I'm the Programme Director of the MA Light in Performance at Rose Bruford College and am deeply committed to collaborative, action research in working, learning and teaching. I continue to explore ways to research effectively and meaningfully across both design and academic practice. In my design work, I am particularly interested in cross-disciplinary knowledge exchange and how we can learn from each other's practice. As an academic, my research centres on the dramaturgical quality of light and how light impacts on an environment.
I'm talking about my use of light to Professor Roger Kneebone in his excellent Countercurrent podcast series:
SHARP stands for Simulation-based Holistic Approach for Reducing and Preventing Knife Violence. The project is led by Professor Roger Kneebone at Imperial College London. It is workshop based and travels into schools and community centres around London. Simulation is used to show young people the impact of knife crime by enacting a stabbing, an operation, and recovery on a ward. The cast includes a puppeteer, a medical illustrator, medical staff, and me as a lighting designer working in live performance.
My research interest centred on how light can be used to support the simulation of a traumatic real-life event, at the intersection of art and science. What is the role of theatrical lighting outside of performance spaces? How does an audience that is not conditioned by the context of a performance, interact with light? How can my knowledge of light in performance be helpful to surgeons, ambulance crews and other medical staff? The workshops usually happen in spaces where there is little control of ambient light so a lot of my work initially was to work with the team on how we can control light better, by looking at how we place scenery and props, where we should put the audience, and how we can remove clutter and distraction. This holistic approach to lighting allowed for the sharpening of focus and we moved towards creating a looking machine that was then enhanced by the theatre light, which allowed me to sculpt the operating sequence and enhance the ambulance and recovery sequences with more theatrical effects such as the flicker of the ambulance's blue light or a ray of sunshine on the recovery room. In combination with the hyper-realistic simulation and the venues, these simple effects acquired a surprisingly powerful impact.
Reboot is a series of workshops run by the clod ensemble, introducing subject specific skills and language to a group of non-specialists. I have run a series of practical workshops for the Reboot programme on working with light, at studios in London and Berlin as well as, during the pandemic, on Zoom. De-mystifying light and sharing practice has strongly informed the writing of the MA Light in Performance. I also use experiences from the workshops and my design work to give talks and papers on light at academic and industry conferences and symposia.
The Library of Light is an ongoing, practice based research project. It is a repository for the interdisciplinary investigation of light. From writings to artworks, designs, installations, and technical drawings, to images and artefacts, this growing collection explores the archiving of light. It is currently based at Rose Bruford College in London.
The Library of Light aims to celebrate, promote and open access to the creative use of light across disciplines and media. The interdisciplinary scope of the library aims to demonstrate the breadth of lighting practice and its impact on our creative and cultural history, and develop our understanding of light as a creative medium. As a framework, the library can create opportunities for the commissioning of new works, presentation and exhibition of its collection, as well as being a research tool and platform for practitioners, students and industry members to engage with applications of light from its earliest pioneers to emerging and established practitioners of the present day.
Traces is an ongoing research project into the process of archiving and rendering light works. The project considers seeing a performance as an embodied act, triangulating seeing, spectatorship and mis-en-scene. The role of light in this process is considered through the creation of a light installation within the presentation space, inviting participants to consider how light is used to construct a meaningful view, and how this view may be recorded.
Furthermore, Traces takes the form of a light performance that proposes situatedness as a determinant of what and how we see. How do we frame and structure vision, and how can this be recorded and processed through analogue experience as well as digital record? How can we mediate and document light?