John Bell

Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Interdisciplinary Program


Owen F. Smith

Second Committee Member

Marcia Douglas

Third Committee Member

Anne Goodyear


For four years, intermedial artists Bethany Engstrom, Richard Corey, and John Bell have collaborated to produce immersive performances as The Core 5 Incident. This dissertation is a tripartite self-examination of the working methods they have developed to help address the specific creative, organizational, and personal challenges involved in artistic collaborations. The methods they describe are then applied to teaching a series of creative collaboration classes within a Master of Fine Arts program, with the resulting techniques further refined and contextualized for pedagogical use.

Using a version of Grounded Theory techniques that they have modified for self-study, the three authors identify several properties of collaborations that influence the effectiveness and appropriateness of different collaboration styles for creative work. The collaboration styles themselves are classified based on the balance between group will and personal creative agency and the degree to which the work generated by the group can be clearly broken back down into recognizable individual contributions. The strengths and weaknesses of each style are described, and it is concluded that a hybrid style dubbed "emergent collaboration" best fits The Core 5 Incident's working method. The authors then review their own history to classify the significant concerns within a creative collaboration and the ways in which The Core 5 Incident handles those concerns that make emergent collaboration appropriate for their group.

Having developed a framework for examining creative collaborations, the authors then apply that framework to examining four iterations of a collaboration class in a Master of Fine Arts program-two taught by the authors, and two taught by other faculty. They conclude that, once extended to include topics specific to the classroom, the concerns they have described provide appropriate facets for examining contributing factors to the successes and failures within each of the classes. Based on these observations, they provide a number of suggestions and a recommended syllabus to use for teaching large-scale intermedial collaborations at the graduate level. Finally, the results of the study are contextualized by the lead author into his area of expertise, algorithmically-moderated communication.


Interdisciplinary in Intermedial Collaborative Practices