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SIGHT (UN)SPECIFIC: Performance as research predicated upon deploying acts of visual negation


This paper promotes debate into varying aspects of practice that was produced as part of You Don't Need Eyes To See, You Need Vision, a recent event which presented new work by artists Lee Campbell, Adrian Lee and Carali McCall. Using performance practice-as-research, the artists interrogated the following question: How can acts exploring visual negation be used to generate public pedagogy and what may it bring to the experience of removal of sight?


You Don't Need Eyes To See, You Need Vision contributed to an area of contemporary art practice relating to how practitioners have not only made works that go beyond pure visual sensation but are wholly dedicated to non-visual aspects, often prioritising the haptic, orality, sound elements and other sensory components (Coles, 1984; Marks, 2002; Paterson, 2007). Practitioners, such as artists Artur Zmijewski and Robert Morris have deployed acts exploring visual negation [1] and blindness to inform their work's content and reception. [2]

This paper is divided into three subsections/stages that relate to a process; 1) Anticipation; 2) Action and 3) Analysis (Campbell, 2016). These clear divisions in writing styles with distinct functions provide the reader with different evaluative dimensions to the practice of deploying acts of visual negation.[3]

  1. 'Anticipation': making a set of predictions informed by theory and argument relating to visual negation and using one's intuition and experience;
  2. 'Action': executing practice based on those predictions, in order to gain experience of the operations of visual negation in practice and to lend a different understanding to its associated theories;
  3. 'Analysis': reflecting upon what happened in the last stage, considering how the practice extends the theory and context of visual negation and visual impairment in practice through embodied and emotional response.

In the first section, 'Anticipation', the past tense is used in order to describe how Campbell, Lee and McCall designed and structured the then forthcoming artwork to be included in an event deploying acts of visual negation.

The second section, 'Action', explicates a description of 'what happened' between 4pm - 6pm on Saturday August 2016 in the basement of The Queen's Head, Holborn, London. This section delivers an overview of works taking place during the event to illuminate some arising challenges and key questions for the artists both presenting and documenting their work within a contemporary fine art context. A style of writing akin to a factual report written in the past tense is adopted in order to provide narration to a series of events taking place prior, during and after the event. This strategy of recording the event using a writing-up style that is objective in tone resembles a similar strategy adopted by artist Chris Burden (1974) whose take on a police report excludes the personal.

The writing style adopted in the following section marked 'Analysis' is much more self-reflective in tone and offers the reader, by way of contrast, personal first-person embodied and emotional responses as a manner of recollection demonstrating an outcome that only practice, and not theory, could produce. The reader is provided with reflections in retrospect relating to the work produced by the artists, which are often colloquial in tone and describe their understanding and point of view at the time. The writing style is also immediate in a diaristic form and sometimes takes the form of a conversation among the artists in order to accentuate personal and emotional responses. This is in order to clarify the role and importance of practice and demonstrate how the nature of these responses speaks of practice.

The final section 'Analysis' reflects back on historical art references and compares the problems that pertain to technology and the body, exploring space-time issues that affect the site of the work and the audience/viewer and artist relationship. Comparisons and similarities are drawn between their practice and the practice of others, which operate in parallel contextual frames of reference. How their practice advances what other people have said in terms of theory is also addressed. This section also makes use of the past tense in order to look back and reflect.

Part I: Anticipation

As part of the research that informed Campbell's teaching practice in 2015, he became interested in the subject of visual negation as the result of a student with visual impairment attending one of his teaching sessions. This led Campbell to not only explore the literature field of pedagogy relating to visual impairment but to consider how artists/performance makers deploy acts of blindness in order to generate public pedagogy. In 2016, Campbell began practice as research investigating performative art practice and curating a series of events in which he invited artists to respond to themes in an essay he had written in support of his application for recognition for Fellowship of The Higher Education Academy. The first event (in discussion in this paper) was to be held at The Queens Head, London in early September 2016, followed by iteration at Metal in Southend-On-Sea in late October 2016. Both events made usage of Campbell's continual deployment within his practice of the performative lecture format (Husemann 2004; Frank 2013; Ladnar 2013). [4]

