to and through numerous areas in the brain stem, some of which have been mentioned above, such as the superior colliculus, and eventually up into the auditory cortex (64-69). The auditory cortex, like the basilar membrane, is also organized according to auditory logic. Just as the basilar membrane responds to different frequencies (including overtones) along its length (but see footnote 40), the primary auditory cortex responds to responds to the electrical impulses generated by those frequencies along its ‘length’:                                                  	 40 There are controversies regarding how the basilar membrane and surrounding architecture of the inner ear receive frequencies and transmit them to the relevant nuclei and cortices of the brain. The “place theory” of hearing “posits that when the basilar membrane is stimulated by sound the brain looks for the highest peaks in the resonant vibrations and perceives those peaks as pitches and timbres” (Pritchard 45). The problem with this theory is that the length of the cochlea (when rolled out) is short relative to the wavelength of low frequencies. Also there are only so many pitches the average human is able to “resolve” (perceive as pitch) over this short length (45). A second theory, the “frequency or temporal theory,” suggests that hair cells in the organ of corti can respond (fire) “at rates that are related to the frequency of stimulation” (45). For example a frequency of 500 Hz would be matched by a neuron in the organ of corti firing 500 times per second. The problem with this theory is that a single neuron can only fire, recharge, and fire again to a maximum of 300 to 500 times per second. Humans can hear much higher frequencies than 500 Hz. To compensate for this the “volley principle” suggests that a group of neurons can fire in a “synchronized manner,” meaning that while one neuron is recharging, another neuron is firing. Thus there is a kind of relay occurring in which “neurons don’t all fire at the same time, but as a group they are sending out regular impulses at the beginning of each excitation” (45-46). Unfortunately the volley principle seems to capture excitations only up to about 500 Hz. Thus there is a synthesis of the place and frequency theories known as the “frequency-place theory.” The argument here is that the place theory (the first theory discussed above) will capture high frequencies, while the frequency theory will account for the capture of low frequencies. Both theories are “operative in the midrange of hearing” (46). 151  The auditory cortex, too, is subdivided into a number of separate fields, some of which show relatively clear tonotopic organization, and others less so. Apart from their tonotopy, different cortical fields are distinguished by their anatomical connection patterns (how strong a projection they receive from which thalamic nucleus, and which brain regions they predominantly project to), physiological criteria (whether neurons are tightly frequency tuned or not, respond at short latencies or not, etc.) or their content of certain cell-biological markers, such as the protein parvalbumin. (90)  What is of significance here, regarding embodied cognition, is that there is something of an analogic structure to the organization of sound in the cochlea and auditory cortex that reflects the structure of sound propagation in the world. Our interaction with the environment is one of structural simulation.  Finally, the path is not unidirectional. Just as individuals will tune their hearing to auditory surroundings by moving their head and body, and thus shifting how they receive sound waves, the internal auditory system is in a feedback loop with all of its parts. “There are […] countless neurons relaying information back down, from frontal cortex to auditory cortex, from auditory cortex to each subcortical processing level . . . all the way back down to the cochlea” (92). Thus,  [the] anatomical arrangement indicates that auditory processing does not occur in a purely feedforward fashion. It can incorporate feedback loops on many levels, which make it possible to retune the system on the fly, right down to the level of the mechanics of the cochlea, to suit the particular demands the auditory system faces in different environments or circumstances. (92)  Given that sound is a physical force that both drives straight at an individual and also immerses her in reflected, ambient waves, a group of scenographically-minded devisers hoping 152  to work productively with acoustics, existing and designed, would do well to have a working knowledge of auditory science. If one thinks of sound as pressure waves pushed hard (through successive displacement) at, or caressing, the attendant, one may gain a deeper understanding of how scenographic choices will contribute to the attendant’s sense of emplacement or displacement. Add to this an understanding of the resonant qualities of a space and the reflective qualities of materials placed in the space, and one can add nuance to a sound design. Finally, knowing that hearing is never just hearing, and vision never just vision, and that each partakes of the other as well as of other sensory modalities that form “coalitions” of neuronal patterns to make sense of an experience — an atmosphere or genre that is itself multi-modal — one can begin to assemble more complex, perceptually adventurous, performance events.  The symmetry of sound Another way of thinking about sonic destabilization and resolution is in terms of this symmetry. Countless studies have shown that the relative symmetry of our brains, divided into a left and right hemisphere, plays an important role in how we perceive the world. In an auditory context, sounds that enter our right ear, for example, travel as electrical signals to both the right and left auditory cortices of our brains. There is a strong tendency for sounds received in the right ear to be represented most strongly in the left auditory cortex and for sounds received in the left ear to be most strongly represented in the right cortex (Hugdahl 127). In addition, the left auditory region tends to interpret and process words better than the right region, while the right region tends to process musical sounds better (127). In fact, patients who have suffered damage to critical areas of the left auditory cortex can lose the ability to produce or understand speech (depending on the specific area of damage), but can still understand sound (121). There is some 153  overlap between what the two sides do, as well as critical differences. Due to hemispheric symmetry and asymmetry, in combination with cross-modal neural maps, we are able to interpret and locate where a sound is coming from. Not only are we able to locate that sound, we are able to pick out particular sounds from dense aural environments (Teki 2).  