Paul Simpson

MA (1st class) University of Glasgow, MSc (Distinction) University of Bristol

Contact details

Office: Browns
Tel: 0117 3317314
Fax: 0117 9287878
Email: p.a.simpson.05@bristol.ac.uk

Research interests

  1. Cultural Geographies of practice, performance/performativity, and everyday life, specifically in relation to the performing arts and music.
  2. Philosophies of the body and embodied practices, in particular through an engagement with the works of Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Luc Nancy, Friedrich Nietzsche, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Edmund Husserl, and Henri Lefebvre.
  3. Experimental Visual and Ethnographic Methodologies and their potential for engaging embodied practices, the organization of public space, and acts of attention within such space.

Thesis

‘Ecologies of Street Performance: Bodies, Affects, Politics’ (working title, ESRC funded, supervised by JD Dewsbury)

My research draws on the recent turn to practice in human geography, and particularly the work of non-representational theory and understandings of the post-phenomenological, in the examination of the practice of street performing. My interest in street performance is threefold:

  1. Street performance and everyday life
    In this section of my thesis I examine the relation of street performance to the everyday life of the city, specifically in relation to the spatio-temporal organization public space. I examine the intervention street performance makes into the everyday, and the resultant ways in which street performance is legislated for and against; how such an intervention becomes re-habitualized. In doing so, I develop the existing literature on public space through an examination of Deleuze's ‘Geoanalysis’ and his related notions of territoriality, and also by draw on and develop the work of Lefebvre and his ‘rhythmanalysis’.
  2. The street performing body
    In this section of my thesis I examine the embodied experience of street performing. Drawing on the works of Deleuze, Nietzsche, Merleau-Ponty, Nancy, and Serres, I narrate my experience of street performing in Bath, Bristol and Glasgow, paying specific attention to the affective (im)material relations present in the playing out of such an embodied practice - between fingers and instruments; coins and hats; ambient spaces, pedestrians, and my body; and so on - in an attempted to outline an understanding of a ‘performing’ body that is not predicated on an intentionally performing subject.
  3. Audiencing
    In the final section of my thesis I am interested in the street performance audience and specifically the acts of audiencing it undertakes given the lack of stage-theatre style formalism in the organization of performances. Firstly, I develop an understanding of how pedestrians becoming aware of street performances through an engagement with the works of Husserl and Deleuze on passive and active syntheses. Secondly, through an engagement with the work of Nancy, I develop an approach to the study of listening that is not predicated on the pursuit of meaning or signification, but rather with the processes of subjectification that occur in our bodily being-with sound.
These themes are held together and given consistency by an ‘ecological perspective’ which pays attention to the complex relatedness of these practices with and within the environments in which they take place. The empirical elements of this research - being ethnographic in nature - are based in Bath (but also on occasion other sites in the UK including Bristol and Glasgow).

Publications

Simpson, P. (2009 - forthcoming) ‘Falling on Deaf Ears: a post-phenomenology of sonorous presence’. Environment and Planning A.

Simpson, P. (2008) ‘Chronic Everyday Life: Rhythmanalysing Street Performance’. Social and Cultural Geography, 9:7 pp. 807-829.

Simpson, P. (in draft) ‘The Spatiality of Performance: Discourse, Materiality, and the Embodied Experience of Street Performing’. Copy available on request.

Simpson, P. (in preparation) ‘Theatre without separation: or, on saying ‘I love you’ to a street performer’. Copy available on request.

Conference papers

2009 ‘The affection of the object: a post-phenomenology of becoming aware’. Presented at ‘Visuality/Materiality: Reviewing Theory, Method and Practice’, The Royal Institute for British Architects, London, (9-11th July).

2009 ‘Theatre without separation: or, on saying ‘I love you’ to a street performer’. Presented at Living Landscapes: An International Conference on performance, landscape, and environment, Aberystwyth University, (June 18-21st), in the panel ‘Landscapes of Encounter’.

2009 ‘Theatre without separation: or, on saying ‘I love you’ to a street performer’. Presented at the AAG Annual Conference 2009, Las Vegas (22-27th March), in the session ‘The Limits of the Body’.

2009 (co-written with Sebastian Abrahamsson) ‘Introducing the Limits of the Body’. Presented at the AAG Annual Conference 2009, Las Vegas (22-27th March), in the session ‘The Limits of the Body’.

2008 ‘The affection of the object: a post-phenomenology of a glance and becoming aware’. Presented at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2008, London (26-29th August), in the session ‘Non-representational Geographies: implications’.

2008 ‘“Falling on Deaf Ears”: A post-phenomenology of sonorous presence’. Presented at the AAG Annual Conference 2008, Boston (15-19th April), in the session ‘Non-representational Geographies: Performances’.

2007 ‘Chronic Everyday Life: Rhythmanalysing Street Performance’. Presented at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2007, London (29-31st August), in the session ‘Lively non-human temporalities’.

2007 ‘Towards an Ecology of Street Performance’. Presented at the Wessex Postgraduate Consortium Meeting, Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Park (16-18th April).

2007 ‘Doing Lefebvre's Rhythmanalysis in Covent Garden, London’. Presented at ‘Doing Theory’, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol (16th February).

2006 ‘“And then you get a microphone in the teeth”: Conflict and Creativity in the Performance of Blues Music in Glasgow’. Presented at ‘Creativity: the word, the concept, and practice’, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol (3rd February).

Conferences/sessions convened

(Co-organized with Sebastian Abrahamsson, University of Oxford) ‘The Limits of the Body’ paper session to be held at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, 22-27 March 2009.