Gregory Sporton Research Projects & Select Bibliography

Digital Creativity: Something from Nothing by Gregory Sporton

Sporton Digital Creativity
Digital Creativity was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015. It examines the impact of technology on the creative practitioner, how it influences, and sometimes determines, the way they work and what they produce. It questions the claims to creativity of the technology industry, and at the same time argues for seeing computing as a craft practice. Artists and craftspeople have always been drawn to new technologies for inspiration, and the book seeks to contextualize the frenzy of claims about the impact of digital technology against the reality of what it is to be creative. The different motivations for creativity are tested, making much-needed distinctions between the practices of the arts and the models of innovation in engineering and elsewhere in the technology industries. Finally, the book warns of the problems ahead if technology comes to dominate creative practice, either by defining it or imitating it. Ultimately, artists must engage with it if it is to retain a human form and scale.

How do our ideas, actions and objects create our culture?

Sporton posing...

Sporton at University of Illinois

The Sporton Professorial Inaugural Lecture

Took place at the Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University on Tuesday, Nov 1st, 2011. Link to video material and the paper from the Lecture.

My work seems to cover a broad range of research fields, but in the end turns on one question. My original background was as a professional dancer, and it was through this route that my career in Higher Education developed. As an academic, I was trained as an ethnographer, and many of my publications reflect this in methodology and subject matter. Latterly, my research focus has been on the impact of new technology on the practice of the arts through my role as Director of the VRU at BCU and in founding the CPDA department at the University of Greenwich, which was a natural extension of my research. My other major area of recent enquiry has been the former USSR, and I am often found doing research in Moscow on ballet in Soviet times. What holds all this together is a search for an understanding of how culture emerges from the strange mixture of ideas, objects and actions. My curiosity is invariably stimulated when I sense the absence of critical dynamics, having seen up close what it costs. Creative practice is not intellectual process by other means: it is far more complex than that, and the dubious history of privileging intellectual accounts ahead of practical work is a major theme.

Research Projects links to information about VRU based research work, which is usually collaborative. Some performance/exhibition related works have also been included towards the foot of the page.

Contact methods…

Sporton, G. & Makiola, I., 2011, ‘The Watertower: Gaming for Heritage’, in Beale, K. (ed), Museums at Play, Edinburgh: Museums etc., pp. 346-357.
Sporton, G., 2009, ‘Design as Action: Jean Cocteau and the Ballets Russes’, in White, C. (ed), 2009, Directors and Designers, Bristol: Intellect Books, pp. 231-240.
Sporton, G. 2009, ‘The Active Audience: the Network as a Performance Environment.’, in Oddey, A. & White, C., 2009, Modes of Spectating, Bristol: Intellect Books, pp. 61-72.
Sporton, G. 2008, ‘Power as Nostalgia: the Bolshoi Ballet in the New Russia’, in Barnett, D. & Skelton, A. 2008, Theatre and Performance in Eastern Europe, Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, pp.3-12.
First published in New Theatre Quarterly, 2006, Vol. 22, Part 4, No. 88, pp.379-386.
Sporton, G. & Sharl, R. 2006, ‘Ultra parallelism: the Grid, the Supercomputer and the Creative Artist’, hothaus papers,VIVID hothaus series, ed. Gibbon, J., Birmingham, Article Press, pp.102-108.
Sporton, G. 2003, ‘A Degree of Confusion: Does Higher Education in the UK understand dance just yet?’, A. Raftis, ed., Dance as Education, IOFA Greek Section, Athens, pp. 189-196.
Sporton, G. 2002, ‘Real & False Cultural Understanding: Ideas, policy and practice for multi-ethnic Britain’, A. Raftis, ed., Dance as Intangible Heritage, International Organisation of Folk Art, Athens, pp. 188-196.
Sporton, G., ‘Ballet and the Soviet Body’, Scene, Vol.6 No. 2, 2018, pp 153-164.
* Sporton, G., ‘What constitutes the Arts?’, Scene, Vol. 6 No. 2 , 2018, pp 103-105.
Sporton, G., ‘The Body and the Intellectual’, Scene, Vol. 5 No. 2, 2017, pp. 115-126.
Sporton, G., ‘The conservative revolution: the Bolshoi archives’, Scene Vol. 1: No. 1, 2013, pp. 85–98.
Sporton, G., ‘Natural Selection and the Audition Process: Dance Science in Context’, Research in Dance Education, Vol.11, Issue 2, June 2010, pp.139-142.
Sporton, G., ‘The ‘e’ Prefix: e-Science, e-Art & the New Creativity’, Digital Humanities Quarterly, Fall, 2009, v.3 no.4.
Sporton, G., 2009, ‘In the Service of the State: Art and Politics in the Soviet Union’, The International Journal of Arts in Society Vol.3, Issue 6, pp.27-36.
Sporton, G., 2008, ‘The Ballet Called “Siegfried”: the Enigmatic Prince of “Swan Lake”’. New Theatre Quarterly, Vol.24, Part 3, No.95, pp.281-293.
Sporton, G., 2006, ‘Power as Nostalgia: the Bolshoi Ballet in the New Russia’, New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. 22, Part 4, No. 88, pp.379-386.
Sporton, G., 2004 ‘Dance as Cultural Understanding: Ideas, Policy & Practice’, Dance Research Journal, Winter, 2004, pp.80-116.
Sporton, G., 2004, ‘Dance Culture and Statuary Politics: Chiang Kai-Shek and the Myth of Primitivism’, New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. 20, Part 3, No. 79, pp. 280-285.
Sporton, G. 2007, ‘Building the Wireframe: e-Science in the Visual Arts’, AHRC e-Science Support Centre (AHESSC) Website.
Sporton, G. 2007, ‘Real-time Collaborative Art-Making’, AHRC ICT Methods Network Report.
Sporton on his beloved scooter Selected Abstracts available here

