Performing One’s Research

John Bohannon makes the most innovative, moving, inspiring and powerful TED talk through the use of dance and movements. As a scientist, he explores concepts of protons, atoms and states of matter, such as the superfluid.

(Source: Youtube link)

According to Bohannon, he proposes:

I think that bad powerpoint presentations are a serious threat to the global economy.

Dancers have been employed to perform PhD research. The “Dance Your PhD” competition, for example, showcases a diverse range of academic subjects:

  1. [Biology] “Computational approaches in high-throughput proteomics data analysis”
  2. [Chemistry] “Evolution of nanostructural architecture in 7000 series aluminium alloys during strengthening by age-hardening and severe plastic deformation”
  3. [Physics] “Multiactivity wear testing of total knee replacements”
  4. [Social Science] “Governance of natural resources and development of local economies in rural areas: the Social Network Analysis and other instruments for good governance indicators”

In many theatre and drama conferences, Powerpoints have become too common. Worse, some academics read off scripts (like myself — just to keep me within the time limit! Sigh). Yet we should be advocating something more aesthetic as our mode of representation. We should be performing our research. This will not only be entertaining and stimulating on our part (i.e. for our audiences), but also functions as advocacy for researchers in other fields.

In my previous blog, I wrote briefly about “practice as research”. This TED talk by John Bohannon is definitely an exemplar. I must now aim to perform my research. Or at least in my presentations, be more aesthetic, so I practise what I preach. Performance lectures — you are my next goal.