Inviting artist Adrian Lee and Carali McCall to participate, Campbell was keen to learn how Lee would respond to his provocation in light of Lee's previous work, which for Campbell, was predicated upon visual spectacle; Campbell was also intrigued to see how artist Carali McCall would respond in terms of her performative usage of her body. Not seeking to demonstrate aspects of his paper by including artworks as mere illustrations/representations of what Campbell as saying, the inclusion of Lee and McCall's input as interspersed within his paper sought to use the power of their performances as embodying and extending the lecture. In a way, this lecture dramatically utilised and punctuated the effects of what it means to be present, as well as the importance of 'being there' as both protagonists and audience members as embodied witnesses. To extend Campbell's continual usage of interruptive processes within performance, he employed an assistant (Rory Flynn) to interrupt the lighting levels throughout the delivery of his paper, which aimed to explore the relationship between the anticipation of witnessing and the disruption of the visual.

Similar to Campbell's previous work of deploying a heckler in order to rouse audience participation in his delivery of a conference paper relating to heckling, Campbell intended that this would enable the audience to not only hear theories of visual impairment but to also (momentarily) experience it. He sought to use acts of visual impairment as tactics and strategies in order to provoke audience participation to elicit a form of participation that immerses all the senses. [5]

Campbell acknowledged that this strategy (blindfolding audiences/turning the lights out for a short time) might have limits in respect of the views of Arielle Silverman, a researcher in social science and rehabilitation from the University of Colorado. In 'Simulating Blindness, Blind Darts, 'Be My Eyes' App', a January 2015 edition of BBC Radio 4's In Touch series, Silverman suggests that experiencing blindness temporarily can be counter-productive. Simulating blindness can be seen as an attempt to educate people what blindness is like and that these 'misrepresent what blindness is actually like […] people are only thrust into a few minutes not the dynamics of experiencing blindness over a lifetime' (Silverman, 2015).[6]

What cannot be overstated here is that Campbell, Lee and McCall recognised that they were approaching this subject from a 'sighted' position, which means, of course, that it lacks the viewpoint of the visually impaired. They were only able to seek to address it from one perspective: that of lecturer and/or practitioner considering the issue. This threw up a number of questions, including how can the non-visual be signified? Amongst other ways, the darkness or lighting used may incur an absence 'of something'. As a starting-point for discussion, Campbell, Lee and McCall were interested to learn how the visually impaired approach these same issues, both as teachers and communicators, but more importantly as artists. In addition, sound art is not art for the visually impaired just as paintings are not art for the deaf. How does/would this work manifest itself? Only one thing is already certain at this early stage of the discussion - the term 'visual artist' is at best outmoded and pointless and adds nothing to the discussion.

Therefore, the approach the artists took was to investigate the various qualities of live performance in order to question what it might mean to perform in the space without the 'visual' as the focus. This extends to the application of a broader understanding of how the body performs. In planning and preparing for the event, the aim was to provoke discussion based on the role of the artist, test possibilities and make the work potentially more accessible. For each performance, the essential part was to shift the experience from focusing on what was being seen to an emphasis of experience; one's individual experience, including the artist's, as well as all visually impaired and sighted members of the audience.

Discussions on different occasions led to a collaborative, supportive network of ideas; sharing thoughts of the potential hiccups, interruptions, attacks and failures. Despite the small intimate space where the event was going to take place, it is fair to say each artist had a fear of contesting pre-conceptions and misinterpretations. However, this feeling of vulnerability is also important to drive the anticipation of what could and might happen; and this is especially true for the adrenaline and excitement generated by an artwork that is presented around a particularly sensitive and complex topic.

Part II: Action

In the basement of The Queen's Head, a pub in Central London; a small gathering formed including artists and teachers interested in the subject of sitting and listening to a performative lecture by Lee Campbell entitled: 'You Don't Need Eyes To See, You Need Vision'. This was a paper put forward as a contribution to knowledge by drawing together performance as pedagogy in order to include aspects of 'sensory deprivation' in students' understanding of meaning making. In so doing, it sought to develop better inclusion for students with visual impairment. Intermeshing practice, teaching and research around issues of access, participation and education, this paper built upon previous work exploring teaching strategies for the visually impaired within contemporary art practice (Levent and Axel, 2003; Hayhoe, 2008; Allan, 2014). It also attempted to shed light upon aspects of the question: 'What are the basics that an educator needs to know when designing art programs for persons with visual impairment?' (Levent and Axel, 2003: 51). The paper can be read as a benchmark for critical engagement in its attempt to combine performative pedagogy with an emphasis on technological means, access and visual impairment.

