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ARC UNATC 2021 │ Keynote Speakers

Adaptive Storytelling │ Art Research Conference │UNATC Bucharest │ 2-5 December 2021

Hybrid Conference: in situ at CINETic (3b Tudor Arghezi Str., Bucharest) │ online on Zoomlive on the UNATC YouTube channel

Unique Zoom login link for all conference sessions: CLICK HERE (Meeting ID: 965 5585 0634 / Passcode: 796442)

As of 2021, the National University of Theatre and Film in Bucharest (UNATC) sets out to organize a yearly ART RESEARCH CONFERENCE, under the ARC UNATC heading, aiming to bring together studies, research and practices primarily in the performing arts and film, but also in connected fields, with a focus on interdisciplinarity and the intersection of domains, from science and emerging technologies, to music and design, from theory to interactivity, from fundamental research, to experimental and restorative research in the arts and through the arts.

We are honored to host 7 keynote speakers at the 2021 edition of the ARC UNATC international conference themed ADAPTIVE STORYTELLING:

Janez JANŠA (Slovenia) 2 December 2021, 16:00

Miruna RUNCAN (Romania) 3 December 2021, 13:00

Katarzyna KNYCHALSKA (Poland) 3 December 2021, 14:00

Ryszard W. KLUSZCZYNSKI (Poland) 4 December 2021, 13:00

Rachel HANN (UK) 4 December 2021, 14:00

Tadej DROLJC (Slovenia) 5 December 2021, 13:00

Marco DONNARUMMA (Italy/Germany) 5 December 2021, 14:00


2 December 2021, 16:00-17:00


Performativity of Documents

Performativity of Documents

There is something in theater that resists the truth of a document. Many performances based on documentary material raise the question “did this really happen” in a spectator. The reason for such questions is in the very dispositive of theater, which creates disbelief rather than creating belief (Pirandello says in Six Characters in search for an Author to „deal with theater, that is, with the truth to a certain extent”).
This means that when we stage a document, we are primarily staging the attitude of the theater to a performative dimension inscribed in the document. There are documents that call for being staged. Not necessarily to reveal something unknown, something hitherto hidden, but rather to show how theater in itself resists a one-way relationship to real events.
The document is already mediated in itself, it is a medium. But as such, it participates equally in the construction of reality as the event it represents.
Janez Janša is a contemporary artist who in 2007 together with two other Slovenian artists changed his name into the name of the conservative, two times prime-minister of Slovenia. Before and after this radical artistic gesture Janša has been working as theatre director and performer of interdisciplinary works that focus on the relation between art and the social and political context surrounding it, reflecting the responsibility of the performers as well as the spectators. Many of his works deal with the very status of performance in neoliberal societies. 
He created e.g. (together with Peter Šenk) a Refugee Camp for the Citizens of the First World (2004) and devised We are all Marlene Dietrich FOR (with Erna Ómarsdóttir, 2005) as a performance for soldiers in peace-keeping missions in the tradition of famous army entertainment shows. In his exhibition Life in Progress (2008) the audience itself reenacted famous historical performance art actions. For Janez Janša artistic practice, theoretical reflection and political involvement are not separated: He is also the  director of Maska, a non-profit organization in publishing, production and education, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia and edited several books on contemporary dance and theatre. He is author of the book on early works by Jan Fabre, La discipline du chaos, le chaos de la discipline, 1994.
He is currently fellow at the International research center Interweaving Performance Culture at the Freie Universitat in Berlin.

