PhD Student Chosen as XR Circus Artist

The University of Portsmouth, Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries are proud to announce that PONToon project, PhD student, Carolyn Watt, has been selected as an XR Circus artist. 

Carolyn’s PhD is part funded by the Interreg 5A France (Channel) England Research project PONToon, June 2017 – November 2020, led by the University of Portsmouth UK. PONToon (Partnership Opportunities using New Technologies fostering sOcial and ecOnomic inclusion) aims to foster female social inclusion via the use of digital and creative technologies.

Carolyn has been selected as one of the XR Circus artists on the Arts and Humanities Research Council/Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded investigation into new generation immersive performance practise, entitled XR Circus – Extraordinary Circus led by a consortium including the University of Brighton and King’s College London (research partners), Without Walls, Freedom Festival Arts Trust, Sea Change Arts and Lighthouse Arts.

The project called out for circus, cabaret and outdoor arts makers and performers to be part of an exciting research project into how immersive technologies can be used to augment and/or to capture live performances.

Carolyn will work in collaboration with scientists and technicians to design and devise new 3-5 minute performances that makes use of immersive technology. The performances will be presented as works-in- progress to an audience in Brighton in May 2018.

The project will push the creative boundaries of new technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, 360 film, spatial audio, haptic technology, location based technology, and live broadcasting technology, which fits seamlessly with the aims, objectives and deliverables of PONToon, fostering digital inclusion in the community.

Carolyn Watt, aka Twisted Nymph, is a professional circus/cabaret performer and University of Portsmouth second year PhD student, her research as part of the PONToon project investigates social circus incorporating digital technologies to foster female empowerment. The social circus concept is being used as one way in which to invite participants to experience the digital world. The PONToon project will also use other workshops such as photography and film to upskill women in digital technology.

Carolyn hopes to develop her work with the PONToon project using the head camera/point of view in aerial performance, which permits the audience to take on the role of the female aerialist.

In her PONToon project PhD pilot study, female aerial students felt empowered by learning a new and difficult skill; the notion of participants doing aerial for themselves, as opposed to being watched introduces interesting contradictions around live performance and the use of digital within performance.

She aims to develop this project further through the use of 360 degree stereoscopic video to provide an opportunity for audience members to feel the depth and immerse themselves in the experience of aerial performance from the female perspective.

Carolyn continues to participate in the CCI Enterprise and Innovation team led by Professor Joan Farrer who is Principal Investigator on the PONToon project.

You can join Carolyn at the launch event of Extraordinary Circus on the 20th of February in Brighton, by registering for free here.

Carolyn’s PhD is part funded by the Interreg 5A France (Channel) England Research project PONToon, June 2017 – November 2020, led by the University of Portsmouth, CCI.


Katie Clarke

Katie Clarke is a Media Studies Student, currently on her Placement Year, working as Promotions Assistant for the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, at the University of Portsmouth.

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