Figure 1: Lee Campbell's performative lecture: 'You Don't Need Eyes to See, You Need Vision', London. September 2016. Photograph courtesy of Jane Grisewood

During the performance, blindfolds were given to audience members, lights were turned-off and coloured finger torches were used. Simultaneously, instructions to put on a blindfold or close one eye were bellowed through a megaphone. Throughout these changes, Campbell turned on a flashlight and continued to read his paper without faltering. The obstruction and distraction of these changes altered the flow of the lecture, particularly as Flynn moved from objectively changing the lighting to a more and more directed attempt at disruption (Figure 1). And of course the audience continued to listen and try to assimilate the information.

At a point in the reading, the lecture was punctured by the artist Adrian Lee performing the Unintroduced: FOMO@thequeenshead. A baby monitor placed somewhere in the room conveyed the artist's disembodied, unemotional description of a place. First the layout of an 'L-shaped room' is depicted, then the furniture, fixtures and fittings and finally the occupants. It becomes clear over the course of the seven-minute performance that the space being portrayed is the ground-floor bar above the basement in which the listeners are currently sitting: the bar that each audience member would have walked through on the way into the event (and which they will later exit through). The title FOMO@thequeenshead refers to the social media slang: FOMO or fear of missing out, or, for example, the ever-present worry, exacerbated by Instagram, Facebook and so on that there is always something more interesting and exciting happening elsewhere, and you are missing it (again).

Figure 2: Adrian Lee's performance FOMO@thequeenshead at 'You Don't Need Eyes to See, You Need Vision', London. September 2016. Photograph courtesy of Rosie Hallam

Campbell's paper continues to read with the lights turned on, and then turned off, ad infinitum. At a later point in the reading, among the audience, the artist Carali McCall stands up. Holding a small portable speaker, she pulls out her phone and, after pushing a few buttons, she quickly shoves it back into her pocket and asks for the lights to be turned off.

Meanwhile, from the portable hand-held speaker, the sound of someone running on a dirt track was played (running back and forth, back and forth). Then comes the sound of McCall, circling the room in the dark - once, twice, again and again. In time with practice, from learning where to better place her footing and with her eyesight adapting to the levels of darkness, the run developed, faster and faster. McCall ran past each audience member. Her shortness of breath increased and the sounds of the run grew louder, creating a more and more prominent physical presence. The audience could feel the air move and circulate as she circled the room. The worry of fatigue and possibility of falling due to the lack of light was alarming and unnerving. However, after seven minutes, the running/performance ended without incident, with the fading sounds of the artist's labored breathing still in the audience's ears.

Campbell then returned to reading his lecture. The evening concluded with an artist Q&A chaired by artist Aaron McPeake, with a focus on each artist's experience and intention.

Part III: Analysis

In relation to our performance-lecture, we consider the relationship between the first performance and recording of our event in relation to issues of body memory in connection to visual impairment. In past works, performance based work is told or written about as a past event. However, Adrian Lee's work in the event utilised the concept of witnessing. Lee suggests that 'with the visual evidence removed we are left with just the witness's description, painting a picture in words of where we are not; but without the visual how can we be so sure?' Making use of factual description in order to relay to an audience a series of events taking place in an alternative location suggests a usage of factual narrative in the style of a Chris Burden police report in order to document performance. Burden (1974) does not give a personal response to events or any indication or insight into what he was thinking during one of his performances. For example, in his recollection of Shoot (1971), he states: 'at 7:45 PM I was shot in the left arm by a friend. The bullet was a copper jacket .22 rifle. My friend was standing about fifteen feet from me' (1974: 24). The significance of Burden's strategy to that of Campbell's usage of factual narrative to write up his performances is that of adopting a style of writing that is impersonal, objective and 'almost neutral' in tone (O'Dell, 1998: 1).

