Theory-Practice Collaboratory programming, created for the Art + Scholarship A. W. Mellon Workshop, is a series of carefully curated participatory, exploratory, experimental symposia. Each Theory-Practice Collaboratory creates a conceptual framework for exciting, boundary-pushing research. Drawing upon the talents and expertise of Art + Scholarship workshop participants, the series catalyzes hands-on intellectual and creative collaboration within and across the arts and humanities. Facilitating conversations between experimental scholarship, creative writing, performance, new media, digital text, and visualization studies, Theory-Practice Collaboratory workshops engage a richly interdisciplinary nexus of questions, practices, and possibilities for unsettling generic and medium-specific boundaries. Collaboratories provide opportunities to engage in collective exploration of playful, creative scholarship through such practices as performance-making, sensory awareness, digital remediation, public discourse, and relational aesthetics. Workshop leaders and participants collaboratively produce new conceptual and aesthetic possibilities, acknowledging disciplinary constraints and expectations while exploring ways that our research might take on new shapes, reveal assumptions, and prompt unexpected questions.
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MAD THEORY was an experimental and dynamic time and space to demonstrate and discuss exciting new work. The Madison Performance Philosophy Collective symposium featured diverse approaches to performance and philosophy: lecture performances, experimental talks, live art, interactive installations, roundtable discussions, durational work, and hybrid theory-practice sessions.
From an audio/noise performance theorizing queer stammers and the glitch to a relational, food-based aesthetic gesture; from a trans-digital methodology of the handmade to a performative investigation of race in visual culture; from experimental theory videos to collaborative digital poetics; from philosophy of body modification to exploration of library literacy programs, MAD THEORY featured a stunning range of interdisciplinary work!
“Mad Theory was, on April 12, 2014, a philosophy performance, but it lives on as a performance philosophy. Mad Theory is an equal commitment to play and provocation, rigorously, with judgment suspended. We felt things in our molars; we stammered. We e-poemed; we palindromed. We became molecules. We had public thoughts about our private feelings, and public feelings about our private thoughts. We laughed, sang, danced, and screamed. I probably cried, but only because I loved it so. I would do anything for Mad Theory…” — Oliver Bendorf
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MAD THEORY 2 was an exciting and dynamic art-theory-action event at the intersection of performance and philosophy. The Madison Performance Philosophy Collective symposium featured diverse approaches to theory and practice: experimental lectures, live performances, digital media, interactive installations, and participatory workshops. Participants were invited to investigate conversation as performance, relational power dynamics, social sculpture, and navigation of public space in everyday life. We danced like no one is watching, recorded the sound of our own breaths, took part in a micro-nomadic artist residency, and cultivated our own style of disruptive spect-actor-ship.
The day was action-packed with live presentations and participatory workshops, concurrent interactive installations, and a video program. With mediums ranging from sound, dance, and film to magnetic data tape, neon, and light, the programming featured experimental happenings such as collaboratively produced scripts and scores, opera of operations, and real-time poetic/musical composition; physical theatre, devised theatre, and toy theatre; and teleconferencing, Skype performance, and smartphone-based audience participation.
Activating the politics of aesthetics, projects explored urgent issues such as #BlackLivesMatter and activist performance art, incarceration and embodied abolitionist theory, and “I Can’t Breathe” and the sonic politics of breath. From queer reproduction and feminist satire to human/machine interface and cyborg consciousness; from persona, myth, and fiction to documentation, remix, and reappropriation; and from geopolitics, surveillance, and liminality to cultural and linguistic (mis)translation and (mis)communication, the programming showcased an exhilarating range of critical approaches, perspectives, and methods at the interface of theory and practice.
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