Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries

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Dr Joslin McKinney

Associate Professor in Scenography and Deputy Head of School. Acting Director of Research and Innovation for 2016-17.

0113 343 8717

stage@leeds G.07

PhD, MA, PGCE, BA

Building on 10 years experience as a set and costume designer and practice-led research into scenography, I have been actively contributing to the development of scenography as an area of academic study internationally. I am the lead author of the Cambridge Introduction to Scenography. In June 2015 I was appointed to chair the international jury for the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. I am a member of the AHRC peer-review college.

Biography

I was a professional theatre designer for 10 years before joining the University. After graduating from Nottingham Trent University I was awarded an Arts Council bursary to become assistant designer at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield where I designed productions including Amadeus (dir: Clare Venables), Top Girls (dir: Jane Collins) and Canterbury Tales (dir: Stephen Daldry).

My practice-based PhD, The Nature of Communication Between Scenography and its Audiences, investigated the ways audiences respond to scenography. I devised art and performance-based methods for exploring and gathering responses to scenographic performance and used theories of phenomenology, space, psychoanalysis and art to frame and interrogate the work. In this work I propose a theory of ‘scenographic exchange’ whereby the images and objects in performance provide a site connection and meaning making which relies on the creative engagement of each member of the audience.

I am the lead author of The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography, Cambridge University Press (2009) and the author of chapters and articles on spectacle, phenomenology, the materiality of scenography and scenographic research methods which have contributed to the emerging field of scenography internationally.

I was Director of Learning and Teaching for the School of Performance and Cultural Industries from 2008-2011. I am an active member of the Association of Courses in Theatre Design and was co-chair of the organisation from 2003-2011. I am currently Programme Manager for BA (Hons) Performance Design and for MA Performance Design (starts September 2015).

I was co-convenor of the Scenography working group for the Theatre and Performance Research Association 2005 -2008, and I am currently the UK representative for the Research Commission for the Organisation Internationale des Scenografes, Techniciens et Architectes de Theatre (OISTAT). In June 2015 I was appointed to chair the international jury for the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space.In June 2015 I was appointed to chair the international jury for the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. I am a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (ARHC) peer-review college.

With Mick Wallis I was co-director of the Performance Studies international 2012 conference which attracted over 550 delegates to the University of Leeds. Mick and I also led the development of a new festival of international performance, Ludus Festival Leeds, 25 June – 1 July 2012, by bringing together key cultural providers in the city to produce 21 events aimed at a wide range of Leeds audiences.

Research Interests

Research methods for scenography

The phenomenology of scenography in performance

The spectator’s experience of scenography and the ‘scenographic exchange’

‘Immersive’ theatre and the experience of active spectatorship

Constructions (machines, devices, artefacts and settings) as part of the processes of making, presenting, witnessing and participating in performance.

Materiality and agency in scenography.

Scenography and place.

Human/technology interface; applying knowledge about scenography in contexts beyond the stage; interdisciplinary approaches

Teaching

 

Currently I am module leader for:

PECI 5502M Critical Concepts in Performance Design

PECI 5503M Research Perspectives (Performance Design)

PECI 3401 Scenographic Scheme

I also teach on:

PECI 2709 Performance Design

PECI 2704 Interpreting Theatre and Performance Histories

PECI 3701 Contemporary Issues in the Arts

PECI 5102M Research Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Responsibilities

Deputy Head of School (Performance and Cultural Industries)

Acting Director of Research and Innovation (2016-17)

Programme Leader BA (Hons) Performance Design

Programme Leader MA Performance Design

Publications

Books

  • McKinney JE, Butterworth P (2009) The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography. Cambridge University Press.

    Drawing on practice and theory of pioneering practitioners and mapping key principles and concerns of contemporary scenographic practice.

  • Brejzek T, Wallen L The Model as Performance: Staging Space in Theatre and Architecture. Performance and Design. London: Bloomsbury Methuen. (Unpublished)

