Title: Close Encounters: Issues Arising in One-to-One Performance
Author: Michael David Jones
Award: Master of Philosophy (Drama) in the Faculty of Arts
Supervisor: Professor Simon Jones
Date Awarded:  September 2010
Awarding Body: The University of Bristol

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In this dissertation I present my proposal that Bert States’ ‘binocular vision’ of semiotics and phenomenology may be a useful strategy for the analysis of live performance, but that it is insufficient for application to One-to-One Performance. In the One-to-One, one audience member meets with one performer to witness a performed act or to carry out a collaborative action. These encounters may be repeated a number of times with different audience members, although always with only one audience member at any time.

The One-to-One format carries with it a specific set of implications not found in other forms of performance work. It often asks an intense and physically close encounter between artist and audience member, which disallows the objective disconnect possible when watching a more conventional play or performance. For this reason I present the Haptic Criticism of Laura Marks as a strategy for the negotiation and analysis of the One-to-One. Marks proposes Haptic Criticism as an integrated theory of looking that takes into account a more embodied and emotional application of semiotics and phenomenology to artwork. I suggest that Haptic Criticism may provide a more suitable strategy for theorising the merging of these competing methodologies that takes into account the more embodied nature of One-to-One Performance.

At the time of writing the number of artists making One-to-One performances in the UK appears to be rising. In this thesis I offer insight into One-to-One performance from my perspective as a practitioner making One-to-One performances and also as an audience of the performances of others. The dissertation takes into account a range of issues pertinent to the One-to-One which include Therapy, Confession, Emotional Disclosure, Trust, Risk, Intimacy, Structure, Etiquette, Repetition, Reality and Authenticity. Due to the range of issues covered the writing also takes into account a number of methodological sources, such as Queer Theory and the writings of Baudrillard on Simulacra.

This dissertation presents a dialogue between performance methodology and the author’s own Live Art practice and for this reason a DVD containing documentary extracts of this performance practice is included with the writing. (Not included on website)