Object / image / self : navigating consciousness : an improvisational practice / Sean Murray (2017)

Object / image / self : navigating consciousness : an improvisational practice

Author: Sean Murray

Course: MA Dance Performance

Year: 2017

Keywords: Improvisation in dance, Mind and body, Neurosciences, Performance analysis, Performance based research,


OBJECT//IMAGE//SELF is a Practice as Research project led by Sean Alexander Murray, excavating Antonio Damasio’s theories of consciousness as tools for improvisation. Damasio, a Professor of Neuroscience, defines consciousness as ‘an organism’s awareness of its self and surroundings.’ (2000, p.4). Through understanding how the improvisers’ Self engages with its environment, this research enquiry offers considerations to draw awareness to consciousness, so it can be utilised in improvisational practice.

By exploring how we interact with our environment, an Other, the objects that make up our surroundings, and dissecting how these interactions conjure mental images, and offer us information, this project invites the reader to view them through a lens of exploration through improvisation. Looking through a lens of examining the Self, it is an attempt at learning about the nature of how we work as whole dancing entities, mind and body intrinsically.

The first act is becoming aware, the second is deciding to act.

The outcomes of the work include, The Morning Practice, developed from considerations of Deborah Hay’s writings, to prepare the dancing self for examining consciousness. The research process also produced a number of Improvisational Devices, that were synthesised from group laboratory sessions as methods to notice consciousness and act on it. They are described and examined in the text, and are offered to the reader to experience.
As a consequence of the work, a live performed event saw the participants engage with an 8-hour durational embodiment of the practice, which aimed to fill a space with information that was excavated from the dancers’ journeys into their consciousness. This event included structural elements where the dancers would apply the Improvisational Devices, along with producing artefacts of their voyages into the mind. Examples of these artefacts are included in the appendices, along with footage of the live event itself.

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Murray, Sean. (2017). Object / image / self : navigating consciousness : an improvisational practice (Masters’ theses). Retrieved https://researchonline.trinitylaban.ac.uk/oa/thesis/?p=254