Dr Scott Palmer
University of Leeds, UK
Dr Scott Palmer is Associate Professor in Performance Design in the School of Performance & Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds. His teaching and research focus on scenography, immersive theatrical environments, and the interactions between technology and performance.
His monograph Light: Readings in Theatre Practice (2013) explores how light has influenced staging throughout history and offers a range of new perspectives on the use of light as a creative performance practice. Scenography Expanded: An Introduction to Contemporary Performance Design co-edited with Dr Joslin McKinney (Methuen, 2017) examines scenography as a site of imaginative exchange and transformative experience. A new anthology Contemporary Performance Lighting: Experience, Creativity and Meaning will be published in February 2023.
Scott is Associate Editor of the Routledge Theatre and Performance Design Journal and co-editor of Bloomsbury Methuen’s Performance + Design book series. His most recent performance projects have focused on designing audience experiences using XR and creating relational site-specific work in heritage settings, including Estate (2017) leading to the development of an experimental 360 degree interactive film for smartphones and head-mounted displays.
Current Research projects
Series Editor: Bloomsbury Methuen Performance + Design
Emerging from the darkness: light, temporality and audience experience.
This paper will examine the role of light and darkness in contemporary performance drawing on work created during and after the global pandemic drawing on examples of installation and relational performance practices where audiences share the same space as the performers. It emerges from recent writing in ‘Thinking Light’ – an Introduction to Contemporary Performance Lighting (Graham, Palmer & Zezulka, forthcoming, 2023)
The materiality of light is difficult to qualify and often eludes direct description. Light “transcends the cognitive and moves into the nonrepresentational, the realm of the affective and sensual” (Edensor, 2015 p.139).
Light is, paradoxically, an immaterial material; its materiality is obtained by proxy, by coming into contact with an object in space – and it is ever-changing. Light’s materiality is inherently bound to the spatial and temporal conditions in which it is employed but it is rarely considered as
a distinct phenomenon that serves to enrich understandings of the nature of affectivity and ephemerality in performance.
This presentation focuses on the temporality of light as evidenced in Fuel Theatre’s The Litten Trees – a national project conceived during lockdown and realised in multiple locations across the UK, and examples from contemporary relational performance work such as Punchdrunk’s The Burnt City where the temporal nature of light and darkness is a fundamental component of the audience experience.
Edensor T., 2015 ‘Light Art, Perception, and Sensation’. The Senses and
Society, 10(2), pp. 138–57.
Graham, K., Palmer, S., & Zezulka, K. (forthcoming 2023) Contemporary Performance Lighting: Experience, Creativity and Meaning. London: Bloomsbury Methuen.