2019 MA Show “Confluence” preview: Daniel Whitcroft

This year’s MA in Design: Expanded Practice degree show, “Confluence” will be open to the public on 13-16 December. As we approach the day of the exhibition opening, we’re giving you a preview of the diverse projects that will be on display. Today, we’re looking at the practice statement of Daniel Whitcroft:

Work by Daniel Whitcroft

“A century has now passed since Edward Gordon Craig first wrote of the Uber-Marionette and still no one truly knows what the theatre practitioner was talking about, although many have offered theories, ultimately no conclusive evidence exists that can support any of the proposed hypotheses.

The vague and inconclusive nature of these subjects provides an opportunity for my practice to situate itself within the historical yet nebulous narrative of Craig’s Uber-Marionettes, a term which I have started applying within my own work as a taxonomical label, for which my first incarnation has been christened as Uber-Marions A in deference to one of Craig’s two notebooks.

The central themes of my practice revolve around the act of embodiment both through the physical act of wearing as well as through questioning the interchangeable roles of passivity and action. With the stringy nature of the Marionette, and its reliance on another to grace the object with motion, this exasperates the questions of what is or isn’t considered animate and ultimately blurs the boundaries of agency between the body and the object as they converge to form a mutualistic relationship and formulate a symbiotic entity. In my current work this amalgamation is the aforementioned Uber-Marions A, which is decorated in metallic embroidery. As such, with its glittering embellishments the Uber-Marionette costume takes visual inspiration from the goldwork of medieval biblical scenery and invokes an electric sense of gold lighting which courses throughout its form.

However, with my attention returning to the body and the object, my practice occurs at a period in time where digitalization of information loosens the focus of these materials and subsequently trends towards digital disembodiment. Consequently, the physical and elaborate nature of costume, including the narratives they enact whether social or fictitious, diminish and become easily contoured in the process of rapid technological progression and continuously increasing rate of consuming information. Such examples include computer-generated imaging and the discarding of creature costumes like Godzilla in favour of new digital iterations of the colossus, as seen in the most recent American productions or the emergence of digital fashion. Recognising these technical trajectories, my practice reaffirms the central role of the body and the object and this ever shifting, evolving relationship. It is then possible that Uber-Marions A is the first and last of its kind.”