Recent studies show that visual maps and auditory maps work together, but perhaps with a slightly different emphasis, to locate sound. A visual map presents a “circumscribed” area, as you would expect from a map (Lee and Groh 3). You could say the neurons create a kind of connect-the-dots drawing that offers the general shape of what the eyes see. Lee and Groh argue that when it comes to locating sound in space the superior colliculus — an area in which neurons create visual spatial maps and in which it is believed auditory neurons create ‘topographies’ that match “oculomotor” maps — contains neurons that have two different but mutually supportive functions (2). The same neurons that at some moments fire for the purpose of creating visual maps fire at other moments in response to auditory stimuli.41 When doing the latter, the firing patterns do not necessarily match up tightly with the visual map created. Rather, they tend to fire in clusters related to the “interaural axis” — that is, according to left-ear/right-ear symmetry — and to the micro difference by which a particular sound reaches one ear before the other and helps the hearer locate the direction and distance of a sound in space:  Stimulus localization in the auditory system is possible because of the geometry of the head and external ears. Key to this is the physical separation of the ears on either side of the head. For sounds coming from the left or the right, the difference in path length to each ear results in an interaural difference in the time of sound arrival, the magnitude of which                                                 41 This is perhaps in keeping with Anderson’s theory of neural reuse. 154  depends on the distance between the ears as well as the angel subtended by the source relative to the head. (Schnupp et al. 178). The strength of a neuron firing in relation to points along the left-right axis creates an analogic structure, one that complements the visual map.42   Using to the logic of symmetry, a sound designer can offer the reassurance of symmetrical sound space or she can offer the adventure of a shifting, asymmetrical environment. Distance and direction of sound contribute to the felt sense of a space: the sound is far or near, left or right. Nancy Tam, using octophonic surround sound, toyed with the attendant’s sense of symmetry, introducing a degree of uncertainty for the audience members: exactly how were they supposed to feel about the environment they were entering? They would be taking a journey through several genres of performance and space, by turns comic, whimsical, ironic, dramatic, and tragic. They would be on shifting ground for the seventy-five minute duration of the show. The sound design would continue to be a major factor in shaping the space of each genre. It would alternately offer the attendant a sense of stability and instability. The attendant would find herself in a the push-pull experience described by Home-Cook at the beginning of this chapter: Immersed in sound waves coming from unclear directions while reaching out to locate their sources. She may find herself unsure of other things too, such as the dimensions of the room.                                                  42 The fact that hearing is dependent on head-position and ear symmetry is very much in line with Gibson’s argument, discussed in detail in the following chapters, that vision is a whole body perceptual act and not a simple matter of the physics of optics. From an embodied cognition perspective, hearing is also a whole body act in which ears must “stretch,” as Home-Cook puts it, to meet aural phenomena. A head must turn or tilt, on a neck which turns or tilts, on a body that moves in space. 155   4.4 Some dramaturgical questions for the artist and scholar inspired by sound design in To Wear a Heart so White  Is sound at a given moment directional, ambient, or both?  At a given moment are you intending to emphasize one sensory modality, several, or make them all more or less equal?  How does the shell of the room amplify or suppress sounds?  What kinds of sounds do the surfaces/materials of the shell enhance or suppress?  Do you notice any existing frequencies, high, medium, or low?  Does the room have a buzz or hum? Do you want to mask these sounds, allow them to be noticed, or emphasize them?  Will you populate the room with materials that reflect sound, absorb sound, or both?  How will you use the materials you add to the space (including performers and attendants) to alter the way sound travels through the room?  156  Is the sound design, at a given section, intended to make the attendant feel emplaced, uncertain, decentered, stable, unstable, etc.?  Does the sound design emphasize pitch, timbre, tempo, volume, or rhythm? More than one of these? To what end?  When sound is directional, does it seem as if it is coming from the thing that is supposed to be making the sound, for example, a speaker, a human voice, or a set piece? Or is it directional but not connected to the apparent source?  When does the sound design seem have a spatial direction, moving from one location to another?  When does the sound design seem to have a temporal direction, moving from past to present, present to future, and from future to present or past?  Is it possible to separate the spatial direction of sound from the temporal direction? Do they have to go in the same direction or can they be at odds?  