Disappearing acts and spatial representation : designing 'The Heart of PQ' and 'Display' exhibition projects (2002-2004) : a thesis prepared in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Design at Massey University
This thesis investigates practices of spatial representation and is positioned at the intersection of space and performance. The thesis argues that the presence of the live body in a performance space constitutes a dilemma for its representation as well as a promise for its presentation. It mobilises Bernard Tschumi's notion of the 'event' by focussing on the actions of bodies in space, to re-formulate representation as an embodied practice. Two exhibition designs are presented and explored as research projects. The first project 'The Heart of PQ' was an interdisciplinary performance installation for the 2003 Prague Quadrennial (PQ); a four-yearly international exposition on theatre architecture and design. It explored the senses in performance and the active role that design plays in performance. The second project 'Display: remembering a performance landscape' was an exhibition at the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery, Wellington, in 2004. In this project 'The Heart of PQ' was represented as a site-specific installation, exhibiting the documentation of the event and the archival material of its design process. 'The Heart of PQ' and 'Display' are utilised as vehicles to discuss how the generation of spatial representation is re-formulated and described as an event in which embodied processes allow for a more complex engagement with spatial experience. For the design of the 'The Heart of PQ' project embodied practices of representation were developed which investigated 'prospective' aspects of spatial representation. 'Display' offered the opportunity to consider how one might work with the remains of a performance to represent the past and therefore addressed issues of 'retrospective' spatial representation.