PONToon PhD Student Performs Work in Progress at XR Circus Industry Showcase Event

The Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries PONToon project PhD student Carolyn Watt, performed her work in progress piece Be my (body) guest at the XR Circus industry showcase event, May 21st at the Brighton Spiegel Tent.

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 was 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 practice, entitled XR Circus – Extraordinary Circus, a collaborative research project that brought together technologists, practitioners, researchers and industry partners. This University of Brighton and Kings College London project was supported by Driftwood 360, Without Walls, Seachange Arts, Freedom Festival Arts Trust and Lighthouse Arts.

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 digital 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.

As part of the XR Circus project Carolyn attended a series of workshops throughout February – April in Brighton and Great Yarmouth to learn about different types of immersive technologies and how these could be applied to her performance practice.

Carolyn’s piece Be my (body) guest was inspired by her PONToon project PhD pilot study where participants were proud of what their body can achieve rather than how it looks and the idea of doing something for yourself rather than being watched. Be my (body) guest considers contrasting audience perspectives of the female aerialist, exploring the notion of the gaze through the use of 360 technology, point of view video and projection.

Carolyn ‘presented a romanticised version of an aerialist as she climbed silks whilst displaying her body. Rather than being one immaculate body in the live performance space, this representation of an aerialist was disrupted by different perspectives of her body refracted across media: a camera mounted within her glittering feathered headdress replayed her perspective against the screen behind her, whilst this was live-streamed again as video 360 on Facebook.

Another iteration presented separately later saw Carolyn provide individuals with their own VR video 360 experience of being ‘her body’ in the air. This rooted them in both the real and virtual worlds through holding the silks she climbed. Both experiences sought to empower audiences by giving them different experiences and insights into an aerialist’s body.’ (Dr Kate Holmes, XR Circus Blog, 25 th May 18)

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

Videos will be available online soon here!

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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