    This book examines the scale model as an active participant in the staging of space in theatre and architecture. The book investigates the history and development of the physical scale model in theatre and architecture from a design development tool to an autonomous model that stages space and enables performance. This development is shown to be non-linear, thus pointing to the scale model as a unique medium that oscillates between design intention and artistic expression. This book introduces and establishes the interdisciplinary design language in and between the disciplines of theatre and architecture in relation to the scale model as the designer’s primary mode of communication. The book’s unique contribution rests with a reading of the scale model through a performative paradigm and from a scenographic perspective that acknowledges the model’s reality-producing capacity and its central contribution to ‘giving meaning to space’ (Collins 2010). Understanding performativity and the performative act as ‘the power to make a world’ (Jackson 2004:2), the authors identify the scale model as promise and physical manifestation of an alternate world and analyze the scenographic strategies employed to stage its space. It shows the scenographic strategies of scale, materiality and narrative to be central in the ‘making of a world’ within the confines of the scale model and beyond. In theatre and performance design and architecture, the physical scale model makes an appearance in two distinct phases of the design process, the first being the conceptual development phase where it is used to generate form, resolve issues of materiality and give physical manifestation to conceptual and programmatic ideas. In this phase of model making, a non-linear dialogue exists between the emerging artefact and the emerging idea, constituting an iterative and incremental method of continuous refinement. The outcome of this phase is referred to as an iterative model. In a second, more stable phase, the model is constructed and used as the representation of a finalised design, either to communicate a proposed scheme or to exhibit an existing structure. Here, the dialogue occurs between the model and that what it represents in past or future and is referred to as a representative model. In both cases, the scale model constructs and projects its own reality while anticipating a reality beyond.

Journal articles

  • Prihodova B, McKinney JE, Lotker S (2016) “Editorial for the special issue on The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space 2015”, Theatre and Performance Design. 2.1-2: 5-16.
    DOI: 10.1080/23322551.2016.1182692, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/99378/

    This special issue gathers together a collection of different perspectives and voices from the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ) that took place in June 2015. Together these articles and images represent the diversity and global reach of the reflections and conversations that PQ facilitated. Rather than attempt a comprehensive report on PQ 2015, we have aimed to capture the range of motivations, impressions and evaluations of participation in the event. In that spirit, each of the editors offers their own perspective on the significance of PQ 2015 and the aims of this issue.

  • McKinney JE (2016) “Interview with Liu Xinglin”, Theatre and Performance Design. 2.1-2: 66-72.
    DOI: 10.1080/23322551.2016.1178010, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/99376/

    Liu Xinglin is a renowned and award-winning Chinese stage designer. He won the Honorary PQ 2015 Award for Performance Design. He is Professor of Stage Design at The Central Academy of Drama, Beijing, China and he was the curator of the Chinese national exhibit at PQ 2015. In this interview with Joslin McKinney he reflects on his long-standing involvement with PQ and the way this feeds in to his practice as a designer and as a teacher of scenography.

  • McKinney JE, McKechnie K (2016) “Interview with Katrin Brack”, Theatre and Performance Design. 2.1-2: 127-135.
    DOI: 10.1080/23322551.2016.1171602, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/99375/

    Katrin Brack is an influential and acclaimed German stage designer who has become known for her minimalist approach to design using single materials; confetti, snow, fog, tinsel, balloons. Her approach to set design represents a new way of thinking about what scenography is. Where many stage designs are solid and often static constructions, Brack’s designs are fluid, responsive and ephemeral. And rather than simply offering an environment for performers, her designs seem to be another character on the stage. In this interview with Joslin McKinney and Kara McKechnie she talks about her approach to materials and how their use requires the interaction and imagination of not only the director, but the actors, the technicians and the audience.

  • McKinney JE (2015) “Scenographic materialism, affordance and extended cognition in Kris Verdonck’s ACTOR #1”, Theatre and Performance Design. 1.1-2: 79-93.
    DOI: 10.1080/23322551.2015.1024952, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/84138/

    This article addresses the theme of the ‘scenographic turn’ from the perspective of a spectator’s experience of scenography. By focusing on the materiality of scenography, I intend to draw particular attention to the role of the spectator’s body in the perception and reception of performance. The expansion of scenographic practice to incorporate forms where objects and materials are central to the audience experience requires us to rethink the ways we account for scenography. Recent interest in the use of concepts from cognitive science as a means of analysing theatre might provide some help with this. In this article I consider concepts of affordance and extended cognition to see how they might be useful in thinking through an experience of attending Kris Verdonck’s ACTOR #1.

  • McKinney JE, Wallis M (2013) “On Value”, Performance Research: a journal of the performing arts McKinney JE; Wallis M (eds.). 18.2: 1-3.

  • McKinney JE (2013) “Scenography, spectacle and the body of the spectator”, Performance Research: a journal of the performing arts Gough R; Lotker S (eds.). 18.3: 63-74.
    DOI: 10.1080/13528165.2013.818316, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/77414/

    This article addresses the operation of scenographic spectacle from the perspective of the spectator in order to consider the way the body responds to scenography. The denigration of spectacle has often been founded on its appeal to the body and the way it produces pleasurable but ultimately empty experiences. However, I propose that a reconsideration of the body as a site of perception and reception in scenographic performance might reveal the complex relationships between spectators, performance and the world. In this article, I analyse my own response to two performances; Royal de Luxe's Sea Odyssey and Verdenteatret's The Telling Orchestra in the light of theories of kinaesthetic empathy and spatial production. In addressing the alleged gap between feeling and meaning which scenographic spectacle appears to produce, it is the interconnection of the phenomenal and social aspects of the spectating body that reveals the potential for resisting dominant modes of social production.

