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‘Colors Like Knives’

Ben Spatz (2018) ‘Colors Like Knives: Embodied Research and Phenomenotechnique in Rite of the Butcher‘. In Contemporary Theatre Review 27.2: 195-215. DOI:

Conversations about the epistemology of embodied practice continue unabated across the arts and humanities. Recent disputes over the epistemological status of musical compositions – and whether these in themselves may or may not constitute research – revisit and reframe, in a different context, many of the same issues raised over the past decade in theatre, dance, and performance studies. Very often the objects of analysis in these discussions are varieties of the classically conceived artistic ‘work’: a repeatable score, either well-trained or notated, that remains distinct from any particular moment of performance. Individual performance events, in contrast, are still more often celebrated on the grounds that they are too fleeting and ephemeral to be captured by the documentary mechanisms of academic research. After more than a decade of Practice as Research, Performance as Research, Artistic Research, and related concepts and coinages, there is still little consensus as to the basic methods or terms according to which such research should be framed, disseminated, and assessed…

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