Performing Science: Seeing the Unseen

Date: Friday 20 April 2018

You are warmly invited to the following TaPRA Interim Event on Performing Science: TAPRA Performance and Science Working Group Interim Event Jodrell Bank Observatory, University of Manchester Friday 20 April 2018, 12.30-4.30pm Performing Science: Seeing the Unseen The Observatory is home to the giant Lovell Telescope, a potent and iconic symbol of our attempts to see and understand the cosmos. As the site for our second Performance and Science interim event, the observatory offers a productive metaphor for thinking about performance in relation to scientific aspiration, making the invisible visible, visualizing technologies and scale.  The session will be framed by short provocations from Dr Paul Johnson (University of Wolverhampton and author of Quantum Theatre) and Dr Alex Kelly (Third Angel Artistic Director, currently touring 600 People, his show about astrophysics). These will be followed by the opportunity for participants to share their responses and their own research, along with some time to explore the Observatory. Paul Johnson’s provocation: Science can be thought of as making the invisible visible: radio telescopes in the MERLIN array (of which Jodrell Bank is a part) have observed M87 galaxy, at a distance of just under 55000000 light years; electron microscopes magnify their subject 10000000 times; cloud chambers show the traces of ionising radiation; neutrino detectors can discern almost intangible particles, billions of which pass through our bodies every second without our notice. Whilst performance might be a contested concept, developed through a series of disciplinary dialogues, the origins of it is are as a human activity. What I would like to explore in this provocation is how performance, as a human activity, can connect with the scale of investigation with which science engages. How can performance and science meet in a constructive interference, without one becoming subservient to the scale of the other? Alex Kelly’s provocation: How does it make you feel? In Third Angel we’ve always said that we make work about the things that fascinate us or bother us. The stuff your brain returns to when its meant to be thinking about something else. That might be personal relationships and domestic details, or it might be circadian rhythms, timezones, cartography or the fact that the Voyager spacecraft are, you know, actually out there, right now, at almost incomprehensible distances from the human beings who built them. We explore these ideas through conversations and collaborations with specialists and experts in their fields: psychologists, cartographers, astrophysicists. Our aim with these projects is to make something that responds to the emotional, human impact that their research has. Participation fees: £20 (per TaPRA & non-TaPRA member) and £10 (per TaPRA and non-TaPRA PG), which includes lunch and refreshments at the Observatory. Please register for the event here: Further details about the Observatory and travel to the site are available here: There are postgraduate bursaries available for the event. Please contact Gianna Bouchard ( for further information. We hope to see you there! Best wishes, Alex, Gianna and Simon (Co-organisers: Alex Mermikides, Gianna Bouchard and Simon Parry)  

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