  • Wallis M, McKinney JE (2013) “On value and necessity: The Green Book and its others”, Performance Research: a journal of the performing arts. 18.2: 67-79.
    DOI: 10.1080/13528165.2013.807170, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79786/

    This article examines entrenched debates around cultural value in neo-liberal contexts that have predominated over the last three decades; and moves on to examine how proposals for different forms of social and political structure suggest both alternative ecologies of value and a role for performance in designing them. We establish a broad frame for discussion of questions of value and culture by looking first at the current debate in the UK neo-liberal state, as exemplified by HM Treasury and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and then turn to what Baudrillard has to say about the State, general equivalence and modernity's adversarial union with Death. In traversing that range, we examine discussions of the evaluation of culture from a policy perspective alongside another set of discussions which address forms of resistance to global capitalism through ‘commonalism’ and social production. Finally, we take in both the pragmatics and the theoretical underpinnings of the left alternative scoped by Roberto Unger to see how ‘institutional contexts permanently open to their own revision’ might both support and depend on collaborative creative practices and sustain an alternative ecology of cultural value.

  • Bayliss A, McKinney JE, Popat S, Wallis M (2007) “Emergent Objects: Designing through performance”, International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media. 3.2: 269+.

  • McKinney JE (2005) “Projection and Transaction: the spatial operation of scenography”, Performance Research. 10.4: 128-137.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/77418/

    Article which draws on practice as research performance to explore the nature of the operation of scenography. Uses the concept of projection to focus on the spatial nature of scenography.

  • McKinney J, Wallis M, Popat S, Bryden J, Hogg D Embodied conversations.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79780/

Chapters

  • McKinney JE (2017) “Seeing scenography: scopic regimes and the body of the spectator”, In: Aronson A (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Scenography. Routledge. (Accepted)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/103878/

  • McKinney JE (2016) “Audiencing Scenography”, In: Zupanc Lotker S; Kuburović B (eds.) SharedSpace: Music Weather Politics. Prague: Theatre Institute.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/94887/

  • McKinney JE (2015) “Vibrant materials: the agency of things in the context of scenography”, In: Bleeker M; Sherman Foley J; Nedelkopoulou E (eds.) Performance and Phenomenology: Traditions and Transformations. Routledge Advances in Theatre & Performance Studies. Routledge.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/84139/

    The materials of scenography - space, light, sound, structures, objects, fabrics, textures and colours - play a central role in audience experience, yet the agency of these things is performance has not been given much attention. Using Merleau-Ponty's notion of the chiasm, it is possible to understand how the seer and the seen are bound in a reciprocal relationship and how reversibility between subjects and objects applies to the experience of scenography. But beyond that, what is it that objects and materials themselves might be capable of? This chapter draws on practice- led research and considers recent ideas about the capability of materials to address this question.

  • McKinney JE (2012) “‘Empathy and exchange: audience experience of scenography’”, In: Reynolds D; Reason M (eds.) Kinesthetic Empathy in Creative and Cultural Practices. Bristol: Intellect. 221-235
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/77415/

  • McKinney JE, Iball H (2011) “Researching Scenography”, In: Kershaw B; Nicholson H (eds.) Research Methods in Theatre and Performance. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 111-136
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/77416/

  • McKinney JE, Bayliss A, Popat S, Wallis M (2010) “Emergent Objects: Performance and Interdisciplinary Design at the Human/Technological Interface”, In: Inns T (eds.) Designing for the 21st Century, Volume 2: Interdisciplinary Methods and Findings. Gower.

  • McKinney JE (2009) “The scenographic exchange”, In: Allegue L; Jones S; Kershaw B; Piccini A (eds.) Practice-as-research: in performance and screen. Palgrave.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79784/

  • McKinney J (2008) “Homesick: the scenographic exchange”, In: Hannah D; Harslof O (eds.) Performance Design. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. 306-314

  • Bayliss KA, McKinney JE (2007) “Emergent Objects: Design and Performance Research Cluster”, In: Inns T (eds.) Designing for the 21st Century. Gower Ashgate. 150-165

    This chapter lays out the rationale, activities and insights of the Emergent Objects Design and Performance Research Cluster. The cluster provides a platform for the inter-disciplinary exploration of the relationship between design and performance and brings together researchers and practitioners in the fields of robotics, performance, new media, digital arts and urban regeneration. The chapter considers how practice-based research methodologies facilitate inter-disciplinary collaboration and understanding particularly in the context of the development of products and interfaces which are fluid, malleable and emergent.