Questioning the real in Lee's performance, slippages as information were gleaned. How much of the relayed information was correct? Yes the doors and tables were as described but what of the people drinking beer in the sun? How about the minor narrative arc of the animated couple that later left (together); fact or fabrication? There were two items that linked the spaces:

  1. Lee describes the photographer leaving the bar through the door to the basement, shortly after which she walked into the downstairs room.
  2. Lee describes a ceiling mounted clock and reads out the time, 4.20pm, therefore rooting the work in real time.

The work began with a formal description of the architecture before moving to the fixtures and fittings and finally the occupants. There was no title so it was left to the audience to recognise, sooner or later, the site being described. Anecdotally some recognised it immediately whereas one person didn't know until they left. What 'FOMO@thequeenshead' (the title of the work presented as part of this event by Adrian Lee) demonstrated to Lee as he performed the work was that he was not downstairs in the basement with the audience and was therefore unable to see how it was being received; 'were people chatting or listening?' and 'was the baby monitor working at all?'

Considering how performance is inherently linked to duration with roots in the 1960s definitions of performance art and Allan Kaprow's term 'happening(s)', the artworks in 'You Don't Needs Eyes to See…' could be defined as a performance that stresses the significance of the 'now' - about being there 'in' the moment. For Kaprow, 'he sees most art as a convention - or a set of conventions - by which the meaning of experience is framed, intensified, and interpreted He attends to the meaning of experience instead of the meanings of art' (Kelly, 2003: xiii). Although our event is heavily influenced and situated in the context of fine art history and the emergence of Performance Art in the 1950s and 60s, the documentation process was important; the recording of sound, the description of the performances (post event) and time to reflect on the potential understandings of the practice for future events were all used to augment our research process.

For McCall, this included a process of adopting methods used by artists such as Barry Le Va, and, as McCall recalls in her thesis: A Line is a Brea(d)thless Length (UAL, 2014), applying Merleau-Ponty's concept of embodiment to further consider how aspects of performance can frame an understanding of the haptic and broaden understanding of presence. [7] As part of McCall's research, she considers the spatial qualities of sound to define ways of representing the body in movement. Referencing Barry Le Va's, Velocity Piece: Impact Run, Energy Drain (1969-70), she was prompted to reflect upon Le Va's approach. In doing so, she experimented with ways in which particular physical qualities related to the expenditure of energy, such as velocity, speed, acceleration and rhythm and how this might inform the work. She achieved this by exploring how actions can be used as a material, using (herself) the runner to articulate a form of work that uses tactile qualities within and 'of' the space. Using the act of running, with intention to demonstrate how repeating an action over and over fosters nuances and differences, McCall's aimed to test the threshold of the physical presence of the body. She did so in order to find new limits of what performances can bring to one's experience, bringing a haptic process to involve the whole body in making the work for broader audiences.

In Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty emphasises the body as being both object and subject. The body as 'object' is how we construct the idea of a world that seems to exist 'out there', whereas the body as 'subject' emphasises our perception of how we 'feel our body' as an embodied inherence in the world. He claims that information of and from the world are perceived and received through our bodies and insists that it is only through reflection that we can gain a deeper meaning from this sense of duality. Furthermore, he proposes our perceptions of the world are woven and built upon; they change and evolve, without considering individual experience or attempting to describe and understand the body and our sense of things. In this sense external information can have little or irrelevant meaning (Merleau-Ponty, 1964: 239). Addressing the paradox of the mind and body, Merleau-Ponty alludes to how movement reveals the union of the body. He writes:

Visible and mobile, my body is a thing among things; it is one of them. It is caught in the fabric of the world, and its cohesion is that of a thing. But because it moves itself and sees, it holds things in a circle around itself (Edie, 1964: 163)

The importance of the body in movement and the oscillation between the performer and audience altering the environment ultimately underpins the study of McCall's work. This leads us to discuss the links between body as object in McCall and Campbell's work on body memory.