Does the sound design make the space seem smaller or larger, more dense or more expansive, thick or thin, polluted or airy?  Does the sound design make one part of the room more present than another?  157  Does the sound design make the room feel like it’s tilting one way or another, turning one way or another, changing size, density, or other?  At a given moment do the lights make the room “sound” louder or quieter, harder or softer?  Do the rhythm and tempo of the lighting changes reinforce or conflict with the rhythm and tempo of the sound changes?  Do the natural acoustics and sound design, at a given moment, add clarity to where things are in the room or obscure things?  Does the sound design represent something — a story, or something found in the world like birdsong or traffic, or is it in itself a phenomena of intense perceptual engagement, a multisensory or synaesthetic provocation that challenges the attendant’s perceptual skill?  Does the sound design reference one or several genres? To what extent does it resist categorization? To what extent does it embrace categorization?  Is the sound design helping the attendant forget where they are?  Is the sound design drawing the attendant’s focus to herself and her material surroundings?   158  Chapter 5: The perspective stage and sensorimotor schemas in Steppenwolf  5.1 Introduction In this chapter I describe and analyze two important scenographic features of Steppenwolf: (1) lateral and rotational movement (actual and digital); (2) perspectival framing in the tradition of the Italianate stage. In the first sections, “The perspective stage and the significance of depth,” David Wiles’ historical analysis of the Italianate stage provides a model for understanding the intent of the Steppenwolf performance design.43 Wiles argues that the perspectival stage, due to its enduring familiarity, continues to be a meaningful spatial configuration for theatre audiences (Wiles 207-39). I apply the spatial logic of this model to Steppenwolf. Interlaced with this I develop Gibson’s theory of surface perception as it applies to the scenography of the Pacing scene from Steppenwolf. I go into detail regarding surface perception in general and the specific surfaces on offer in the Pacing scene. A further feature of significance in Steppenwolf is the manner in which lateral and rotational movement of stage elements played a specific perceptual game with the audience, and how this game was critical to exploiting the perspectival spatial schema of the Italianate stage. In a later section, “Metaphor theory, sensorimotor schemas, and the embodiment of spatial depth,” I use Lakoff and Johnson’s metaphor theory, grounded in cognitive neuroscience, to further explain how the attendant is able to embody the spatial design and why it is meaningful. Metaphors such as “the truth is revealed” and “I have grasped the truth” have relevance to perspectival scenography, are based on spatialized physical relationships                                                 43 I applied aspects of this historical model, as scenographic adviser, to To Wear a Heart so White, and as co-director to both Steppenwolf  and Revolutions. 159  developed through one’s life, and are instantiated as neural patterns that allow the attendant to embody the performance design. At various points in the chapter I reference Laura Marks’ definitions of “optic” and “haptic” visuality to elucidate two contrasting perceptual modes that contribute to Steppenwolf’s sensory affects. For Marks “haptic visuality” means tactile understanding of analogue and digital surfaces in film and video, specifically the way textural appearance of these surfaces — celluloid and videotape — is amplified by various treatments. When contrasting haptic with optic visuality (Marks 131-32), the latter is traditionally thought of as distancing, offering “mastery” to the viewer and providing narrative clarity. Marks does not subscribe to a strict division between the haptic and the optic, but rather explores the relationship between them as tendencies. There are obvious correlations between Marks’ terminology and Manning and Massumi’s discussion of neurotypical and neurodiverse perception, Pallasmaa’s description of ocularcentric and haptic architecture, and Gibson’s critique of optical vision. In this chapter I begin to develop the notion of the map of unknowing, which is related to and grows out of the oscillations between haptic and optic, between sensorimotor access and denial, and, as will be fully developed in Chapter 7, between material (actual) and imagined (fictive), and through alienation techniques that make that which is visually perceptible strange by offering only a partial views and resisting completing an image.    5.2 The perspective stage and the significance of depth Gibson considers the word “depth” an imprecise way of describing distant objects. We do not see depth any more than we see “space.” We see surfaces in the “terrestrial array,” some close and some far (Gibson 151-56). When we look at something far away on a horizontal plane, we might use the metaphor “look into the depth” instead of the literal “look at that faraway distant thing.” 160  But the metaphor has significance to the history of Western performance spaces. In the Steppenwolf design it is exploited as a familiar cultural frame. Since the invention of “natural” perspective drawing in the 15th century,44 and the subsequent transfer of its illusionistic principles to theatre architecture and scenography in the 16th century (Brockett et al. Making 64), that which lies at the vanishing point — often a doorway or portal of some kind — has signified an idealized world, a spiritual or inner “truth.” To be clear, I am not suggesting that the vanishing point was the only locus of significance on the perspective stage. Truth can descend from above in the form of a divine visitation, for example. The perspective stage can be manipulated so that revelation can occur at other physical locations. The vanishing point can simply be an anchor for a moment of significance taking place elsewhere on stage. Developments such as the scena per angolo or “angled scene”