Experiencing a multiplicity of self/s

Bacon, Thomas John ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9859-6946 (2016) Experiencing a multiplicity of self/s. PhD thesis, University of Bristol. [Thesis]


This thesis will explore novel applications of phenomenology to performance art, specifically body art, a form which has undergone limited phenomenological analysis in existing scholarship. It will analyse the Being of the performance artist in the process of performative action, where the material is their own, “lived body” (Merleau-Ponty 2002), focusing on how their presence is perceived, produced and experienced through spectator, space, and artist.

As a practice-as-research (PaR) PhD, this enquiry will be underpinned by a methodology that tests my proposed hypothesis (as detailed in chapter one) through qualitative data captured in phenomenological accounts (see preface). These will be documented experiences taken from my curatorial practice as the artistic director of the performance art festival Tempting Failure, and draw on my own experience as a solo artist. This method will enable access to embodied phenomenological experiences of both spectating and performing; offering comparative analysis of both the position of curator/spectator to a performance, and the body artist in action.

These accounts will be underpinned by key phenomenological theories from Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1968, 2002) in view of considering embodied performing and spectating experientially. This will offer and test the application of phenomenology in studies of performance art; with potential transferability to other performance practices. Additional insight from Martin Heidegger’s theories (2009a, 2009b), will signpost areas for future investigation. This enquiry will be contextualised by addressing existing uses of phenomenological thinking in studies of performance art by Amelia Jones (1998, 2003, 2006, 2009) and to dance and digital technology by Susan Kozel (2007, 2015), among others. Case studies from my own PaR will be discussed from both my own artistic practice and a selection of artists I have curated as part of the festival Tempting Failure, whose practices are significant to this enquiry.

The thesis questions the presence of a singular Being and the appearance of an essential Self in performance art. Instead, I propose that a multiplicity of selves are perceived through an investment in physical, psychological or aesthetic risk. This proposition will generate a new eidetic formula for the process of phenomenological perception.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design
A. > School of Art and Design > Visual Arts > Visual Culture and Curating cluster
A. > School of Media and Performing Arts
A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts
A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Theatre Arts group
B. > Theses
Item ID: 28876
Useful Links:
Depositing User: T. J. Bacon
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2020 10:59
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:49
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/28876

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.