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Performing Presence: From the Live to the Simulated

A collaborative project in creative interdisciplinary research running September 2005 – June 2010

Principal Investigators

Nick Kaye, Professor of Performance Studies, Exeter University

Gabriella Giannachi, Senior Lecturer in Drama, Exeter University

Mel Slater, Professor of Virtual Environments, University College London

Michael Shanks, The Omar and Althea Hoskins Chair, CoDirector, Stanford Humanities Lab, Stanford University

Collaborating Performance Artists

Tim Etchells, Director of Forced Entertainment, performance and digital media company, Sheffield UK

Bella Merin, actress and theorist, Exeter

Vayu Naidu, performance storyteller, Canterbury UK

Mike Pearson, performance artist, Professor of Performance, University of Wales Aberystwyth

Fiona Templeton, performance artist, New York and London

Phillip Zarrilli, Professor of Performance Practice and theatre practitioner, Exeter University

Lynn Hershman, performance and media artist, A.D. White Professor, Art Department, Cornell University

Gary Hill, video artist, Seattle and New York

Blast Theory, mixed reality gaming and performance company, London

The Builders Association, multi-media theatre company, New York

Paul Sermon, telepresence artist, Reader in Creative Technologies, Salford University

Andrea Zapp, new media artist, Senior Lecturer in Media Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University


Presence is a fundamental yet highly contested aspect of performance, and performance has come to be a key concept in many different fields. Notions of presence hinge on the relationship between the live and mediated, on notions of immediacy, authenticity and originality. Presence prompts questions of the character of self-awareness, of the presentation of self. Interaction is implicated — presence often implies being in someone's presence. Location too — to be present is to be somewhere. Hence presence also directs us outside the self into the social and spatial. And also, of course, into temporality — a fulcrum of presence is tense and the relationship between past and present.

The Presence Project aims to combine expertise from performance and drama theory and practice, anthropological archaeology, and computer science to investigate means by which "presence" is achieved in live and mediated performance and simulated environments. The project aims to explore how exchanges of practices, concepts and methodologies between academic disciplines and between live, mediated and simulated performance may deepen an understanding of the performance of presence.


Debates over the nature of the actor's presence have been at the heart of key aspects of theatre practice and theory since the late 1950s and are a vital part of the discourses surrounding avant-garde and postmodern performance. These debates explore terms essential to the theatrical event, addressing the spectator's encounter with the performer, the actor's "authenticity", "aura", "authority" and self-awareness and relationships between "live" performance and its mediation, documentation or trace. Experimental theatre's engagement with video and new media has further heightened the importance of these issues.

Anthropological Archaeology

Archaeology is increasingly understood less as the discovery of the past and more in terms of different relationships with what is left of the past. This foregrounds anthropological questions of the performance and construction of the past in memory, narrative, collections (of textual and material sources), archives and systems of documentation, in experiences of place. Concepts of "presence", "aura" and the "uncanny" return of the past accompany an emphasis upon encounters with the cues or prompts of "site" — with the sign or trace. Such thinking has led to radically new forms of archaeological investigation and documentation that draw on and advance theatre theory and practice.

Computer Science

In Computer Science, "presence" is a key concept and goal in the construction of Virtual Environments: complex interactive projections that simulate three-dimensional environments and which may include representations of humans (avatars). The effectiveness of these representations is not simply a matter of rendering accuracy, but of understanding how specific aspects of behavior, postures, gestures, glances, head-turns, and expressions affect real human participants: how the signs of performance effect a sense of "presence".


While the Presence Project focuses its interests through this creative disciplinary triangulation of Performance, Archaeology and Computing, the scope is broad and involves questions such as the following:

What are the chief signifiers of presence? How is presence achieved through performance? To what extent is presence/absence a fulcrum in differences between live and mediated events? Can presence be distributed? What makes a memory come alive and live again? What, in the way of feeling present and involved, solicits a response of commitment in a performance or game? How can live and present events and places be documented and archived? How is the performance of presence connected with senses of self and identity? How are new media relevant to these questions?


The Presence Project has six strands.

One. Workshops [link]. The project will run a series of public one-day workshops with performance practitioners of international standing — Tim Etchells, Bella Merlin, Vayu Naidu, Mike Pearson, Fiona Templeton and Phillip Zarrilli. These will explore theatrical practices that deal in the presence of the performer. The workshops will culminate in seminar-based discussions of method and effect. The series will be hosted jointly during academic year 2005–2006 by Exeter University's Centre for Intermedia and The International and Intercultural Research Centre, Laboratory and Archive for Performance Practice and Actor Training, which has an internationally recognized profile in research through practice. The workshops will be documented through video, transcription, and interviews of practitioners, as well as collaborative social software (see below).

Two. Literature Review. In years one and two (2005-6 and 2006-7) a literature review undertaken by two doctoral research assistants will address relevant areas of theatre, performance, new media, video and visual art theory and practice, extending to non-technical material in Computer Science and Archaeological theory. The review will create a downloadable web-based project bibliography.

Three. Simulation. In years two and three (2006-7 and 2007-8) the project will model presence in virtual environments that incorporate avatars (representations of humans). This will be undertaken by the Virtual Environments Computer Graphics (VECG) team, University College London. Their Virtual Environments Facility is known by the acronym CAVE. Several modeling exercises will be based upon the findings of the workshop series: we aim to model techniques associated with performer presence, and analyze them according to the methodologies developed by the VECG team. The simulations will be fully documented and published in a project DVD-ROM.

Four. Case Studies [link]. Through the four years of the project we will undertake a series of critical documentations of artists' work that explores presence through relationships between live, mediated and/or simulated performance. Some of these case studies will involve work created specially for the Presence Project. The artists are Lynn Hershman (performance and media artist, A.D. White Professor, Art Department, Cornell); Gary Hill (video artist, Seattle and New York); Blast Theory (mixed reality gaming and performance, UK); The Builders Association (multi-media theatre company, New York) [link]; Monika Fleischmann (digital artist, Head of Media Arts Research Studies, Institute for Media Communication, St Augustin, Germany); Wolfgang Strauss (co-director of the conceptual and technical development in the MARS Exploratory Media Lab at the Fraunhofer Institute for Media Communication, Germany), Paul Sermon (telepresence artist, Reader in Creative Technologies, Salford University); Andrea Zapp (new media artist, Senior Lecturer in Media Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University).

The case studies will involve interviews with participants; research in participants' private archives to access otherwise unavailable documentary material; e-mail exchanges to diary working processes; supplementary interviews conducted electronically; joint authoring of the documentation of current work. Rehearsals will be accessed by company rehearsal tapes and notes.

Five. International Conference. One culmination of the Presence Project will be an international research conference held in 2008-9 that will further advance the project's address to its research questions. The PIs will present key findings of the project to date. Artists participating in strands 1 and 4 will be invited to offer keynote presentations, responses to project findings and participate in seminar events. Delegates and speakers will be drawn from a wide range of disciplines, including Drama, Computer Science, Archaeology, Visual Art, Media and the Arts.

Six. Exhibition and Colloquium. Plans are underway to mount an exhibition of artists' work that deals in presence and mediation and to be held in Stanford in 2009-2010. This final culmination of the project will be accompanied by a colloquium open to the public where artists, Presence Project team members and invited critics and academics will explore the work of the project.

A basic premise of the Presence Project is that performance art is a research opportunity, a research program in presence and mediation. We will engage the topic of presence through several methodologies:

Throughout the project we will be exploring how exchanges of practices, concepts and methodologies between academic disciplines and between live, mediated and simulated performance may deepen an understanding of the performance of presence. This will involve:

Underpinning the project as a whole is the Presence Project Collaboratory, created and hosted by Stanford University. The Collaboratory is a web-based co-authoring, publishing and archival environment that provides a forum to develop new ideas and practices, to create dialogues between participating artists and academics, and to engage a wider public with the project’s possibilities. It is based upon the considerable experience of Michael Shanks's Metamedia Lab (Stanford Humanities Lab) in building and running social software.

Outcomes and publication

Performing Presence will result in print and electronic outputs of interest to national and international academic research communities in Theatre and Performance Studies, Media, Visual Art, Archaeology, Computer Science; theatre practitioners and visual artists; and postgraduate students. Outputs will include:

Contexts and significances

The Presence Project has direct bearing on the following fields and practices:

The collaborators

The Presence Project is proud to have built a truly world class team of academics and practitioners. Discussions are ongoing with participating artists to provide for the use of copyrighted work, current and archived, for electronic or conventional publication arising from the project.

Gabriella Giannachi

Senior Lecturer in Drama, University of Exeter. Her research focuses on new media art and performance, performativity and biotechnology, genomics and globalization. Her principal publications include:

She is Co-Director of the Centre for Intermedia, University of Exeter. Her forthcoming book, Politics, New Media, Theatre: Life®™, will be published by Routledge in 2006.

Nick Kaye

Chair in Performance Studies, University of Exeter. He was previously Chair in Drama at the University of Manchester . His research focuses on the history of post-war experimental performance, with emphasis on the relationship between theatre and the development of ideas and practices through distinct but related disciplines, including sculpture, architectural theory, conceptual and performance art, aspects of experimental music, installation, video art and video installation. A key theme of his research is relationships between critical practice and the documentation of live events. His publications include:

He has edited special issues of Contemporary Theatre Review and Performance Research and contributed to numerous arts and theatre journals. His research through practice has included the creation of multi-media performances presented in London, Dresden and Beijing. He is Co-Director of the Centre for Intermedia, University of Exeter. His forthcoming book, Multi-Media: video - installation - theatre , is written in dialogue with commissioned documentations by the artists Vito Acconci, Pipilotti Rist, The Builders Association, Fiona Templeton, Studio Azzurro and John Jesurun, and will be published by Routledge in 2006.

Michael Shanks

The Omar and Althea Hoskins Professor of Classics, is an archaeologist at Stanford University, Director of Stanford Archaeology Center"s Metamedia Lab. He co-directs Stanford Humanities Lab, a ground-breaking cross-disciplinary center of digital humanities. Two questions have driven his research into prehistoric Europe, Classical antiquity and contemporary design — How are we to understand people and societies through the things they make and leave behind? and How are we to write the archaeological past on the basis of what is left behind? This historiographic interest in documenting the presence of the past has led to a range of experimental work, including a major project with performance artist Mike Pearson —Theatre/Archaeology, defined as the rearticulation of fragments of the past as real-time event. His many major publications include:

From 1997 to 2004 Michael was a Company Director of Brith Gof, a leading multimedia and performance company working in Europe. Michael's Metamedia Lab applies an archaeological sensibility to media new and old.

Mel Slater

Professor of Virtual Environments in the Department of Computer Science at University College London. Before that he was Head of Department of Computer Science at Queen Mary College, University of London. He was visiting professor in Computer Science Division, University of California , Berkeley (1991 and 1992) and Visiting Scientist at the MIT Research Laboratory for Electronics, Sensory Communications Group (1998). His research has concentrated on immersive virtual environments since 1991. He is co-Editor in Chief of the journal Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments (MIT Press). Mel leads the VECG "Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics" research team of 25 expert theorists and designers, part of the Vision, Imaging and Virtual Environments Group at UCL. He has been an EPSRC Senior Research Fellow since 1999. He leads a new European consortium (PRESENCCIA) under the European FET Presence Research call. His publications include:

Blast Theory

Blast Theory is renowned internationally as one of the most adventurous artists' groups using interactive media. Led by Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanitj, the group has a team of seven and is based in London. Blast Theory explores interactivity and the relationship between real and virtual space with a particular focus on the social and political aspects of technology. It confronts a media saturated world in which popular culture rules, using video, computers, performance, installation, mobile and online technologies to ask questions about the ideologies present in the information that envelops us.

Early works such as Gunmen Kill Three, Chemical Wedding and Stampede drew on club culture to create multimedia performances that invited participation. From 1997, the group's work further diversified into online, installation and interactive works such as Kidnap and Desert Rain. Since 2000, Blast Theory has been exploring the convergence of online and mobile technologies in collaboration with the Mixed Reality Lab, University of Nottingham, to create groundbreaking new forms of performance and interactive art mixing audiences across the internet, live performance and digital broadcasting. Projects include the award-winning Can You See Me Now?, Uncle Roy All Around You and I Like Frank — the world's first mixed reality game for 3G phones. The group works with partners such as BBC Interactive, The Science Museum in London and British Telecom. Masterclasses, mentoring, internships, seminars and lectures are central to the group's dissemination of its research around the world.

In March 2005, Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanitj were presented with the Maverick Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards in San Francisco. In 2003, Blast Theory won the much coveted Golden Nica for Interactive Art at Prix Ars Electronica, received an Honorary Mention at the Transmediale Awards in Germany in 2001 and has been nominated for many other awards including four BAFTAs. Internationally, the group has been represented at art fairs and festivals including Festival Escena Contemporanea, Madrid; the Dutch Electronic Arts Festival, Rotterdam; Biennale of Sydney; ArtFutura, Barcelona; International Festival for Dance, Performance and Media Arts, Köln; Palestine International Video Festival and Basel Art Fair.

Builders Association

Founded in 1994, The Builders Association is a New York-based performance and media company that exploits the richness of contemporary technologies to extend the boundaries of theater. Based on unusual collaborations and extensive periods of development, The Builders Association’s productions feature a seamless blend of text, sound, architecture, video, and stage performances that explore the impact of technology on human presence. The Builders Association’s OBIE-award-winning productions have toured to major venues around the world — from Bogota and Los Angeles to London, Rome and Singapore. Marianne Weems is artistic director and a co-founder of The Builders Association and has directed all of their productions. In addition to publishing and lecturing extensively over the last 17 years, she has worked as a dramaturg and assistant director with Susan Sontag, Richard Foreman, Jan Cohen-Cruz, and many others. From 1988-94 she was assistant director and dramaturg for The Wooster Group. She is board president of Art Matters, a private arts foundation, and co-edited the book Art Matters: How The Culture Wars Changed America (N.Y.U. Press, 2000.) She was a member of the performance ensemble The V-Girls, who performed and published from 1986-1995.

Monika Fleischmann

Media artist and theorist, Monika is also a director and curator of media installations. She is trained in theatre, computer graphics and visual arts. Her principal field is interface and new forms of communication. She is the Director of the Institute for Media Communication (Germany) and head of the MARS Exploratory Media Lab at the Fraunhofer Institute for Media Communication in Sankt Augustin (Germany). Together with Giaco Schiesser and Knowbotic Research she also started a New Media Department at the University for Art & Design in Zürich. Her work with Wolfgang Strauss was exhibited at Ars Electronica Linz, ZKM Karlsruhe, Nagoya Science Museum , SIGGRAPH USA , ICC Tokyo, Imagina Monte Carlo, Centre Pompidou Paris, Haus der Kunst München, Itau Cultural Sao Paulo etc. Her work Home of the Brain was awarded Golden Nica at Ars Electronica 1992.

Lynn Hershman

Lynn works in film, photography, video, installation, interactive and net based works. She has had over 200 exhibitions internationally, completed 53 videotapes, 8 interactive installations, 3 web based installations and two feature films and edited the book Clicking In. She was given the ZKM Media Arts Award was a Flintridge Fellow for Lifetime Achievements in the Visual Arts, received an Independent Spirit Award Nomination, received in 1999 the Golden Nica for interactive arts at Ars Electronica, and in 2003, received an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation award for her film Teknolust. She has had retrospectives at the National Gallery of Canada, ICA and will have a retrospective organized by the Henry Gallery in Seattle that will tour the U.S. , Canada and Europe beginning 2006. A monograph of her work is scheduled for release in 2005 by the University of California Press . She is A.D. White Professor, Art Department, Cornell University and was previously Professor at the University of California, Davis. Lynn's work is in the collections of Donald Hess, Arturo Schwarz, The Museum of Modern Art (NY) The William Lehmbruch Museum, the ZKM , the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Canada, and others.

Gary Hill

Originally a sculptor, Hill began working with sound and video in the early 1970’s and has produced a large body of both single-channel video works and mixed-media installations. His video, installation and performance work has been presented at museums and institutions throughout the world, including solo exhibitions at the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Guggenheim Museum SoHo, New York; Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel; Museu d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona; and Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. Hill has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations, and has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, most notably the Leone d’Oro Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1995 and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award in 1998.

Paul Sermon

Media artist and theorist working in the field of immersive and expanded telematic environments. He is currently Reader in Creative Technology at the University of Salford . Paul was nominated for the ZKM/SWR International Media Art Prize ( Karlsruhe , 2000), received an Honorary Mention, Prix Ars Electronica ( Linz, 2000 and 1993), Interactive Media Festival Sparkey Award (Los Angeles, 1994) and Golden Nica Award Prix Ars Electronica ( Linz , 1991). In 1993 he was artist in residence at ZKM/Media Museum in Karlsruhe . His work is in permanent exhibitions in ZKM/Media Museum (Karlsruhe, Germany), National Museum of Photography Film and Television (Bradford , UK) and the Museum for Communication (Bern , Switzerland). Works have also been exhibited in Spain, USA, France, Japan, Netherlands, Italy, Slovenia, Canada, Finland and Sweden. Paul is currently exhibiting an installation, Dissociatve Identity, in the Storyrooms exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester UK.

Wolfgang Strauss

Wolfgang Strauss is an architect and research artist. He lectures in Interactive Media Design at the School of Fine Arts HDK Berlin, at the KHM Media Art School in Cologne, at the School of Fine Arts in Saarbrücken and the Kunsthochschule (Art Academy) in Kassel. In 1988 he was a co-founder of Art + Com, Berlin. While teaching interactive media he developed an experimental curriculum, the "house of illusion" program, for art, architecture and design students. Since 1997 he has been directing the conceptual and technical development in the MARS exploratory media lab at the Fraunhofer Institute for Media Communication. His main research topics are intelligent information interfaces combined with Mixed Reality and Knowledge discovery environments. Since 1999 he has been the project leader for several European projects within the IST Information, Society, Technologies program. Currently he is co-director of the MARS Exploratory Media Lab at the FhG — Institute for Media Communication. His recent work is about intuitive interface environments related to the human body and digital media space.

Andrea Zapp

Media artist and theorist working in the field of narrative structures in the internet and networked public installation environments and Senior Lecturer in Media Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University. Her publications include the edited volumes Networked Narrative Environments as Imaginary Spaces of Being (Manchester Metropolitan University/MIRIAD and FACT 2004) and New Screen Media: Cinema/Art/Narrative, co-edited with Martin Rieser (British Film Institute and Center for Art and Media, ZKM 2002). Her installations and web projects include The Imaginary Hotel: Grazer Zimmer, 2002; Little Sister, 2000; A Body of Water, 1999, in collaboration with Paul Sermon. She has won awards, among others, from the Arts Council (2004 and 2002), BKA ( Vienna 2003), Leverhulme Trust (2002), Honorary Mention, Prix Ars Electronica (2000). In 1997 she was artist in residence at the Future Lab of the Ars Electronica Centre in Linz. She has exhibited in Rotterdam, Graz, Manchester/Lancaster, São Paulo, Pittsburg, Karlsruhe, Linz, Berlin, Moscow, Turin, Liverpool, Madrid, and New York. Andrea is currently exhibiting the installaion, Human Avatars, in the Storyrooms exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester UK, which she has also curated.

