From post-dramatic theatre to urban screens

Research at Utrecht University in the field of media and performance is conducted from a historical and comparative media perspective. Our projects have a particular focus on the interaction between technologies, media expressions and participants, users or public. 

The research group examines various contemporary and historical phenomena within the full scope of media and performance:

  • from post-dramatic theatre to early cinema;
  • from Dutch film to Hollywood;
  • from European television culture to interactive media;
  • from multimedia choreographies to mobile media;
  • from game consoles to urban screens;
  • from art house, popular and counter culture to the creative industry.

We approach these topics through issues surrounding identity, participation, cultural memory and heritage. We pay specific attention to historically situated and location-specific changing processes of cultural communication and the construction of meaning. 

EUscreen - Portal for Europe's Audiovisual Heritage

Utrecht University coordinates the European project EUscreenXL. The EUscreen-portal offers free online access to videos, stills, texts and audio from European broadcasters and audiovisual archives. Besides developing the portal, EUscreenXL acts as the pan-European aggregator in the audiovisual domain for Europeana, bringing together major European broadcasters and actively reaching out to audiovisual archives. As the audiovisual content aggregator for Europeana, the materials in EUscreen are connected to an online collection of millions of digitised items from European museums, libraries and archives.

  • Project leader: Prof. Eggo Müller
  • Project coordinator: Quirijn Backx MA
  • Duration: 2013 - 2016
  • Funding: European CIP ICT-PSP Support Programme
Utrecht Data School – Research Centre for the analysis and visualisation of data

How do you extract meaning from thousands of separate messages? And how can you see what is important in a dataset of millions of data within a glance? These are the type of questions that students at Utrecht University’s unique research program Utrecht Data School tackle. Since 2013 they have been researching ‘big data’ commissioned by companies, non-profit organisations and governments. Since our inception in 2013, the students of UDS have gained insights into the Occupy movement, Dutch politicians on Twitter, WikiLeaks and “Project X“ Haren.


Center for the Study of Digital Games and Play

Games play an increasingly important role in (arts) education, healthcare, safety, creative industries, and other economic, cultural, and societal sectors. It is a 'game changing' phenomenon. Therefore, researchers from Media and Performance have initiated GAP, the Center for Study of Digital Games and Play. GAP regularly organises international events dedicated to sharing expertise about the study of computer games and other forms of digital play. GAP participates in the interdisciplinary and interfacultary focus area Game Research.

Miracle – Centre for the Study of Moving Image, Cinema and Screen Media

Utrecht University's MIRACLE Research Centre focuses on the study of Moving Image Representations in Audio-Visual, Cinematic and Light-emitting Environments. MIRACLE is a platform for research on the moving image in its various facets conducted at Utrecht University, from early cinema to recent developments of digital image production, distribution, and exhibition.

GATE - Game Research for Training and Entertainment

Utrecht University is a partner in the GATE project. The ambition of this project is to develop an international competitive knowledge base with respect to game technology, and to train the talent required to enhance the productivity and competitive edge of small and medium-sized creative industrial companies.

Playful Identities

The aim of this interdisciplinary (conceptual-philosophical, media-theoretical, and qualitative-empirical) programme is to investigate if, to what extent and in what way, digital information and communication technologies are transforming the (construction of) personal and cultural identity.

  • Project members: Prof. Joost Raessens, Dr Michiel de Lange, Jeroen Timmermans, Prof. Jos de Mul (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Dr Sybille Lammers, Prof. Valerie Frissen (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
  • Duration: 2005-2010
  • Funding: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
Hidden Wars/Guerras Escondidas (in Dutch)
Hidden Wars/Guerras Escondidas

Hidden Wars was a play performed by 4 young adults from Guatemala and 4 exchange students from the Netherlands. During their performance, they told their funny, moving and striking stories about giving meaning to your life and the survival in Guatemala, a country in which a hidden war still takes place.

  • Financed by the e-motive programme from Oxfam Novib
Big hART - Blue Angel Project

Big hART is Australia’s leading arts and social change company which produces critically and publicly acclaimed performance, visual, and media art. Researchers from Media and Performance collaborated in the Blue Angel project, meant to promote fair shipping by telling the stories of real seafarers, from foreign  and Australian shores. Our researchers conducted research for the development of this project and provided artistic consultancy.

Saving Face

Together with Connecting Cities, a network aiming to build up a connected infrastructure of media facades, and Studio Lancel/Maat, researchers from Media and Performance assisted in the creation of the performance/installation 'Saving Face'. In a visual, poetic way, this installation shows our emotional and social encounter with trust, visibility, privacy in our 'smart' cities. When defining our identity and the identity of others, our sensory abilities are increasingly replaced by networked surveillance and identification technologies. How do we experience the way our body and identity are being 'measured' as functional and controllable products?

Saving Face