Zoe Laughlin: The Performativity of Matter

Materials perform. Stuff is constantly getting up to things. Matter is doing all of the time, at varying scales of time and space, in order to exist and generate the world of objects. This is your chance to encounter some of the most wondrous matter on earth; from shape-memory paperclips to magnetic liquids and non-Newtonian fluids, not to mention the lightest solid in the world.

Here's what The Institute of Making has to say about The Performativity of Matter:

"First presented in 2008 at the ICA in London, this ‘science demonstration lecture performance’ spotlights the performing nature - or performativity – of materials. As Zoe explains, performance isn't just about animate objects - inanimate objects perform, too. This ever-evolving piece first emerged after a successful work by Zoe in which she gave a performance lecture about a mathematical equation she discovered. Since then, Zoe has been invited to perform around the UK and Europe to all manner of audiences. For example, last year saw her devise a lecture performance show on liquids for the Fundus Theatre in Germany.

Importantly, "The Performativity of Matter" is never the same twice. It is responsive to each diverse audience and setting, taking into account that the main performers on the stage – the materials - can’t always be controlled. But, to use one of Zoe’s expressions, if an on-stage demonstration works as it should on stage, it’s science. If it doesn’t, it’s art."


Zoe Laughlin is a co-founder/director of the Institute of Making and the Materials Library project. She holds an MA from Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design and obtained a PhD in Materials within the Division of Engineering, King's College London. Working at the interface of the science, art, craft and design of materials, her work ranges from formal experiments with matter, to materials consultancy and large-scale public exhibitions and events with partners including Tate Modern, the Hayward Gallery, the V&A Museum, the Science Museum and the Wellcome Collection. 

A Q&A session will follow Zoe's talk

  • Date: 
  • Time: 
  • Where: Paccar Theatre
  • Price: Free!

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