Marshall Garfield
Montreal, Canada
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Marshall Garfield

Why Motion? Why Presence?

Performance and performance-based experiences are everywhere and make up either the main or underlying content of what we enjoy in the performing arts, entertainment, communication and our rapidly expanding interaction with mediated technologies. The delights we obtain from these experiences are seated in the physicality of interactions, presence and relationship between ourselves and the world around us. In essence, we are primed to comprehend shape and movement, to expect causation and to mimic others.



It is the active forces at play within a narrative, space and platform that engage our attention! Motion and movement are what produce and evoke presence. It is when something is happening that we become alert, curious, engaged in what is present and it is from this embodied experience that performance, in whatever form or medium, takes shape.

Physically all motion is caused by some kind of force and the perceived impact of these forces is what we experience as expression, someone or something expressing. Dynamic qualities form modes of expression in sound, touch, vision and muscular sensation that we perceive as strength, direction and even place. Just as actions are the true content of story, motion is the true content of performance.



The very nature of performance is its active presence that, until very recently, has always been experienced in real time. The timeless appeal for live performance of all kinds is the desire to be present, look, listen and be moved by the presence of story in all its forms whether through movement, narrative or visual abstraction. This embodied experience is the point of reference for creating, designing and especially in the practice of performance. What is present and why it is present is the fundamental premise for all performance. The closer the creators, designers and performers hit the mark of these questions the more connected the audience/viewer is to the performance and its experience.

The next best thing to being there is to have the sense of being there. We find the effect of presence in film and all types of on-screen productions that, through creative design, evoke state of being, time and place and more recent platforms that generate mediated and immersive experiences in 360, virtual, augmented and mixed reality environments. All of these are performance-based in that we must first design the experience of narrative or story and then play out/perform the actions and events of these so that they are felt as being present in real time. By necessity all these mediums depend on the presence and the effect of performance by design to deliver their content.


Ultimately, delivering compelling experiences to the audience, viewer and user demands a great deal of skill and commitment and these qualities are felt in the work by design of the performance, the performers and of the hidden performance perfected by the creative, crafts and technical players.

Performance by Design | Labinmotion