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Technologies in Performance Hub

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The Hub was established in 2010 to provide a context which embraces and explores the potential and role of old and new technologies in performance through diverse disciplines.

Current projects include: The Library of Light, a research project led by Jo Joelson and Hansjorg Schmidt, is an exploration of the concept as a place to understand light’s complexity, from social and scientific perspectives, and its application within arts and culture. The Library is based at the College and will be an international resource for engaging with spatial, sensory and emotional aspects of light; it is both a platform for knowledge exchange and a repository for projects across disciplines in which light is the core subject. The project leaders are creating a network of researchers which to date include a number from the V&A Museum, Bartlett School, Southbank University and Goldsmiths, University of London. Meetings and workshops are planned for 2014 with an international symposium in 2015, the UNESCO Year of Light.

Ready Steady Light! is an annual event since 2003 for The Society of Light and Lighting, run by College staff including Rachel Nicholson, Hansjorg Schmidt and Ben Ratcliffe, in conjunction with the Society of Light and Lighting, itself part of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers. The project utilises the buildings and grounds of the campus, providing an opportunity to explore the use of light in an architectural/built environment context which would be impossible for most professionals in the sector. Ready Steady Light! is a continuation of the College’s ongoing research in creative pedagogy examining how professional practice can not only be taught for replication (vocational training), but how the creative practices of the teaching studio can help to develop and extend professional practice.

Previous now archived projects: Old Spaces for New at The Bargehouse on the Southbank, 2013, a three-day research-led industry event curated by Dr Katherine Sandys explored the way conventional and unconventional spaces are being used, re-used and re-framed into different types of story-telling visitor attractions. The sessions focused on: Animating the Exhibition Space, Performance Technologies and Dramaturgy in Exhibition Design; New Build/Re-build, looking at new buildings and converted buildings with rejuvenating and sustainable interests at heart; and Sounding NewBuildings, addressing the acoustic and implementation of sound in new builds. Professional participants included Ian Stickland, Senior Consultant and Byron Harrison, Head of Acoustics, Charcoalblue; Dan Crampton, Tate Modern; Kate McGrath, Director of Fuel; Sennheiser, “David Bowie Is…” at the V&A Museum; Thomas Syracuse, Menier Chocolate Factory; and Tim Atkinson, Entertaining Sustainability.These conversations provided space and time for professional exchange witnessed by invitees from the industry and students in training. Anatomize in 2012and Anatomize 2 in 2013, two public performance installations at the Hunterian Museum, were based on the tools and experiments of John Hunter, Fellow of the Royal Society of Surgeons, and founder of the museum in 1783; created by Iona McLeish, Ben Davies and Hansjorg Schmidt and developed with costume, lighting and sound design students where the focus of the research was both pedagogical and industry-based with a strong emphasis on communicating with a non-specialist audience.

Illuminating the Glass Ceiling, was a forum held in 2009 at RBC with the sub-title Promoting Career Paths for Women in Lighting Design; curated by Rachel Nicholson, chaired by Paule Constable (Olivier/Tony Award-winning Lighting Designer and RBC Hon. Fellow). The event brought together lighting designers, employers, professional bodies, and career advisers to address the under-representation of, and attitudes towards, women in British lighting design; and informed the development of the informal network, Women in Stage Entertainment (WISE). Rachel Nicholson, in her professional work and role as an educator/trainer, has continued to champion this cause and, as a consequence, Tonic Theatre has extended an invitation to join its Advance project, funded by Paul Hamlyn, which explores how UK theatre companies can work more successfully with female lighting designers. Memory, Stories and Senses was a collaborative art work which brought together three creative – Chrys Allen, Ollie Brennan and Ben Ratcliffe – whose research practice and specialisms – light, sound and visual arts – share a concern for the experiential and immersive. The installation facilitated the exploration of stories, senses and spaces. Theory Box was a research-led installation created by Professor Caroline Evans, a fashion historian, and Hansjorg Schmidt, a lighting designer, first presented at Symposium 2010 under the title, Invisible Ink. The initiative for the collaboration came from their interest in the spectacular, the inconsistency of perception, and the role light plays in the presentation of a visual narrative. The piece was then commissioned by Sodja Lotker to be presented at Intersection Festival in Prague, in June 2011. Passages was a performance project created by Dr Nick Hunt to provide a vehicle for research-through-practice into aspects of theatre lighting processes, as well as being an exploration of the life and work of the German-Jewish writer and critic Walter Benjamin. The project web domain now hosts ‘The Operator Connects’, an online mixed media essay that describes aspects of the research and includes video recordings of the performance.

The Society of British Theatre Designers has its Registered Office at RBC together with its journal Blue Pages, co-edited by Dr Greer Crawley, Buckinghamshire New University, and designer Sophie Jump; the former Honorary Secretary of SBTD was Iona McLeish and the current incumbent is Hansjorg Schmidt. The Society’s 2011 Exhibition, Transformation and Revelation, including items by McLeish, Schmidt, Pip Nash andRalph Koltai, international theatre designer and Hon. Fellow of the College, was mounted in Cardiff, for the Prague Quadrennial, and at the V&A Museum, 2012.

The Nick Chelton Archive is a significant collection of his lighting designs and their implementation in London, regional and international venues, together with professional papers and interviews.

Fellows and Honorary Fellows include costume designer Jenny Beavan; lighting designers, Paule Constable, David Hersey, Durham Marenghi, and Patrick Woodroffe; and theatre designer Ralph Koltai CBE.


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