• 1 Aquabatics as new works of Live Art, Sarah Jane Pell PhD 2005
  • 2 Aquabatics as new works of Live Art, Sarah Jane Pell PhD 2005
  • 3 Aquabatics as new works of Live Art, Sarah Jane Pell PhD 2005
  • 4 Aquabatics as new works of Live Art, Sarah Jane Pell PhD 2005
  • 5 Aquabatics as new works of Live Art, Sarah Jane Pell PhD 2005
  • 6 Aquabatics as new works of Live Art, Sarah Jane Pell PhD 2005
  • 7 Aquabatics as new works of Live Art, Sarah Jane Pell PhD 2005
  • 8 Aquabatics as new works of Live Art, Sarah Jane Pell PhD 2005
  • 9 Aquabatics as new works of Live Art, Sarah Jane Pell PhD 2005
  • 10 Aquabatics as new works of Live Art, Sarah Jane Pell PhD 2005

Aquabatics as new works of Live Art (PhD) Edith Cowan University, AU

ECU Pro Vice Chancellor's Award: Research, Advancement and Enterprise (2001-2005).

Awarded Best PhD Art & Science, Leonardo LABS, MIT 2017


This practice-based thesis (comprising of an exegesis, exhibition, performances and their documentation) traces a myriad of cognitive and sub cognitive processes that converge towards a complex practice referred to as ‘Aquabatics’. In broad terms, Aquabatics describes the research nexus of occupational diving and contemporary performance. The purpose of this body of research has been to explore underwater performance, behaviour and boarders, in order to both devise new works of live art and to develop new methodologies and approaches to art-making. Aquabatics, as a performance strategy, seeks to critique, contest and explore the liminal natures of human performance, and the role and context of live artists, in contemporary life.

This exegesis attempts to underscore the complex process of semiosis and the dissemination of experiential knowledge in, and through, human performance activities, behaviours and biotech fission engagements with, in, and related to, an underwater environment. Part One discusses the nature and condition of Aquabatics in terms of biological, ecological, technological, metaphysical, political and societal factors. Throughout, these natures are described as an active tool to suggest treatments for looking at, and understanding the acts/actions/activisms themselves and their possible functions to point towards liminality. The more complex issue of the inherent aqueous nature in/of/for performance is proposed as the vital link connecting Aquabatics to existing cultural texts and contexts. The multi-medial texts function to make sense of the aesthetic and utilitarian performance described by examining the intersections of performance praxis, theorem and the functional operations of occupational diving through a series of original live(d) engagements, hypothesis and proposals in Part Two.

In undertaking and discussing these works, I propose that I enter into a zone of irreducibility; a permanently spirally vortex of forms, dissolving and evolving into an absent-present state of existence as the performer/ inhabitant/ pilot of this research. By documenting and re-membering this process herein, the notion of ‘performance’ along with liberty, identity, culture, art and politics also regularly collapses in meaning, status, form and function. Finally, considering Aquabatics, pre and post performance, offers insight into the spatial and temporal factors, beliefs and actions leading to, and arising from, this research. It introduces a new episteme that transgresses traditional transgressions and proposes a liminal juncture of research, and performance behaviours that constitutes an awareness of where, at depth, underwater, the self collapses into its priori opposite.


Like extending the breath, the notion of walking with water or Aquabatics has a rich cultural lineage that is imbibing and defining of life and living systems. The Prologue introduces this living syzygy between the body and water inherent in Aquabatics as new works of Live art. The theoretical framework is described as liquid and consequently the rationale for the exegesis is explained as one that traverses a multitude of ‘borrowed’ pedagogies to contextualise a knowledge system of newly proposed faculties.


In brief, Part One (Theorem) proposes the states and conditions of Aquabatics including the functional relationship of being Aquabatic and levels of existence as new works of Live art. Over seven short synopses I introduce Aquabatics in relation to BETMAPS (Biological, Ecological, Technological, Metaphysical, Aquatic, Political and Societal) systems to reveal the design objectives and considerations behind developing Aquabatic inquiry at this time in history. The intention of the format is firstly to describe the particular manifestations of conditions and states that may construct a sense of Aquabatics (noun), followed by an exploration of Aquabatics (verb): the practice of being specific to this knowledge... Full thesis available at Edith Cowan University Library.


Part Two (Praxis) examines a selection of seven Aquabatic performances and several associated collaborative research laboratories (including one still in creative development stage). These works are presented as a collection of individual meditations and critiques. They consider the development of a body of knowledge and the points of intersection and differentiation within the field of Live arts. These discussions begin to describe the ideas of the research modality, the context critical for optimum performance and also propose these recommendations for future research. See UnderCurrent, Hydrophilia, Odyssey, Second Nature: Second Skin, Transport, Revolution and Subculture. Associated works with collaborators also include Interdepend, Petrification and the LifeBoat Project.

⇐ Back to Research ⇐ Check out Performances ⇐ See Exhibitions ⇐ List of Publications

ECU Doctor of Philosophy, Visual Arts

Dr. Sarah Jane Pell PhD Conferred Edith Cowan University 2007
Sarah Jane Pell was conferred a Doctor of Philosophy, Visual Arts for her thesis proposing Aquabatics as New Works of Live Art submitted to Edith Cowan University, WA 2005, Awarded 2006, Conferred 2007. Supervisors A/Prof. Domenico deClario, Dr. Janine Schwarz & Dr. Adrian Healthfield.


Best PhD Art and Science (English Language), Leonardo Abstract Service (LABS), Michigan Institute of Technology, MIT US 2007

Pro-Vice Chancellor's Award: Research, Advancement and Enterprise, Edith Cowan University AU 2002-2005

Western Australian Performing Arts Academy, Post Graduate Award, AU 2002, 2005

Freedman Foundation Travelling Arts Scholar, Live Art Archives, Nottingham Trent University UK 2004

Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Research and Development Grant 2003

Artist Foundation of Western Australia - Old Customs House Studio Award 2002-2007

Sarah Jane Pell: Walking with Water, DVD Contemporary Arts Media

Walking with Water, DVD Contemporary Arts Media