Gloom: Scenography as Praxis of Imperceptibility

Donger, Simon (2012) Gloom: Scenography as Praxis of Imperceptibility. Doctoral thesis, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.


How and what can we discern through the aesthetic production of hazy phenomena? Although historically secreted from architectural formats and protocols, scenography deviated from them by advancing visual attenuations, the evanescence of spatial borders, and the malleability of imperceptibility, up to making black box theatre spaces.

Intersecting practices and theories from various spatial arts, the thesis inquires into the precedents and legacy of this scenographic gloom to advance an understanding of its sensory and cognitive difficulties. In particular, the work explores how the blurring of bodily and spatial substances pertains to a phenomenal domain of transformative and interactive spatio-corporeality or bodily space. In this fluctuating field, the crisis of visual legibility exerts pressures on perception, representation and language bringing them down to a speculative threshold.

By further interrogating this threshold practically and philosophically, the thesis unfolds a reconsideration of experiential and authorial subjectivity in embodied terms that constitute a vertiginous detournement of ontological and epistemological traditions. Resulting from such discursive disorientations, scenography is reposited as an architectural mise en abyme that is a mise en abyss where the gloom sheds light upon an ethical praxis of reciprocal and affective relations and beings.


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