Sporton, G. and Allen, E., October, 2022 Focussing on the Critical: Film Pedagogy in a Modern University, KAMC2022 Conference, Kyoto, Japan.

Sporton, G., Tovey, J.M., Hill, A. and Norman, S., September, 2018, “Double Take: Looking back on yourself in 360°”, performance and presentation, DRHA Conference, Fondazzjoni Kreattivita, Valletta, Malta.

Sporton, G., 2018, The Life of a Dance: Double Take Part II, Documenting Performance Conference, City University, London, Proceedings from the Document Academy: Vol. 5 : Iss. 1 , Article 9.

Sporton, G., July, 2016, “Student Dialogue in the Age of the Text: Unitu as an Action-Based Platform”, Academic Practice and Technology Conference, University of Greenwich, London.

Sporton, G., September, 2014, “Can Machines Think?”, DRHA Conference, University of Greenwich, London.

Sporton, G., June, 2013, “Ballet and the Soviet Body”, The Body in Eastern European Cinema, University of Greenwich, London.

Sporton, G. & Green, J., Sept, 2010, “Adventures in Motion Capture: Technology Development in the Dance Space”, DRHA 2010, Brunel University, London.

Sporton, G., July, 2010, Creative Identity Theft: Issues for Artists in Collaborative Online Environments. EVA London, British Computer Society, London.

Ashford, R., Chockalingham, N., & Sporton, G., May, 2010, “Plantar Pressure assessment during various ballet movements: A pilot study.” 20th FIP World Congress of Podiatry, Amsterdam.

Sporton, G., Ashford, R. & Chockalingham, N.,November 2009, “Visualisation for the Dancer: image-based technologies as support to dancer training”, 19th International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) Conference, The Hague, The Netherlands.

Sporton G. & Michailidis, T., July 2009, ‘Putting Your Foot Down: The Aesthetics of Latency’ Sixth Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900, Keele University.

Sporton, G. & Wright, C., September 2008, ‘Writing with Her Body: Transference of Movement, Spectacle & Meaning Through Technology’, Digital Resources in the Arts & Humanities (DRHA) 08, University of Cambridge.

Sporton, G., July 2008. ‘In the Service of the State: Art & Politics in the Early Soviet Union’, Third International Conference on the Arts in Society, BCU, Birmingham.

Sporton, G., March 2008, ‘Real-time Collaborative Art-Making’, Methods Network Conference, Kings College, London.

Sporton, G., June, 2007, ‘Building the Wireframe: e-Science in the Visual Arts’, e-Science for A&H Research: An Early Adopters’ Forum, National Centre for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.

Sporton, G., July, 2007, ‘e-Science and Creativity’, Electronic Visualisation and the Arts Conferences International, London College of Communication, London.

Sporton, G., July, 2007, ‘The ‘e’ Prefix: e-Science, e-Art and the New Creativity’, e-Science & Performance, Public Lecture Series, National e-Science Institute, Edinburgh.

Sporton, G., July, 2007, ‘And, With & Through: the Technologies of Performance’, Digital Representations of Performing Arts AHDS conference, Edinburgh.

Sporton, G., 2007, ‘The New Passive: Opportunities for Spectators in Interactive Performance’, Modes of Spectating Symposium, Ruskin Anglia University.