ARC UNATC 2021 │ KEYNOTE LECTURE (in Romanian)

3 December 2021, 13:00-14:00

Prof. Miruna RUNCAN, PhD

Critica teatrală ca depozitar al istoriei teatrale

(Theatre criticism as a repository for theatre history)

Theatre criticism as theatre history depository

Abstract – research process motivation (restoring the professionalization process in theater criticism in the context of communist politics, ideology and aesthetic constraints; restoring the most representative stylistics in theatre journalism; restoring individual voices; the relation between criticism and the theatrical model of “socialist aestheticism”).
Methodology and corelating methodologies (historical context, political context, ideological analysis of the dialogue, rhetorical analysis of the communication, sociological perspective).
Selecting the representative events, from a political social stand point. Textocentrism vs Director-centrism. Critic’s social, political and intellectual context. Case study role (1). Rapport between theatre journalism and research. Criticizing theatre criticism.
Theatre criticism and theatrical/ perceptual model. Consolidating the percept; preserving the percept under the siege of Ode to Romania /Cântarea României. Case study role (2).
Rhetoric archeology – a methodological approach.
Miruna Runcan is a Romanian-born writer, semiotician and theater critic. She received a PhD in Theater’s Aesthetics from the Bucharest University of Theater and Film in 1999 on a complex historical and aesthetic research on the Romanian modern stage-directing and theater theories, from 1920 to 1960. After 1989, she was involved in several activist and theatrical projects, both in media ethics and theater criticism. She published the first Romanian book on media law and ethics, for young journalists, followed by The Fourth Power: Ethics and Law for Journalists. After 2001, she is professor at Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj, Romania. Still, theater criticism and interdisciplinary studies on media, film and theatre constitutes the principle field of her activities in research, writing and teaching.

ARC UNATC 2021 │ KEYNOTE LECTURE (in Polish with Romanian translation)

3 December 2021, 14:00-15:00


Teatrul independent în Polonia – Narative eficiente și ineficiente ale schimbării sistemice

(Independent theatre in Poland – effective and ineffective narratives of systemic change.)

Independent theatre in Poland – effective and ineffective narratives of systemic change

Statistics show that there are over 700 independent theatres and over 100 institutional theatres in Poland. Logic dictates that it is the former that should shape the image of theatrical life in the country. However, this is not the case at all. Why? The problem is the inequality of the system which organises the functioning of both streams. Independent theatres lack the space to work, the resources for production, the competent theatre criticism, and the possibility of exploiting ready-made performances. For over five years grassroots initiatives, such as the National Theatre Offensive, have been trying to change this state of affairs. They build and test narratives that could prove effective in conversations with politicians at the central and local level, as well as those that have the power to unite the industry around common problems. In my speech I will deal with these narratives, I will tell about the successes, but also numerous failures on the way to changing the theatre system in Poland. I will introduce the mechanisms of functioning of the theatre mainstream (financing, education, festival life and theatre criticism) and confront them with the mechanisms that govern the off stream. As an example I will use the tools developed by the Nie-Taki Theatre Foundation, which I run: the „nietak!t” magazine, The Best Off Competition, but also the Off-Polska grant programme newly launched in Poland. Finally, I will ask myself a perverse question: is it really the right narrative that allows us to change the world for the better?
Katarzyna Knychalska is the founder and president of the Teatr-Nie Taki Foundation in Wrocław, publisher, editor-in-chief of the portal and the magazine on independent theatres „nietak!t”. Co-founder of the National Theatre Offensive, which aims to unify the off theatre movement, programming consultant at the Teatr im. Helena Modrzejewska in Legnica, director of the Nie-Złego Theatre Festival in Legnica, curator of the off trends at the Shakespeare Festival in Gdańsk and the New Theatre Festival in Rzeszów. Director and juror of The Best Off Competition. She is the author of many articles and essays on theatre, as well as plays and theatre adaptations staged in theatres in Poland and Europe. A scholarship holder of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage „Young Poland”.


4 December 2021, 13:00-14:00

Prof. Ryszard W. KLUSZCZYNSKI, PhD

The work of art in the age of Internet presentation: between narrative and performance 

Prof. Ryszard W. Kluszczyński, PhD, media art scholar, writer and curator

Chair of Department of New Media and Digital Culture, University of Lodz, Poland. Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz. He investigates the issues of new media arts and cyberculture, contemporary art theory and practices, avant-gardes and transdisciplinary cultural transformations, and recent interactions between art, science, technology and politics. 
Artistic Director of Art & Science Meeting Program in the Centre for Contemporary Art in Gdansk (2011–). Curator of numerous exhibitions within the Program. Co-curator of travelling international exhibition United States of Europe (2011-2013). Curator of the Second International Biennale of Contemporary Art “Mediations”, Poznan 2010. Chief Curator of Film, Video and Multimedia Arts in the Centre for Contemporary Art – Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw (1990-2001). 

