As part of the University of Salford’s Festival of Research, PhD student Aisha Hussain organised a workshop discussing the socio-economic and cultural impact of Covid on the communication of research and the creation and dissemination of art.
The workshop opened with a fascinating demonstration by PhD student Lucie Skyes exploring interdisciplinary approaches for dance practice using motion capture technology. After a short performance to demonstrate the initial findings of her doctoral research project, Lucie discussed Practice as Research methodologies using Robin Nelson’s Multi-Mode Epistemological Model for PaR (2013). Lucie then guided participants through some short tasks and there was an opportunity for participants to engage with the visualisation by responding with movement, and to reflect on the experience with free writing and free drawing. The session closed with audience responses to the demonstration and a wider discussion of the merits of Lucie’s inter-disciplinary approach.
Following this, Aisha opened the floor for a wider discussion on the impact of Covid on the performing arts and research with a focus on diversity and inclusivity. Attendees were asked to consider how the lockdown, homeworking, and rise of digital platforms such as Zoom had impacted performance and research.
Roundtable discussions highlighted the double-edged sword created by the remote, socially distanced world. On the one hand the use of Zoom has opened up lectures and performances to new global audiences and torn down some of the economic and physical barriers associated with research conferences and performance art. For those with a physical disability or limited economic means video conference software has made research more accessible. Conversely for those who lack access to the digital world the pandemic has created even more barriers to their engagement with performance art and research outputs, or indeed with education more widely. Some cannot access these resources because of financial constraints, their level of computer literacy, or a lack of ownership or access to a digital resource. This is particularly true of those on low incomes, or from low income countries, and the older generation who are sometimes excluded from the digital realm.
The panel also considered Covid’s impact on performance and research. The demonstration of motion-capture technology made by Lucie Skyes certainly shows a way forward, but not all performances can captured digitally and the roundtable discussed the surreal experience of presenting papers and performing from home; digital performance can lose some of the intimacy of face-to-face interactions.
The workshop closed with a discussion of what the post-covid world will look like. Participants considered how the use of Zoom and other video conferencing software had accelerated in response to the pandemic and how this was unlikely to recede in the future, but also highlighted the need for personal and direct interactions when disseminating research and performance art.
Aisha hopes to continue to explore the impact of Covid on the research community and the Arts. Her interests here tie into an emerging research field analysing and interpreting the socio-economic and cultural impact of Covid-19. If you would like to collaborate with her please do get it touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @aishahussain96.
By Dr Stephen Ling