Green, J., Sporton, G., & Williams, K., 2007, ‘The Networked Multi-disciplinary Performance Environment’, 2000+Seven Symposium, Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queens University, Belfast, April.

Sporton, G., 2007, ‘Grid-based VisualiZation’, VizNet 2007 Symposium, Intersections in Visualization Practices and Techniques, Loughborough University.

Sporton, G. 2004, “Design as Action: Jean Cocteau & the Ballets Russes”, International Federation of Theatre Research Conference, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Sporton, G. 2003, “Turning to the Academy: Issues in Practice-based Research”, SCODHE Conference, University of Leeds.

Sporton, G. 2002, “Real & False Cultural Understanding: Ideas, policy and practice for multi-ethnic Britain”, CID-UNESCO Conference, Corfu, Greece.

Sporton, G. 2003, “A Degree of Confusion: Does Higher Education in the UK understand dance just yet?”, CID-UNESCO Conference, Naxos, Greece.

Sporton, G. & Sharl, R. 2004, “Ultra parallelism: the Grid, the Supercomputer and the Creative Artist”, VIVID, ‘Progression’ in the hothaus series, BIAD, Birmingham.

Sporton, G. 2001, “The Cultural Gesture: policy and practice for South Asian Dance in Britain”, Congress on Research in Dance, New York University.

Sporton, G. & Holmes, S. 2000, “The Classical and the Grotesque in the Internet Age: Self-publication and Representation via Web-Cam”, University of Birmingham, 3rd International Crossroads in Cultural Studies Conference.

Sporton, G. & Bartrip, M. 2002, “Rethinking Laban Centre London: Curriculum and Policy Responses to a Changing Environment”, CEDAR, University of Warwick, Coventry.

Sporton, G. & Gant, K. 1998, “Beyond the Initiative”, Community Dance: Current Issues in the Field, L. Jasper, ed., ‘Seminar Papers 1998’, University of Surrey, Guildford, pp. 43-57.

Wilson, M., Whyte, G., George, K., Lane, A., Redding, E., & Sporton, G. 2001, “Variation of electrocardiographic (ECG) changes in contemporary student dancers”, IADMS, Madrid, Spain.

‘Learning from Technology’, Keynote Provocation for N8 ‘Digital North’ Workshop, University of Sheffield Humanities Research Institute, September, 2013.

‘The New Games: How movement will extend our perceptions of the computing experience’ @ Second TIIC International Symposium and Workshop on IT-enabled Textiles in Seoul, December 2012, sponsored by Kolon Industries.

‘Digital Creativity and the Artist/s’ at Digital Encounters, mac, Birmingham, March 2011.

‘Dance as Interface: Issues and Solutions for Performing in the Techno-space’, Monaco Dance Forum, Monaco, April, 2010

The Network as a Creative Environment, National Centre for e-Social Sciences, University of Manchester, February 26th, 2009.

NCeSS Seminar: Dr Gregory Sporton, Director, Visualisation Research Unit, BIAD's School of Art, Birmingham City University from kenny baird on Vimeo.

Writing with Her Body: Transference of Movement, Spectacle and Meaning through Technology, HRI Digital series, Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, June 16th, 2008.

Holding the ACE : 3 principles for what to do with what you’ve got, ICTs and the Research Process in the Creative and Performing Arts, JISC-sponsored event, University of Glasgow, October 24th, 2008.

The Science of Art: Dancers and their training methods, Staffordshire University, May 23rd, 2007.

Double Take 360

30 years ago, I collaborated with dancer Sandra Norman on a stylish duet ‘Double Take’, subsequently performed around New Zealand for most of 1986. On the 26th of April 2017, the original dancers as they are now, in their early fifties, reworked the Double Take choreography alongside footage of their earlier performances at the University of Greenwich.

Never Talk to Strangers: Performances for the Sporton Professorial Inaugural

Video of the Performance section of the Sporton Inaugural. Thanks to Tycho Michailidis.

The VRU Watertower, Sporton, Scott, Makiola, Wang, Zhao. Commissioned for the closing of Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, June 2010.

MotivePro, Sporton G.C. & Green, J.A., 2010,

Patent no: WO/2010/084348 A MOTION CAPTURE APPARATUS

MotivePro was a long-running project funded by a number of agencies for its development since 2007. These include NESTA (£21k), the Spinner Fund of Advantage West Midlands (£40k) and contributions from BCU’s RIE. The challenge was to design a motion sensor system that gives feedback to movers in real time.