Throughout the lecture audiences were instructed by Campbell at various intervals to close their eyes and allow someone to blindfold them. Listening with the lights turned out thus became an extension of Campbell's previous usage of bodily slapstick in performance in order to disrupt body memory (Casey, 2000). Indeed, Arthur Koestler (1970) suggests that: 'if often repeated under unchanging conditions, in a monotonous environment they [habits] tend to become rigid and automatized' (1970: 44). Campbell's setting up of moments of visual impairment throughout his performative lecture punctuated aspects of the work of phenomenologist Edward S. Casey (2000). In this sense the performance-lecture became an extension of Koestler's premise in terms of bodily habit. Casey suggests that habitual memories help us gain a sense of orientation within our daily lives and that our bodies are bound in 'habits' (2000). [8]

As performers and witnesses, participants of Campbell's lecture were able to experience first-hand the emotional and bodily implications of anunheimlich temporality. [9] Also, by deploying acts of visual negation as interruption, Campbell argues that this (interruption) helped all those present to reflect upon what may be argued as a dominance of visuality over the other senses (Jay, 1993; Crary, 2000). This leads to a discussion of what it may mean to live in a society described as 'occularcentric' or 'dominated' by vision (Jay, 1993: 3) - a point heavily argued by audience member and artist Jane Grisewood during the discussion stage of the event. [10] Supporting Campbell's perspective of the importance of reflection is Maggi Savin-Baden, who states: 'when we are engaging with reflective spaces there is sense that we are located in an interrupted world' (2007: 69). In the discussion entitled Reflection as Interruption, she ties reflection to interruption proposing that: 'reflection can be seen as interruption because reflection tends to disturb our position, perspectives and views of the world' (2007: 69) and goes on to suggest that 'we choose to interrupt everyday actions through reflections and interrupt current stances by attempting to expose new perspectives and positions (2007: 69).

Underlining this, Campbell suggests how certain things (including the term 'interruption') are essential in learning. Indeed, reflection can also indicate how practice and subsequent reflection upon practice can make aspects of theory on practice more tangible. Moreover, and most importantly, Campbell proposes that it can highlight how reflection (provoked through interruption) can produce huge shifts in practice. In reference to his research, Campbell reconfigured reflection and interruption in terms of interruption as reflection to argue interruption as not only 'enabl[ing] learning to happen' (Fry et al., 2009: 3) but to push forward interruption as provoking an immediate reaction and call for reflection. This led him to conclude interruption as prompting a radical reimagining of practice.

Referring back to Merleau-Ponty's concept that the body is constructed 'in' and 'of' the world through movement, these theories break down the dualist idea of the mind and body. They have not only to explore the 'inside' and 'outside' notion of the body, but also to examine the body as a porous, permeable material of the world. This is a material that can be identified as a catalyst to re-examine the relationship between performer and audience member. Indeed, how much affect the presence of one will have on the other is vitally important. Expanding their forms of practice, the artists placed new emphasis on the audience's experience. Campbell, Lee and McCall embraced the durational precepts of live work and provided access to explore repetition, narratives and extensions of site/sight. Working closely with one another, they analysed, planned and presented the work, which was motivated by an awareness of each other's practice.

Considering the ways in which other artists develop artworks for an audience for both live and recorded experience, Christina Sun Kim, an artist who was born deaf, makes work often centered on what the artist describes as 'hearing etiquette' [11], behaviours she finds herself adopting to remain within the bounds of accepted social interactions in a hearing world. For Frieze Live at Frieze Art Fair 2016 Kim performed Nap Disturbance with Carroll/Fletcher Gallery. This performance grew out of Kim's experience of accidentally making noises while her partner, who works nights, tried to sleep. In it a number of both deaf and hearing performers explore the sonic range of everyday objects, from folding chairs to food packaging.

It might be interesting to consider how this work may appear from the perspective of the performers, and the different experiences of the deaf and hearing performers involved. For the latter it could be about the synchronised production of a series of crashes, bangs, rustles and so on. whereas for the former perhaps those sounds can only be understood from seeing the actions that would produce the noises. This could be seen to parallel Lee's FOMO@thequeenshead performance - Kim offers a visual representation of the mundane sounds (she) produces/d and asks us to reflect upon how they are perceived depending on their context. In contrast, Lee presents an aural representation of a recognisable location and the audience absorbs the information but is also unable to fully verify it.

