Interdisciplinary Spatial Practices: Site and Journey in Performance and the Contemporary Arts (DRA2063)

Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims: 1. to interrogate 'site' and 'journey' as they stand in contemporary performance and interdisciplinary spatial practices and to examine potential relationships between artist, spectator and non-arts space; 2. to explore a range of strategies available to the site-based artist by borrowing models from a wide range of spatial discourses (performance, installation and public art, architecture, archaeology, geography, cartography, etc.); 3. to give participants opportunities to extend their practical, intellectual and creative abilities through integrated research and practice.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Research, understand and practically draw on spatial theory across multiple disciplines
  • 2. Develop informed, coherent strategies to generate arts practice for a range of spatial contexts
  • 3. Contextualise, reflect on and analyse practical, site and journey-based work

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Relate to others in theatrical (or inter-disciplinary) processes and performances - to work effectively with others in small task-orientated groups and to initiate and sustain creative, analytic and interpretative work within strict time limits and basic technical competence
  • 5. Uilise research tools effectively and to translate theory into practice
  • 6. Apply library and IT skills in independent additional research
  • 7. Contribute research to small groups in effective presentations - to evaluate visual evidence and analyse, critique and manipulate complex material
  • 8. Engage critically and analytically with physical discipline - the development of thoughtful creative processes and understanding of physicalisation in performance
  • 9. Explore theoretical concerns through practice, and vice versa, and to synthesise findings in practical and written tasks - the ability to interpret research into physical practice and vice versa.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. Develop personal research skills using personal initiative - to set personal objectives and to identify and evaluate personal learning strategies
  • 11. Develop group cooperation skills, including the ability to give and receive constructive critical feedback and to improve communication skills and analytic abilities in discussions
  • 12. Develop confidence in performance skills and presentation, both of dramatic (or inter-disciplinary) practice and researched material
  • 13. Express and communicate creative ideas and images - ability to initiate and sustain creative work, both group and solo
  • 14. Collaborate in various groups and group sizes - to learn elements of teamwork and presentation
  • 15. Balance between self-direction and collaborative work - self-management, collaborative working skills, problem solving, critical analysis and valuing own and others' ideas and beliefs

Syllabus plan

Weeks 1-2 (INTRODUCTION): The module will begin with practical sessions (and one small research seminar task), designed to introduce participants to a range of key site-based practitioners and methodologies.

Weeks 2-7 (TOOLKIT): The central phase of the module will equip participants with a number of methodological 'tools' to enable them to generate small-scale, site-based experiments for non-arts sites around the city of Exeter. 'Layers' of sites encountered will be revealed through reference to historical documentation, site usage (past, present and/or possible future), found material (text, objects, actions, sounds, etc.), anecdotal evidence (collected from members of the community), personal association, mytho-geography (questionable data relating to site) and site morphology (physical and vocal explorations on site). Participants will explore performance and interdisciplinary practices in different spatial contexts (e.g. industrial/commercial, public/private, inside/outside) through different contracts of engagement with spectators (e.g. passive/interactive, intervention, guided walks/maps/audio journeys). Indicative foci for practice are: text and site, personal space work, spatial frameworks, peripatetic and journeying practices, and virtual space. Research and practice will develop simultaneously, as participants translate the former into demonstrations and practical assignments.

Weeks 7-10 (SYNTHESIS): Staff-led sessions at the start of this phase of the module will demonstrate examples of how to draw on multiple 'tools' encountered during weeks 2-7 simultaneously. Alongside this, structured seminars and individual tutorials, will facilitate the research and development of final, assessed practical work. Choices made in the creation of the work should be appropriate to context, and be relevant to areas of study encountered on the module. Ambition and sense of enquiry are also important. Staff and peer feedback is an integral part of the development process. This phase will culminate with the presentation of self-directed sited works by the participants, who will also submit an abstract (comprising a set of research questions appropriate to context/audience, a research context and a set of working methodologies) to the module convenor in advance of the final practical work.

Weeks 10-11 (CONCLUSION): The final staff-led phase of the module will comprise critical feedback relating to the final practical work, preparation for the contextual analysis (to be written over the Easter break, and submitted during the first week of the Trinity term), and concluding staff-led, group practice. CONTEXTUAL ANALYSIS: Each participant produces a written analysis, which should communicate a contextualised understanding of the final piece of work as site-based performance or interdisciplinary practice, and critically reflect on and analyse the processes leading to it. Individual research and creative exercises will be allocated to private study time. These will include reading, keeping a personal log, creative tasks across a variety of media and walking. Most sessions will be conducted off-campus.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities66Weekly staff-led sessions
Scheduled learning and teaching activities33Weekly group-led independent sessions
Guided independent study201Preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short reports to full group5-10 minutes1-3, 5-15Verbal feedback
Abstract for final practical work1 sheet of A41-3,5-10,13,15Written and oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Final practical work40Usually 20 minutes 1-15written and verbal feedback
Contextual analysis (essay)40 3,000 words1-3,5-10,13,15written feedback
Continuous assessment 20Continuous 1-5,7-15verbal feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Final practical workFinal practical work 1-15Referral/deferral period
Contextual analysis (essay)Contextual analysis (essay)1-3,5-10,13,15Referral/deferral period
Continuous assessment Continuous assessment 1-5,7-15Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Bachelard, G. (1969) The Poetics of Space, translated from French by M. Jolas, Boston: Beacon.

Careri, F. (2001) Walkscapes: Walking as an Aesthetic Practice, Barcelona: Gustavo Gili.

Coates, N. (2003) Guide to Ecstacity, London: Laurence King Publishing.

Cresswell, T. (2004) Place: A Short Introduction, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

de Certeau, M. (1988) The Practice of Everyday Life, translated from French by S. Rendall, Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press.

de Oliveira, N., Oxley, N. & Petry, M (ed.) (1994) Installation Art, London: Thames & Hudson.

Dosinger, S. (2008) Space Between People: How the Virtual Architecture Changes Physical Architecture, London: Prestel Publishing.

Harmon, K. (2004) You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination, New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Hill, L. & Paris, H. (ed.) (2006) Performance and Place, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kaye, N. (2000) Site-specific Art: Performance, Place and Documentation, London: Routledge.

Long, R. (2002) Walking the Line, London: Thames & Hudson.

Pearson, M. (2010) Site-Specific Performance, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Pile, S. & Thrift, N. (2000) City A-Z, London: Routledge.

Sinclair, I. (1997) Lights Out for the Territory, London: Granta.

Templeton, F. (1990) YOU - The City, New York 1990.

Thompson, N. & Sholette, G. (2004) The Interventionists: Users' Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Whybrow, N. (ed.) (2010) Performance and the Contemporary City: An Interdisciplinary Reader, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wilkie, F. (2002) 'Kinds of Place at Bore Place: Site-Specific Performance and the Rules of Spatial Behaviour', New Theatre Quarterly, No. 71, August, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 243-260.

Wrights & Sites. (2006) A Mis-Guide To Anywhere, Exeter: Arts Council England/CCEP

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Selected websites of professionsl site-based practitioners, and associated blogs, wikis, podcasts, audio-tours, iTunes, etc.  Selected social networking sites. Second Life and other online virtual environments.

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date

March 2012

Key words search

site, space, place, site-specific, spatial practices, journey, performance, installation, public art, architective, archaeology, geography, cartography, virtual worlds