Some of recent book publications
Towards a Non-Anthropocentric Ecology. Victoria Vesna and Art in the World of the Anthropocene (2020);  
Beyond Borders: Processed Body – Expanded Brain – Distributed Agency (2019);
Augmenting the World. Masaki Fujihata and Hybrid Space-Time Art (2017); 
Human Traits. Patrick Tresset and the Art of Creative Machines (2016); 
Guy Ben-Ary: Nervoplastica. Bio-robotic Art and its Cultural Contexts (2015); 
Ken Feingold: Figures of Speech (2014); 
Meat, Metal & Code / Contestable Chimeras: Stelarc (2014); 
Robotic Art and Culture. Bill Vorn and His Hysterical Machines (2014). 
Wonderful Life: Laurent Mignonneau + Christa Sommerer (2012); 
Crude Life. The Tissue Culture & Art Project: Oron Catts + Ionat Zurr (2012); 
Towards the Third Culture. The Co-Existence of Art, Science and Technology (2011). 

Some most recent chapters and papers:
Sculpting Time: The Art of Collective Memory. In: Hava Aldouby (ed.) Shifting Interfaces. An Anthology of Presence, Empathy, and Agency in 21st Century Media Arts, Leuven University Press, 2020.
Visual Revolutions: From Electronic to Living Imagery, “Art Inquiry” 2020, vol. XXII. 
From the Collection of Personal Memories to Collective Memory. Notes on the Archiving Trend in New Media Art,  “Time of Culture” 2019, No. 2. 
On the Languages of Media and Postmedia Art. In: Slawomir Ratajski (ed.) Media Education as a Challenge, Academy of Fine Art and UNESCO Committee in Poland, Warsaw 2019. 
The Museum, Public Space and the Internet. Environments for Presenting Interactive Film, in: Oliver Grau et al (eds.) Museum and Archive on the Move. Changing Cultural Institutions in the Digital Era, De Gruyter, 2017.
Avant-garde against avant-garde, “Art Inquiry” vol. XXIX (XXVII), 2017, p. 33-43.


4 December 2021, 14:00-15:00

Rachel HANN, PhD, senior lecturer

Scenographic storytelling: Worlding expressions in an era of climate crisis

Rachel HANN, PhD, senior lecturer

Dr. Rachel Hann is a cultural scenographer who researches the material cultures of performance design, climate crisis, and trans* performance. Since April 2020, Rachel has been Senior Lecturer in Performance and Design at Northumbria University, Newcastle.

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Leeds, School of Performance and Cultural Industries
Computer-based 3D Visualization for Theatre Research: Towards an understanding of
unrealized Utopian theatre architecture from the 1920s and 1930s

Project website:


5 December 2021, 13:00-14:00


Audiovisual Escapology: Cross-Modal Extension to the Musical Idea of Tension and Release 

Audiovisual Escapology: Cross-Modal Extension to the Musical Idea of Tension and Release

For me, the essence of audiovisual art are audiovisual relationships. I am especially interested in cross-modal perceptual groupings and through various examples of my work, I will present different types of groupings that underpin numerous emerging or trending audiovisual aesthetics. Audiovisual composition, on the other hand, I see as an art of how to move between these various types of groupings over time. My practice usually revolves around constraining and liberating sound and image from each other and this drama I call the audiovisual escapology.
Tadej Drolic is a Slovenian artist and creative coder who works at the intersection of sound, image and light.
For his work Tadej was awarded the Lumen Prize Student Award, Dennis Smalley scholarship in electroacoustic music and he won the most promising Video Artist prize at Madatac. His practice based doctoral research was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Award for an outstanding thesis at the Centre for Research in New Music. A work from his collaborative project Synspecies won the Edigma Semibreve award and was shortlisted for the Lumen Prize in category moving image.
Tadej performed and exhibited at festivals such as Ars Electronica, Paris Biennale NEMO, L.E.V., Brighton Digital Festival, Semibreve, Sonica Glasgow, Lunchmeat, Node etc. As part of his collaboration with Ars Electronica’s Future Lab on project Immersify his works were also presented at events like Inter BEE Tokyo, IBC Amsterdam or Marché du film – Festival de Cannes.


