Liveness workshop This is research:

Blog post by Micheál O'Connell

The workshop as a whole was genuinely practice-led. The way that conversations developed from this and ideas were investigated through actual activity provided a palpable example of how conventional research can be informed by less traditional academic approaches and also group work.

For example in the Scoring workshop I participated in, we first of all discussed the term itself, it’s wide and pared back interpretations. We then looked at practice examples provided by Joe Watson and Daniel Hignell who led the workshop, then to action ourselves on campus before reporting back and considering the implications further. We were asked to go off and investigate areas of the university campus, consider the signposting, barriers to movement, what conventions were directing us consciously and unconsciously and return with documentation or evidence of these activities. For my part I was interested in the directions we had been given by the workshop leaders and the relations with other members of the group, whether I should upset their expectations or do something they would not be surprised by, whether originality itself mattered. In other words as opposed to being directed by the semiotics of the architecture and actual signs I wondered about Daniel and Joe’s intentions and the situation within our small network. I made a sound recording, summarising these worries and thoughts but also discussion (alone) my feelings about one particular space within the building we were located.

Later, as a group, we chose to read together the contents of signage in different locations collectively but according to different invented rules. We were creating scores and being scored simultaneously by the building, the physical structures, directive signage, less-directive signage and each others’ opinions as well as instant communication feedback loops during the actual readings. A particularly interesting outcome was reading in front of a physics/maths study room, which contained information about ‘Pascal’s Triangle’ amongst other mundane information (depending on your disposition). This felt ritualistic and satisfying in ways which are not easy immediately to explain but as a result we certainly were paying special attention to these easily overlooked aspects of the environment, including the somewhat reassuring anomalies, errors and redundancy.  

Micheál O'Connell, University of Sussex


Liveness was a workshop run as part of the CHASE-funded 'Intimacies' training programme. Find out more about Intimacies and other workshops run through CHASE Training & Development here.