This has led to the securing of a patent, and conference presentations at the International Association of Dance, Medicine & Science (Den Haag, 2009) and the Digital Research in Humanities and the Arts conference (London, 2010) . There have been with subsequent invitations to speak at the Birmingham Science City Digital World conference (2010) and the prestigious Association of Dance and Medical Research in Monaco (2010). This in turn led to the publication of a short article for the journal Research in Dance Education, and an invitation to contribute to the Intellectual Property Office’s research into developing IP in the University sector. The device developed is now the central apparatus in an £800k research project on nurses’ health conducted by BCU’s Faculty of Health & Well-being. It has featured in a number of news reports, and included in the UK Trade & Investment publication ‘Enabling London 2012 and Beyond’.

Sporton, G., Magruder, M.T., Baker, D.,et al, September, 2009, EP:VV, Abstract Cabinet Show, Eastside Projects, Birmingham. I gave a paper about this process at the EVA 2010 London.

Sporton, G. & Wright, C., September 2008, Writing with Her Body, Digital Resources in the Arts & Humanities (DRHA) 08, Cambridge University.

Sporton, G. & Green, J.,September, 2007, lightpipe, UK e-Science All Hands Conference, East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham. lightpipe

Sporton, G., Williams, K. & Green J., September 2006, Thirty Exercises in Six Movements, Nature-Inspired Design Exhibition, Margaret Street Gallery, Birmingham. This project formed the basis of the essay ‘The Active Audience’ in White & Oddey 2009.

Sporton, G., Reviews: ENO’s Luisa Miller/ Osipova Pure Dance, Scene Vol 6 No.2, pp. 177-182, 2020.

Sporton, G., Reviews: Agency: A Partial History of Live Art/ Akram Kahn’s Giselle/ Bolshoi Ballet’s Bright Stream, Scene, Vol. 6 No. 1& 2, pp.87-94, 2019.

Sporton, G., Reviews: Life and Fate/ Life is a Dream/ New Work/New Music, Scene, Vol. 6 No. 1, June 2018, pp.91-97.

Sporton. G., Reviews: Michael Clark Company, Scene, Vol. 5 No.2, December 2017, pp. 139-140.

Sporton, G., Reviews: The Nose/ The Red Shoes/ Les Enfants Terribles, Scene Vol. 5, No.1, July 2017, pp. 83-88.

Sporton, G. Reviews: Swan Lake/Swan Lake/Trinity Brave New Worlds, Scene Vol. 4 No. 2 Nov. 2016, pp 173-178

Sporton, G. Reviews: Cirkopolis/Swan Lake/The Nutcracker, Scene Vol. 3 No. 1&2 Dec 2015, pp 149-155

Sporton, G., Book Review: Swans of the Kremlin, by Christine Ezrahi, The Soviet and Post Soviet Review, Vol 4, Issue 1, 2014, pp 105-108.

Sporton, G., Apollo/The Oracle/The Perfect American, Scene Vol. 1, No. 3, Dec 2013, pp. 457-463

Sporton G., Reviews: Onegin/LePage/Dreamthinkspeak, Scene, Vol. 1, No.2., July, 2013, pp.312-319.

Sporton, G., 2012, ‘The Two Cultures’, pp.70-73, in (RE)MEDIATION_S 2000-2010, Exhibition catalogue for Michael Takeo Magruder, Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery.

Sporton, G., 2008, Project Summary,’Real-Time Collaborative Art Making’ in Hughes, L. (ed.), The AHRC ICT Methods Network, London: AHRC ICT Committee, p.45.

Sporton, G., 2006, Exhibition Review, ‘Capturing the space: ‘Doppëlganger’@ New Art Gallery Walsall’, Journal of Body, Space & Technology, Vol. 6, No. 1.

Sporton, G., 2004, Conference Review, ‘Of Watermelons and DVDs’, Research in Dance Education, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 83-93.

Sporton, G., 2004, Editorial, ‘Dancing by Degrees’, Horos [48, Feb/May 2004], p.6-9. Athens (in Greek)

Sporton, G., 2002, Book Review, ‘Moving history, dancing cultures’, Dance Theatre Journal, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 45-46.

Sporton, G., 2001, Profile ‘Matthew in a cage (The performing presence of this year’s Jerwood-Choreography-Award winner, Matthew Hawkins)’, Dance Theatre Journal, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 30-31.

Sporton, G., 2001, Book Review, ‘A Question of Confidence’, Research in Dance Education, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 95-99.

Sporton, G., 1997, Opinion Piece ‘The Culture of Dance Meets the Cult of the Body’, Animated, Summer 1997, p.6-7

Sporton, G. 1996, Undressing Terpsichore: The Culture of Dance, MA, University of Warwick.

Sporton, G. 1999, Real Dancing: Theory & Action , PhD, University of Sheffield.