Figure 3: Christina Sun Kim, Nap Disturbance with Carroll/Fletcher Gallery, London. Frieze Live at Frieze Art Fair, 2016. Photograph courtesy of Alexandra MacGilp


Since embarking on this project we have become increasingly aware of the many artists influencing and helping shape and inform such artworks that intentionally try to shift the focus of the work from visual to haptic and beyond. From past conceptual performance works, the trajectory of this field has become fascinating and vast. However, what has become most significant in this analysis and articulation of our aim was to address the visual concerns and voice opinion and debate around the outdated term visual artist.

In reference to the stated question at the start of this paper: How can acts exploring visual negation be used to generate public pedagogy and what might it bring to the experience of removal of sight? The major outcomes of the practice put forward could be argued as a pragmatic, focused and sensitive deployment of acts of visual negation to make more tangible what is at stake in terms of: (1) body memory, and disruption thereof; (2) the potential mismatch and incongruity between witnessing and non-witnessing; and (3) politics of form regarding the stature of varying methods of documentation (visual forms over sonic for instance).

Through this research, we deployed blindness, aiming to make works that negated visibility. We have identified documentation techniques and the interesting paradox of using photos and video to document and evidence the event. We have also illuminated how unclear and ambiguous the documentation is of the original performance, as can be seen, for example, in still images of Lee's performance, which highlight the 'not knowing uncertainty' of the original piece. The mostly black screen seen in the footage of McCall's performance demonstrates the atmosphere of the work, the occasional flicker of a curtain showing the air movement in the room. It is the question of the unknown that pushes the reader/audience of documentation to fill in the gaps. It is this 'slippage' between the reality and the imagination of what is happening (during the performances) or happened (looking at the documentation) and what might [be] happen[ing] that is the crux of the work.

As artists working closely together in the planning, presenting and analysing 'the event post performance', this project has motivated a different kind of method of working and awareness for each other's practice. For Metal, Chalkwell in Southend-On-Sea in October 2016 as part of Sight (Un)Specific, the performances were re-iterated with specific adaptations to the new location. Lee's FOMO pieces are, by their very definition, contra-site specific in that require the audience and the performer to be in different, albeit close locations at the same time. This means that for every performance of FOMO at a different site Lee will be required to overcome certain issues: the limitations of proximity produced by the baby monitor, or the search for an alternative site in order to instill the required 'fear of missing out'. Could this be the kitchen of a party? Feeding ducks on a pond? A sunset? At METAL Lee performed an iteration of FOMO at a venue that had no bar. However it was possible to look North, South, East and West from the second floor windows, and Lee was able to describe in real time the rest of the world, as far as the eye can see. The only other major, regular and constantly differing difficulty is Lee's ability to fluidly edit and narrate the view with a constant tone.

For McCall, Metal @ Southend-on Sea presented a different space bounded by dimensions and a larger shape of room, which altered the experience and changed the position of the audience members. This gave her the opportunity to focus on the haptic qualities of the work and focus on the physical act of running and documenting the performance with video, integrating the discipline and regime of running to test the body's physical limits. Campbell aims to extend his practice to include collaborative work, which he hopes to engage with later in 2017 with the Royal National Institute of Blind People. He believes this work has the capacity to form part of a case study that can demonstrate evidence of impact beyond an academic environment in terms of how he generates practice to the benefits of the visually impaired community as a whole, not just visually-impaired students. These outputs of practice as research will be put forward to support his argument that never has there been a time in which the meanings of access are broadened via technological mediation. By presenting this work at The Future of the Document: documenting performance City, University of London, November 2016, it affirmed some assumptions and amplified concerns as artists of how trivial and problematic 'automatic' and conventional documentation tools, such as photos and video can be. As a collective, Campbell, Lee and McCall continue to discuss anarchy against documentation.

[1] The term 'visual negation' is used throughout the paper rather than 'visual impairment'. Whilst theories relating to 'visual impairment' initially sparked Campbell's interest and awareness of what it may mean to be blind/partially sighted, as suggested later in the main body of this paper, the artists were aware of the ethical complexities relating to them as sighted persons working with visual impairment because they were sensitive as positioning non-sighted/visually impaired persons as 'othered'.