5 December 2021, 14:00-15:00


Eerie methods: making art for a world at the edge of collapse 

Marco Donnarumma, PhD

Marco Donnarumma is an artist, performer, stage director and scholar and co-founder of the artist group Fronte Vacuo. Marco weaves together media art, contemporary performance, and interactive computer music since the early 2000s. He is internationally acknowledged for combining disciplines, media and emerging technologies into an oneiric, sensual, uncompromising aesthetics, where the body becomes a morphing language to speak critically of ritual, power and technology.

Teaching positions (short- and long-term posts)
2021 Theaterpädagogik Ferienkurs / Visiting Instructor / Berlin University of the Arts DE
2013 Design and Performance Lab / Visiting Instructor / Brunel University UK
2011 Host Guest Ghost / Visiting Instructor / Dansehallerne DK
Posgrado en Artes Visuales / Visiting Instructor / UNAM MX
2009 MA in Sound Design for Sensitive Environment / LABA IT.

Stories lie at the basis of human experience. Our minds are shaped to see stories everywhere – from a random leaf floating downstream, to funny shapes ground coffee makes at the bottom of a cup, to one single moving dot on a screen. We tell stories to communicate with each other, to make sense of the world, to entertain ourselves and our fellows. 

Stories bear the ever-present conflict between fixed forms and fluidity, using adaptation to maintain the core of the story whilst remapping itself onto newer listeners or viewers. Actors adapt to their audiences; Commedia dell’Arte involved a continuous dialogue between improvisation and pre-written texts. Forms of improvisation theatre use low but efficient techniques to build adaptive storytelling. 

While a story can be fixed in a script, stories time travel and are re-told. The printing press fixed novels in books as a culmination of storytelling. Cinema fixed stories on celluloid and turned actors into stars. Later on, in the digital environment, what was fixed became fluid again. The end can become the beginning, the dead can resurrect on screen and entertain us once again with cutting edge techniques such as vidding, produsage or datamoshing, which are already becoming widespread practices in online video content where audiences interact with ready made content in shaping new stories. 

With the advent of stronger and stronger computing power, a new ideal is emerging: interactive storytelling. Story is strongly linked to the technology and the medium through which it is told. Besides delivering targeted commercials, nowadays AI can simulate speech and draft scripts. Games use AI in emulating non-human players for bringing action and realism to digital worlds. Will we be living the dream of a digital storytelling machine?

Restorative research, on the other hand, can also be a complex form of storytelling, aiming to recuperate and reevaluate significant moments in the history of performing arts. Restorative research brings forth stories of personalities, performances, innovative artistic movements that fundamentally changed the shape of contemporary art. It is our duty as artists, practitioners, theorists, educators and researchers to create spaces where stories can be told, where narratives can be reframed and understood through the lense of contemporary culture, and where the memory of stories past can be brought to light. 


Vicerector with Research at UNATC: Radu Apostol
Director of the Research Center in Performing Arts and Film: Mihaela Michailov
Conference Management: Elena Belciu and Alexandra Bucălae
Communication assistant: Cristina Nițu
Proofreading: Ruxandra Vera Ștefan
Live streaming: Bogdan Alexandru (live video editing), Mihai Gheorghiu (live sound editing), Alexandra Bucălae (zoom management), Elena Belciu (live moderator)
Technical coordinator: Dumitru Tănase
Technical crew: Ciprian Făcăeru, Marius Hodea, Andrei Mutuligă, Geo NițăIonuț Dumitrașcu
Camera crew: Dragoș Boldea, Dan Bobe
Volunteers: Ruxandra Rădulescu, Bianca Georgiana Pîrvu, Caty Alexandra Șamata, Kristopher Dura, Sebastian Braicu

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