Digital Performative Encounters

Digital Performative Encounters

Since the beginning of the MA journey I have been acclimatizing to digital encounter. Engagement with the digital has been amplified by necessity due to various iterations of lockdown due to Covid 19. Initially I utilised it for dialogue.

My work in Yr2 with the Three Sisters, the Triple aspect performance with 3 Capes, experimented with the relational objects and an invitation to intra-act. It was a set of rather binary transactions – Objects, loose instructions, video, a text element provided by a writer all combined in a single digital outcome.

Virtual Talk with Stefan Schaffeld

Collaborating with Stefan Schaffeld during summer 2020 offered deeper opportunities to experiment with a live and in motion method of creative dialogue/response. It did a lot to allow me space to see/hear myself within a digital work. The trust I have in Stefan and his modes of practice made it easy for me to engage freely.

Photos of PC Screen documenting ‘Echoed Structure:Structure Echoed” Foster, Foster, Mitchell 2020

The visual-material-verbal dialogue showcased in the Facebook Live broadcast of “Echoed Structure: Structure Echoed” excited me. The potential of this new improvised theatre offered an opportunity to visually and conceptually experiment outside of ‘institutional narratives and hierarchies’ (Foster/Foster/Mitchell) and subvert the Zoom platform to more creative purposes.

New ways of dialogue – through action, conversation and making, matter to my practice. I proposed a session, inspired by “Echoed Structure: Structure Echoed” to my art group. The things made in the Zoom Performative making session 1 embody a collective portrait of our group AAEX (Art as Exchange) as opposed to just illustrating the work made in session. This method of working united a variety of artists from different disciplines together and created a momentary sense of belonging. Feedback from the group was positive enough to engage in a second session.

In the Zoom 2 session our host was performance artist Niamh Hannaford She had collaborated with us in the first one during her time as artist in residence in Creative Spark. She proposed to choreograph the second session using the theme ‘choose blue or red’. She curated the digital space, moving us in an out of the main screen and directed the titles and text on each block.

My role was one of blind participation in the second Zoom making session. I was double booked – a training session and this making session. I was simultaneously present in both, my ears, eyes face and left hand attended the training via the PC. My right hand only present in the AAEX making session via my phone. Each place vied for my attention and I won’t lie – it was stressful being in both places for two hours. Yet I was curious to know where it would bring me. We will have a third session in December and I hope to survey the participants afterwards to collate some feedback on this new way of working together as a group.

On November 3rd myself and Jo attended this Seminar recommended by Kimberly. It was a thought provoking session which explored new ways to look “at how arts practitioners interact with digital interfaces to build affective and inclusive connections, for emotive and interactive learning environments.” (Matthews and Gilbert). I thought about how the cameras on/off option added another variable to the mix. From the position of the host and also the participant. For the host – does it generate a kind of sadness, an existential dread and emptiness? The type that is experienced when talking out loud alone in a room. From the participants perspective there could be comfort in the anonymity.

“The online disinhibition effect establishes a link between anonymity and online self-disclosure, such that under conditions of anonymity, online communicators will be more likely to disclose more information that is more personal than one would expect in FtF contexts.” (Hollenbaugh and Everett)

I host a collaborative Zoom class with 3 others to various community groups in our county. We alternate with mindfulness, creative writing and art. On the weeks I am not presenting I participate (entirely by choice). Designed with ‘for beginners’ accessibility in mind, I have found joy and relaxation in the shared time journaling together. For those living alone, with impaired mobility, the chance to participate in something is vital for well being – aspiring to the same best practice as Goldsmiths “inclusive connections, for emotive and interactive learning environments.” (Matthews and Gilbert).

The shifting agency I experience that occured/occurs across all these different events interests me greatly. Reflecting on them is helping me understand the slippage and shift of role in my practice, in areas of digital and face to face relational intra-actions. How maybe their essence is one in the same (so stop wrestling with it Susan), and that nurturing human connection though art is at it’s core.


Foster, K., Foster, K and Mitchell, V. (2020) ‘Pears, pistachios, pencils and punctuation: Performative encounter and the art of conversation’, Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 13:2, pp.169-186. London

Hollenbaugh E., and Everett K., (2013) The Effects of Anonymity on Self-Disclosure in Blogs: An Application of the Online Disinhibition Effect. Online at: [Accessed 14th November 2020]


AAEX Youtube channel:

Matthews and Gilbert, (2020) Affective Digital Presence in Creative Practice [Accessed 3rd November 2020]

Schaffeld, S (2020) Things