  • McKinney JE (2002) “Scenography: Practice, Research and Pedagogy”, In: Griffiths M (eds.) Theatre Design Research1 Exploring Scenography. Society of British Theatre Design. 65-72

  • McKinney JE (2001) “Stage design as acting machine: constructing theatrical reality”, In: Wierzchowska A (eds.) Tradition and innovation in theatre design. Jagellonian University, Krakow, Poland. 44-49
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79785/

Conference papers

  • McKinney JE, McKinney JE (2013) The Mask of Spectacle. Layering Reality: The Right to Mask (Prague Quadrennial symposium) (Unpublished)

  • McKinney JE (2011) The materiality of performance and the mediation of memory. Performance Studies international (PSi) conference (Unpublished)

    Josef Svoboda described the way his scenography worked as ‘a confrontation between the spectator’s experience at the moment of performance with his experiences in the past, now awakened by the performance’. The creation of this fertile ‘psycho-plastic space’ was brought about through the interplay between space and light and kinetic stage elements, and although an assessment of the full impact of the work needs to be considered alongside all the other elements of the productions (especially the text and the performers), the suggestion is that the materials themselves are a crucial part of the mediation between the performance and the audience. Meanwhile, and through much less sophisticated technology, Tadeusz Kantor developed a theatre of memory where space is conceived as a dynamic, charged with energy and where objects, even the most abject and useless materials, are made to engage and activate the imagination of the audience. Here again, the materiality of performance is a machine for memory and experience. This paper focuses on the material and sensuous nature of performance and the audience experience which that might afford. It considers how theories of spatiality, embodied understanding and the operation of the artwork can account for the work described above and whether this could usefully extend contemporary understanding of the materiality of performance and its potential impact on audience experience.

  • McKinney JE (2010) Participation in scenographic performance: How might the materiality of performance provide a site of collective and creative interaction?. Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) (Unpublished)

  • McKinney J, Wallis M, Popat S, Hogg D, Bryden J (2009) Embodied conversations:Performance and the design of a robotic dancing partner. Design Research Society conference Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Hallam University.: 111/1-111/16.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/74695/

  • McKinney JE (2008) Ethical dimensions in the creation and reception of scenography.. Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) (Unpublished)

  • Wallis M, Popat S, Bayliss A, McKinney J, Bryden J, Hogg D, Godden M, Walker R (2007) SpiderCrab and the Emergent Object: Designing for the Twenty-first Century. dux08

  • McKinney JE (2007) The Nature of Scenographic Communication: artist, audience and the operation of scenography. The Stage and the Visual Arts: Past, Present and Future, International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR), Scenography Working Group International Conference on Scenography
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/77417/

  • McKinney JE (2006) The Scenographic Exchange. Performance Design Symposium (Unpublished)

  • McKinney JE (2006) Scenographic practice as research: pursuing the exchange event. Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) (Unpublished)

  • McKinney JE (2005) Exploring the Nature of the Scenographic Exchange. Practice as Research in Performance (PARIP) International Conference (Unpublished)

    This paper outlines how, using my own scenographic practice,I am tracking the ways in which scenography which is perceived by its audiences and the extent to which the experience and impact of performance images can be articulated.Key questions are: How do members of an audience experience scenography? How can audiences’ responses to scenography be gathered? What kinds of impact or significance are attributed to scenographic images? How does a phenomenological experience of an image develop and resonate? In what ways do audience members extend or re-imagine scenographic statements?

  • McKinney JE (2005) Projection and Transaction: the scenographic exchange. Theatre and Performance Research Association inaugural conference (Unpublished)

    This paper explores the relationship of aesthetic performance to the natural and the everyday and reflects on the process of crafting and receiving scenographic images.

Internet publications

Performances

  • McKinney JE The General's Daughter. DVD 3 Dec. 2000

    A performance devised as part of a practice-based PhD enquiry into the nature of the scenographic image and its communication to audiences. Performed for an invited audience of academic and professional peers.

  • McKinney JE Beneath the Forest Floor. 13 Dec. 2003

  • McKinney J Forest Floor. 7 Dec. 2000

  • McKinney JE Homesick. DVD 5 Dec. 2000 (Submitted)

    A piece of practice as reserach investigating the nature of the 'scenographic exchange' bewteen scenography and audiences.