[2] Polish artist Artur Zmijewski's work Blindly (2014) explores what it means to imagine and represent without relying on the sense of sight. Robert Morris's Blind Time drawing series (1973 - 2000) involved a relationship between drawing and eliminating sight. Blindness has also received attention at C&C Gallery in London having recently held a residency programme resulting in an exhibition entitled Elbow which 'transformed the gallery space into a dynamic studio environment in order to respond to ideas surrounding the condition of blindness' (C&C Gallery, 2015).

[3] Campbell designed this process as part of his doctoral studies (Campbell, 2016). This extends to an existing model of reflective practice (Rolfe, 2001) and has been described as an 'original, practical and imaginative way of demonstrating reflective practice' (Newbold, pers. comm. 2015).

[4] In his doctoral thesis (2016), Campbell refers to his performance Lost for Words (2011) as the first time that he had tried out making a performance that started with addressing theory (in this instance Lisa Le Feuvre's ideas on the topic of Failure). This helped to punctuate his practice with elements of theory, leading to re-addressing the theory in order to reflect. He also refers to the lecture component of his project Contract with a Heckler (2013) as interweaving practical demonstrations into discussions of theory. In this instance, Campbell presented a paper on theories relating to the act of heckling and contained a planted heckler in the audience designed to interrupt Campbell in order to illuminate the spoken delivery of his paper.

[5] The underpinnings of participative art performance are rooted in the historic actions of a group of artists from New York who emerged in 1962 as a collective founded by George Maciunas. This group, called Fluxus, produced live public actions known as happenings, which involved the complicit participation of an audience. Participation often involved the audience engaging in activities that placed emphasis on the haptic and tactile, not just visual, sensorial experiences.

[6] Contained within Campbell's paper was an acknowledgement of the work of Silverman and the limitations of deploying temporary acts of blindness as a potential mis-representation of the daily realties of living with visual impairment. It also made reference to the work of Sue Blagden and John Everett (1992) who also express concerns: 'To become suddenly blind is emotionally very traumatic, and the process of adjustment can be lengthy. Individuals are vulnerable, confused, no longer able to recognize the facial expressions of close friends. They depend on others to get around, and often find themselves stuck in the 'communication gap', not able to read print, and not yet having learned Braille' (Blagden and Everett, 1992: 4).

[7] McCall was introduced to Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception through an investigation of artists working in the 1960s and the key concerns that her work addressed. See, Carali McCall, A Line is the Brea(d)thless Length: Introducing the physical act of drawing as a form of drawing. UAL, 2014; and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception. Translated by Colin Smith. (London and New York: Routledge, 2006).

[8] Casey (2000) suggests that habits help us to 'get the lay of the land' and that by setting up habitual patterns of bodily movement, they aid in the process of 'familiaris[ing] us with the circumambient world by indicating ways we can move through it in a regular and reliable manner' (2000: 151).

[9] This usage of the German term 'unheimlich' is in response to Casey's suggestion that if we disrupt (bodily) habits, we experience an unfamiliar disorientation; 'without such patterned movements, we would be lost in an unfamiliar (unheimlich) world' (2000: 152).

[10] Transcript of Q&A from 'You Don't Need Eyes to See...'; and for example, in 'The Nobility of Sight: A Study in the Phenomenology of the Senses' in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (1954), Hans Jonas suggests 'tactility has been purposefully forgotten in our culture in favour of the nobility of sight (1954: 507).

[11] This quote is from the press release for Christine Sun Kim's Nap Disturbance (2016), Carroll/Fletcher For Frieze Live at Frieze Art Fair 2016.


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Lee Campbell is an artist, performance maker and curator. He is lecturer in Fine Art at University of Lincoln and Associate Lecturer in Performance: Design and Practice, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

Adrian Lee is an associate lecturer in Performance: Design and Practice, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London and a practicing artist. Recent events include: The Material Art Fair 2016, GARAGE, Edinburgh Fringe 2015, Performance as Process, Delfina Foundation 2015 and DJART '14 Festival, Algiers.

Carali McCall is an artist who completed her MFA at Slade School of Art and PhD at Central Saint Martins, UAL; recent exhibitions include Tickner Mclusky Bell & Young Gallery 46, 2016, Folkestone Fringe Open 2014 and Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada.