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Carla Capeto

Published date
19 Jun 2018

Space dramaturgy: performance environments on interactive art

Central Saint Martins

This thesis proposes the reframing of dramaturgy into interactive art with a focus on spatial relationships rather than textual. The thesis' original contribution to knowledge is the creation of a new type of dramaturgy – space dramaturgy – as an artistic methodology that examines the performativity of interactive art installations, taking as key the compositional elements of space, body, and technology.

The thesis investigates the relationship of these compositional elements through a combination of theoretical and practice-based methods in order to explore the performativity of interactive installations and participatory spectatorships.

The theoretical investigation provides a critical historical and contemporary analysis of dramaturgy, contextualising space dramaturgy within a non-textual dramaturgical practice. It is supported by theories of postdramatic theatre(Lehmann, 2006), and new dramaturgy (Van Kerkhoven, 2009a). The theory also develops the compositional element for a space dramaturgy. The elements of body and space are conceptually connected through the phenomenological theories of Gaston Bachelard (1969), and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1962). Additionally, the research includes the concept of site-specificity (Kwon, 2002), and theories related to social and collective space (Lefebvre, 1991). The third element, technology, is defined according to the concept of machine aesthetics, emphasising the aesthetic value of technological components. The thesis aims to integrate technology in an artwork as both a functional and aesthetic element.

The transition from theory to practice is supported by observational work, generating a database of interactive art projects. The database establishes the bridge between theory and practice-based investigation, informing the research on spatial narratives, sensory perception, interactivity, and the public’s participation.

The practice-based investigation’s point of departure is the narrative of the maze as a method, to develop a performative interactive installation that inhabits a shared space, thus emphasising both collective and individual experience. The final result is an interactive installation titled Space machine. The installation combines the materiality of space through haptic interaction and visibility of the technological elements and juxtaposes the individual with collective experience of space by staging playful, provocative and performative situations with the public.

This thesis presents the main stages of development of the concept space dramaturgy, culminating with the establishment of dramaturgical principles. These principles evolve according to stages of divergence and convergence that build up the connection between theory and practice, and the creation of a performative interactive installation. During the stages of divergence, the research broadens its theoretical and conceptual scope; whilst the stages of convergence narrow down concepts and establishes connections between the elements space, body, and technology.


James Swinson

Fred Meller