  • McKinney JE Beneath the Forest Floor. 13 Dec. 2026

  • McKinney J Forest Floor. 7 Dec. 2000

Research Projects & Grants

Emergent Objects – research project drawing on performance knowledge to explore and articulate the emergent nature of the interface between technological object and human that is fundamental to the development of new design thinking and practices

Digitalis – a teaching and learning project looking at the use of digital technologies for creative reflection

Research Centres & Groups

Audience Experience and Engagement

Audience Experience and Engagement

 

Place and Performance

Place and Performance

External Appointments

2016 – Co-editor, special issue on the Prague Quadrennial, Theatre and Performance Design journal, 2:1-2

2015 – 2018, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) peer-review college member

2015 – External examiner PhD candidature at Central School of Speech and Drama

2014 – 2015, international jury member for the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space

2014 – External examiner for PhD candidatures at Birmingham City University, Aalto University, Finland and Aberystwyth University, Wales.

2014 – Co-director, Performance, Place, Possibility international symposium (part of Ludus Festival Leeds programme) Fri 4 April, University of Leeds

2013 – Co-editor, special issue ‘On Value’, Performance Research journal, 18:2

2012 – present, UK elected representative for Research Commission of the Organisation Internationale des Scenografes, Techniciens et Architectes de Theatre (OISTAT)

2012 – Co-director, Performance, Culture, Industry (Performance Studies international conference, June 2012, University of Leeds

2011- present Co-director of Ludus Festival Leeds, biennial festival of international performance and community engagement

2011 – 2013 Member of the Board of Directors for Performance Studies international (PSi) and co –director of PSi annual international conference in Leeds, 2102

2009 -2010 External advisor to University of the Arts, London (Central St. Martins) for the review and re-validation of their UG and PG provision in theatre design and scenography.

2005 – 2008 TaPRA co-convenor of Theatre & Performance Research Association (TaPRA) scenography working group  and co- organiser of TaPRA annual conference, Leeds 2008

2004 – 2011 Vice- chair of the Association of Courses in Theatre Design

2015 – 2018, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) peer-review college member

2014 – 2015, international jury member for the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space

2014 – External reviewer for PhD candidatures at Birmingham City University, Aalto University, Finland and Aberystwyth University, Wales.

2014 – Co-director, Performance, Place, Possibility international symposium (part of Ludus Festival Leeds programme) Fri 4 April, University of Leeds

2013 – Co-editor, special issue ‘On Value’, Performance Research journal, 18:2

2012 – present, UK elected representative for Research Commission of the Organisation Internationale des Scenografes, Techniciens et Architectes de Theatre (OISTAT)

2012 – Co-director, Performance, Culture, Industry (Performance Studies international conference, June 2012, University of Leeds

2011- present Co-director of Ludus Festival Leeds, biennial festival of international performance and community engagement

2011 – 2013 Member of the Board of Directors for Performance Studies international (PSi) and co –director of PSi annual international conference in Leeds, 2102

2009 -2010 External advisor to University of the Arts, London (Central St. Martins) for the review and re-validation of their UG and PG provision in theatre design and scenography.

2005 – 2008 TaPRA co-convenor of Theatre & Performance Research Association (TaPRA) scenography working group  and co- organiser of TaPRA annual conference, Leeds 2008

2004 – 2011 Vice- chair of the Association of Courses in Theatre Design

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Current:

Xristina Penna – ‘Applications of cognitive science in scenographic reception and processes’

Katherine Graham – ‘Scenographic Light: towards an understanding of expressive light in performance.’

Gillian Knox – ‘Appropriating the ‘real’: ethical experiments in the creation of fictional documentary performance.’

Kelli Zezulka – ‘The language of light: how lighting designers use language and exercise agency in creative collaboration.’

Agnieska Wlazel – ‘Facilitating audience engagement with (in) the arts through digital technology.’

 

Completed:

Katie Beswick – ‘The council estate in performance: how do performance practices attempting to engage with the place of council estate contribute to the production of such spaces?’ (completed 2014)

David Shearing – ‘Audience immersion and the experience of scenography’ (completed 2015)

 

External examining:

I have examined PhD candidatures at

Birmingham City University, UK (‘Scenography in Museum Design’)

Aalto University, Finland (‘Shylock. Trial. Venice: Corrupt Imagining in The Merchant of Venice’)

Aberystwyth University, UK (‘The Object as Post-dramatic Gesture’)

Central School of Speech and Drama, UK (‘Fabricating Alternative Realities: the craft of queering costume design’)

 

PhD Thesis

The Nature of Communication Between Scenography and its Audiences

Links

I am co-director of Ludus Festival Leeds  http://ludusfestival.org/

 

 

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