We Record Ourselves

Lead Author:

Simon Ellis


Owa Barua, Natalia Barua, Katrina McPherson



Unit of Assessment

33: Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies

Output Category:

Q - Digital or visual media

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We Record Ourselves (screendance)

Single screen film; 8mins/stereo.

Summary Statement (300 words)

We Record Ourselves is a screendance by Simon Ellis, Natalia Barua, Owa Barua and Katrina McPherson. The film was made in response to two related events: 1) the failed attempt in 1997 by McPherson to get a film commission about the largely overlooked work and life of dance artist Margaret Morris;1 2) a request made to McPherson by Horsecross Arts (Perth, Scotland) in 2015 to respond to the Margaret Morris archive.

The research is an original concatenation of screendance and archival practices that reveals ideas, practices and experiences to do with memory and disappearance, the performance and recording of contemporary human lives, experimental screendance practices, and the ghosts of our artistic influences.

The work was developed through practice-research in which the artists created and sustained a series of unique performance-as-archive practices. These practices involved the four artists working together collaboratively and simultaneously as performers, archivists, camera operators and editors. The multi-perspective materials, screens, bodies, and texts in the film are a distinctive collection of moving images – part performance, part archive, and part screendance – that together function “as the kind of bodily transmission conventional archivists dread.”2

Research aims:
  1. To develop, practice, perform and edit living and recorded archives of historical and contemporary performance.
  2. To develop processes and strategies that reveal the conditions of production of the work, and build these into the form-content of the output.
  3. To examine the means by which performed materials and ideas might be archived within and outside of the body, and to entangle technological and corporeal mediated presences in order to imagine and display a screen-based embodied archive.


  1. margaretmorrismovement.com/about/margaret-morris
  2. Schneider, R. (2011) Performing Remains. New York: Routledge, p.105


Contextual Information

We Record Ourselves was also re-developed as two other versions: a twenty-two screen edit presented at Threshold Artspace, and an eight screen media-wall edit (7m high) presented at Bath Spa MediaWall.