Tom Estes at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

  • Type: event
  • Location: The Arches, 253 Argyle St, Glasgow, Scotland, G2 8DL, GB
  • Starts: Jan 16 2013 at 4:00PM
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The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, one of Europe’s leading conservatoires, presents Live work by performance artist Tom Estes.

Founded in 1845 The Royal Conservatoire has played a critical role in the development of the performance arts in Scotland over many years. The RCS is integral to the nation’s vibrant performance culture and uniquely placed to partner with a wealth of inspiring professionals and artistic companies.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, has invited artist Tom Estes to explore the role of the audience in contemporary performance as part of ‘Into The New’, a four day event exploring Contemporary Live Art Performance. As an artist Estes has always leaned toward making Live Art performance work that is participatory or imersive in some way. In his work for The Royal Conservatoire Estes will explore these issues and there will also be a range of responses from artists, academics, researchers and practitioners on the role of the audience in contemporary performance.


In his performance CAKE HOLE artist Tom Estes cuts holes in donuts while members of the audience take pictures on a communal camera that is passed around. The simple act of cutting holes in donuts or 'punching holes in donuts' is based on a slang term in activist circles meaning doing something that has little or no real impact. The title of the work is also from a slang term. Generally expressed as ‘shut your cakehole’in the United Kingdom it means ‘shut up and keep your opinions to yourself’.

During the event audience members are asked to interact with the central performance by taking pictures on what Estes calls a "communal camera". The pictures are then posted on social networking sites for another, wider on-line audience. This is what Estes refer to as 'Harnessing The Hive' - as the view of the central performance is mediated and digitally recorded through a machine. In this way, the photographs, become more than mere documentation and can be seen as central to the work. The audience, rather than being some kind of privileged witness becomes part of the performance while taking pictures. This role reversal invites the audience to re-examine easy assumptions, received opinion and current social and critical trends as well as pose tough questions about the ways in which we see and understand our world and culture.

At the core of this work is an attention to the flickering fading definition of our lives as dictated by film, television, the computer monitor and the rapid reply of instant messaging. Estes strives, not to break down these introverted, often self-imposed boundaries, but to look how data flow form the virtual realm impacts on the significance, symbolism and depth of real-world human senses. But in doing so, he has begun to generate unexpected questions about how art might be able to inscribe itself on the surface of reality- not to represent itself on the surface of reality- not to represent reality, not to duplicate it, but to replace it.

Estes performance 'Cake Hole' is part of ‘Into The New’, a four day event exploring Contemporary Live Art Performance. The Performance 'Cake Hole' by Tom Estes will take place on the 16th of January between 4:00- 6:00. ‘Into The New’ will takes place in Glasgow on the 14th, 15th and 16th of January at the Arches, a 65,000 square foot venue so no doubt there will be ample space for a critical and discursive debate to challenge perceptions of audiences.