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University of Surrey, Institute for New Media Performance Research

Code Zebra

(Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom)

The Institute for New Media Performance Research (INMPR) located at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England, provides a base from which scholars and practitioners in the university's School of Performing Arts can find support for their new media research. The INMPR also offers space and resources for collaboration with external bodies, including the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (England) and a number of key institutions in the United States and Europe. As well, the institute supports scholars and artists in writing up and presenting their work to the wider research community.

The INMPR brings artists, scholars and technologists together to create innovative new performance projects drawing on multimedia technologies. These projects are documented from start to finish (in text and digital formats) for publication and archiving with the university's Arts and Humanities Data Service. The INMPR assists researchers and project teams in liaison with the commercial sector, which might publish or market the results of research, leading to closer ties between the performance arts and industry. High on the agenda of the institute's development plans is an on-site laboratory for experimenting with a variety of digital technologies. The study of media and performance together is intended to show what is unique about "real" performances now that "virtual" performance formats are increasingly common and accessible. The INMPR aims to nurture respect for theatre and the performing arts as unique disciplines while also fostering respect for the uses of new technologies.

Lizbeth Goodman is the institute's founder and director. Goodman has chaired the OU/BBC Shakespeare Multimedia Research Project and the Gender in Writing and Performance Research Group and published numerous articles on gender and performance including Contemporary Feminist Theatres (1). She is a leading lecturer in issues surrounding virtual performing and distance learning.

Thanks to the Daniel Langlois Foundation's support, the INMPR received the Canadian artist Sara Diamond, who was able to use the institute's facilities and staff to further develop the project Code Zebra , a performance, event and Web-art investigation into art's fascination with science and science's fascination with art over the years. Diamond, the lead investigator, has explored research and development strategies in collaboration with scientists and artists in Canada, Latin America, Mexico and the United States. Veins explored were chat, debate, erotic engagement, humour, and face-to-face dialogue. On one component of the project, Diamond has worked with Joshua Portway, the well-known software developer whose video games, installations and animation work have been acclaimed internationally.

Angela Plohman © 2004 FDL

(1) Lizbeth Goodman, Contemporary Feminist Theatres (New York and London : Routledge, 1993).