Tim Etchells

Forced Entertainment is a group of six artists formed in 1984 and led by director and writer Tim Etchells. One of the most celebrated and influential UK performance, multi-media and digital arts companies, the group's work spans theatre, durational performance/live art, gallery installation, video and digital media.

Forced Entertainment continually try to find new performance and theatre forms with which to describe contemporary urban life. Their work is emphatically a group creation — made through improvisation and discussion and drawing on theatre itself as well as on cinema, music culture, literature and fine art. The themes the company return to are life in cities, identity and sexual politics, the relationship of lived experience to images from the media culture, the nature of language, the attractiveness of chaos and the desire for order, and the need to confess. Tim Etchells' Certain Fragments: Contemporary Performance and Forced Entertainment is published by Routledge. His fiction has been published by Duckworths and Pulp Books. Studies and documentation of Forced Entertainment's work have been published by Routledge, Tate Modern and Black Dog Press.

"Britain's most brilliant experimental theatre company." The Guardian.

Bella Merlin

Vayu Naidu

Vayu Naidu is a performance storyteller deriving her inspiration and narratives from diverse encounters with geographies, cultures, conflicts, and performing art forms, Artistic Director of Vayu Naidu Company and AHRC Creative Research Fellow at University of Kent, Canterbury. Her company is founded on the basis of two parallel streams: storytelling as new work with British composers and world musicians, and new writing for theatre and broadcast, as well as adaptations of world classics featuring a strong storytelling device concerning diaspora.

Vayu Naidu’s plays include: There Comes a Karma, BBC Radio 4 Drama short listed for the Richard Imison Award for best new writing for radio (directed by Vanessa Whitburn, 1999); Playboy of the Asian World, commissioned and produced by Leicester Haymarket Theatre (directed by Nona Shepphard, 1999); Nine Nights, commissioned and produced by Leicester Haymarket Theatre (directed by Chris Banfield, 1999); When, BBC Radio 4 Drama (directed by Vanessa Whitburn, 2002. Mass and Class, part of the Soho Theatre shorts, selected by Kali Theatre Company and commissioned to a full length play for stage in 2002. Her books for children are published by Wayland Publishers, Collins, UK and Tulika in Chennai, India.

South was a mid scale production with contemporary and south Indian dance, music and storytelling theatre with actors directed by Chris Banfield. South explored the meaning of geographical direction, metaphoric and emotional resonances, as well as political ones. The work combined new stories from interviews with refugees, people in livelihoods dependent on the coast from SE England, Cornwall, Chennai, South Africa, and Greece, and some of the modern myths associated with them. South aimed to look at the enrichment of people and the cross cultural fertilization of cultures and art forms.

Mike Pearson

Professor of Performance Studies, University of Wales Aberystwyth. Mike trained as an archaeologist. Between 1972 and 1997, in a series of companies including RAT Theatre, Cardiff Laboratory Theatre and Brith Gof, he pioneered new and innovative approaches to the form, function and placement of performance in Wales and further afield — South America, Hong Kong, Eastern Europe. This included spectacular and epic site specific productions such as Brith Gof's Gododdin and Haearn as well as intimate solo performances (with Mike Brookes). Mike joined Aberystwyth in 1997 and launched the Performance Studies degree scheme in 1999.

Mike's research interests include performance studies (physical theatre, devised performance, site-specific work and disability and performance); Theatre/Archaeology: examination of points of convergence between contemporary performance theory and practice and interpretive approaches in archaeology; biography, memory and personal narrative in performance. He has written the hybrid work Theatre/Archaeology (Routledge 2001) with Michael Shanks, and has just completed a work of chorography on the landscape and folk traditions of his native Lincolnshire.

