The Scholarly Studio: The Application of the Television Studio as a Performative Research Tool
Authors: Hearing, T.
Start date: 10 May 2018
Does a television studio look like a place of scholarly activity? What is the role of the academic amidst the shiny floors and glittering lights that we associate with the brevity of television news and the celebrity culture of entertainment? Can making a programme in a television studio ever be a part of the considered scholarship we recognise as the role of the academic, which the historian and television presenter Professor Mary Beard has described as to ‘…make issues more complicated’? The practice-as-research project reported here suggests that a television studio might yet be considered a place of study, returning the word studio to its Italian origin, meaning "room for study," from the Latin studium, with all the potential that it might hold as a performative space with live content, shared experience, remote interactivity, distance learning and virtual environments. In the seemingly perverse but academically necessary mission to make our understanding of the world more complex, the research indicates how we might make a hybrid learning environment in which to develop, express and share new forms of knowledge in an age of electronic rhetoric by drawing on the legacy of an older television aesthetic combined with the potential of new technologies. In the context of recent developments in multi-camera live-streaming online and to cinemas http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk), the research draws on experimental work in broadcast television in the UK in the 1970s and early 1980s, exemplified by The Journal of Bridget Hitler (Saville 1981), to propose the use of the television studio as creative academic research tool, incorporating the level of self-critical inflection required of a reflective academic investigation. The brief flowering of reflexive, poetic and even operatic programme making in the television studios of the 1960s and 1970s public service broadcasting now provides those of us working in universities who have access to studios with an alternative model of production that might lend itself to openness, contradiction and complexity at a time when digital innovation can add interactive connection to new and global audiences via platforms beyond the confines of traditional broadcasting.