Fiona Templeton

Fiona Templeton's work ranges across various disciplines, including performance, installation, video, opera, plays and poetry, multi-media and site-specific practices. Her performance is a conceptual investigation of theatre as a total medium – language, space, and time, and as an "art of relation", in particular in its connections with audience. She has been awarded fellowships from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts in both Poetry and Visual Arts (new genres); an Abendzeitung Muenchen Sterne des Jahres for theatre; and two fellowships from New York Foundation for the Arts for performance, as well as one for playwriting. She was 1996-7 Senior writer-in-residence at the English Faculty of Cambridge University, England, and 2000-2003 Arts and Humanities Research Board fellow with the Department of Theatre Studies, University of Lancaster, England. In December 2002 she received the annual Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts grant for theatre in New York. Fiona was co-founder, with Anthony Howell, of the influential performance art company The Theatre of Mistakes in the 1970s.

Fiona mostly writes and directs in New York. Her award-winning and influential YOU—The City, "an intimate citywide play for an audience of one", has since been recreated in six countries and languages, including at the London International Festival of Theatre in 1989, and most recently as a key project of Rotterdam Cultural Capital of Europe 2001. Her collaboration with the late Michael Ratomski, Recognition, performed live by Fiona in conversation with Michael on video, was produced at the Kitchen, New York and the ICA, London, and the Cambridge Conference on Contemporary Poetry 1996-7. Fiona has received play commissions from Theater Cocteau-Basel, Switzerland; Art Awareness, Lexington NY; New York State Council on the Arts; the Mickery, Amsterdam; and most recently a new work, L’Ile (The Island), a theatre game by appointment, for the opening of Lille European Cultural Capital 2004. Her current project, The Medead, is in progress. It is an epic that retells the life-story of Medea, for 12 performers, to be produced by the Glasgow Tramway and the Rotterdamse Schouwburg.

Phillip Zarrilli

Professor of Performance Studies, University of Exeter. Phillip Zarrilli is internationally recognised for training actors using a psychophysical process combining yoga, especially Hatha Yoga, and the Asian martial arts Kalarippayattu and Tai Chi Ch’uan. Devised as an alternative to the conventional Western models for the psychological or behavioral creation of character, his training focuses on the actor’s breath and movement to teach awareness, focus, concentration, discovery and use of inner energy and bodymind integration. Phillip is the first Westerner to have undergone full-time, long-term training in Kalarippayattu.

Prior to joining the faculty at Exeter, Phillip was Professor of Theatre, Folklore, and South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has also taught at U.C.L.A., Northwestern, N.Y.U, and the University of Surrey. His books include Kathakali Dance-Drama: Where Gods and Demons Come to Play (Routledge), When the Body Becomes All Eyes (Oxford University Press) and Acting (Re)Considered: Theories and Practices (Routledge). He is Contributing Editor to The Drama Review, the leading journal of Performance Studies.

Funding and support

The Presence Project has received an award of £275k (about $500k) from the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK. This is to cover secretarial support at Exeter University, two research assistants, a VR programmer at UCL, workshops, travel and the organization of the conference.

Exeter University has contributed £3K (about $5.5K) to the costs of the bibliographic web site and in 2004-5 provided £6.9K (about $12K) to release Giannachi and Kaye from 50% of their teaching in support of preparation and development of funding bids. Further funds of £15K (about $28K) have been made available to the project at Exeter under Full Economic Costing to support the time commitment of the Exeter Principal Investigators. UCL is funding documentation (through video) of the CAVE simulations and contributing toward the operational costs of the CAVE (@ £385 per day for up to three weeks).

At Stanford Michael Shanks's lab - Metamedia (part of the Archaeology Center and affiliated with Stanford Humanities Lab) can only provide basic support for the Presence Project website and for some documentation of artists' work.

Michael Shanks is also seeking

He is also looking for faculty collaborators. Interest has been expressed at Stanford by Peggy Phelan, Richard Martin, Paula Ebron, Fred Turner (collaboration already underway on the Mellon Workshop "Critical Studies in New Media"), Jon Bender (for SHC) and Henry Lowood.

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