METASYSTEMS is a series of short performance works by James Batchelor and Collaborators for theatres and public spaces. Since it began in 2014, it has toured in Australia, Europe and Asia and continues to expand as it negotiates and adapts to new contexts.

METASYSTEMS contemplates human interaction with the environment from the individual to the universal. It is an assemblage of raw building materials with the body, a rhythmic landscape of construction and movement. Documenting and translating the processes taking place at the construction site, METASYSTEMS is an observation of the changing urban landscape. It analyses the human encounter with the material world, the desire to shape it and the physical positioning of body and object.

The work invites us to consider our local environment and its inherent motions and rhythms. Buildings, seemingly so fixed, are always in movement. From conception to demolition they are negotiations between the people who make, use

and experience them.

METASYSTEMS highlights an interesting tension between the conceptual process of design and the physical process of action. Architecture exists only in the realm of abstraction, yet building exists in a state with matter, error and gravity. The design strives to escape error and in that it is immaculate, whereas the building in reality, like the human body, is inherently flawed.

The intuitive navigation of matter, the quiet process of approximation, to organise briefly and efficiently… In these tasks an infinity of systems and approaches begin to emerge.


In ESCAPE TO THE INFINITE, three performers construct a mesmerising and rhythmic landscape of body and concrete. 64 concrete bricks are carefully stacked, placed and slid through a series of grid-like formations, which the performers navigate as one dynamic sculpture. Batchelor’s choreography is based on the distinct physcialities of construction workers, harnessing the inherent rhythms and coordinations specific to each individual body and material. The work was originally made as a commission for the inaugural Keir Choreographic Award, responding to the rapidly changing urban landscape in Melbourne Australia. It has since grown into a series of short works that respond to different local sites and materials, a flexible and evolving piece that invites audiences around the world to reflect on how and why we build.

Choreographer: James Batchelor
Visual Artist: Madeline Beckett
Original Cast: James Batchelor, Madeline Beckett, Amber McCartney

Previous Presentations
Paris FR September 26, 2015 (La Briqueterie) Les Plateaux
Bassano Del Grappa IT August 20,21,23 2015 (Operaestate Festival) Bmotion
Canberra AUS February 12 – 15, 2015 (Canberra Theatre)
Melbourne AUS February 6 – 8, 2015 (Summersalt Outdoor Festival)
Melbourne AUS July 10 -13, 2014 (Dancehouse) Keir Choreographic Award

Keir Foundation, Australia Council for the Arts, Dancehouse Inc and Carriageworks. Supported by the ACT government through Arts ACT and the Canberra Theatre Centre.

METASYSTEMS part 1 : Escape to the Infinite teaser from James Batchelor on Vimeo.

PART 2: DUPLICATION (30 minutes)

DUPLICATION is the sequel to ESCAPE TO THE INFINITE, with four performers and four times as many bricks. It was developed in 2015 as part of a residency at the Canberra Theatre Centre. With greater intimacy between body and concrete comes an increased complexity in this work. There is also an amplified sense of precariousness created by the continuously impending possibility of error. The choreography in DUPLICATION is based on the study of building maintenance and navigation, including window washing, painting, cleaning and metal scaffolding construction.

Choreographer: James Batchelor
Visual Artist: Madeline Beckett
Original Cast: Emma Batchelor, James Batchelor, Madeline Beckett, Amber McCartney

Previous Presentations
Bassano Del Grappa IT August 20,21,23 2015 (Operaestate Festival) Bmotion
Canberra AUS February 12 – 15 2015 (Canberra Theatre)
Melbourne AUS July 1 – 5 (Fortyfivedownstairs)

Supported by the ACT government through Arts ACT, Canberra Theatre Centre and City of Melbourne.

METASYSTEMS part 2 : Duplication teaser from James Batchelor on Vimeo.


MULTIPLICATION is the third METASYSTEMS work, featuring eight performers and 576 concrete bricks. In 2015, Australian artists James Batchelor and Amber McCartney worked with six emerging Thai artists to make this work during a five-week residency in Bangkok, supported by the Australia Thailand Institute. It is the most complex system in the METASYSTEMS series with four performers moving bricks in unison and four performers weaving through the intricate and maze-like pathways. The choreography is based off studies of Thai workers constructing and navigating bamboo scaffolding.

Choreographer: James Batchelor
Original Cast: James Batchelor, Paopoom Chiwarak, Pakhamon Hemachandra, Tanakorn Kanjan, Amber McCartney, Jittima Muangsuwan, Vanalin Pachimsawat Vadtanakovint, Navinda Pachimsawat Vadtankovint

Previous Presentations
Bangkok THAILAND June 19 – 21, Creative Industries

Supported by the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Creative Industries.

METASYTEMS part 3 : Multiplication teaser from James Batchelor on Vimeo.

PART 4: ASSEMBLAGE (40 minutes)

ASSEMBLAGE examines the process of searching for, ordering, manipulating and combining objects through both clear aesthetic and functional choices. Departing from the orderly grid-like formations of previous METASYSTEMS works, choreographer James Batchelor and visual artist Madeline Beckett worked with Melbourne based architects Kae Woei Lim and Elena Lowe of XYZ Workshop to design a set of unique 3D printed objects. The 128 pieces are made from 75kg of filament and took over 800 hours to print using two Ultimaker 3D printers.

The performance involves the demanding task of finding, sorting and assembling all 128 3D printed objects one by one as they gradually form a single structure. James Batchelor simultaneously performs a choreography based on four construction tasks; supervising, drilling, sealing and window washing, all to the accompaniment of a pocket radio.

Choreographer: James Batchelor
Visual Artist: Madeline Beckett
Original Cast:

James Batchelor, Madeline Beckett
3D printing design and construction: XYZ Workshop

Melbourne AUS July 1 – 5 (Fortyfivedownstairs)
Supported by the City of Melbourne.

METASYSTEMS part 4 : Assemblage teaser from James Batchelor on Vimeo.

PART 5: VIOLENCE (40 minutes)

Choreographer James Batchelor made VIOLENCE together with Australian artists Madeline Beckett and Amber McCartney with 9 local Chinese visual artists and performers during a 1 week residency at 501 Art Space in Chongqing China.

In the residency, two wall segments in the gallery were removed, providing the raw materials for the work and bringing bricks into movement that had been static for over 50 years.

The work VIOLENCE responds to the physical process of demolition and a repurposing of clay bricks into simultaneously beautiful and violent relationships with the body. As the body fails, the bricks fall and crumble. The performers continue in their task to find comfort in the positioning of the body against these heavy and dusty objects.

Chongqing CHINA October 3, 501 Art Space

METASYSTEMS part 5 : Violence teaser from James Batchelor on Vimeo.


‘Metasystems is an extraordinarily interesting and ultimately beautiful work which will reward further viewing. It is notable for its originality and complexity, and as an exciting demonstration of the maturation of Batchelor’s ability to present complex ideas in accessible dance form.’ – City News

‘Metasystems is captivating to

watch. The action is all at once a constantly evolving installation with a percussion instrument that underscores the piece.’ – Bangkok Post

‘That Batchelor can surprise like this is what makes his work so worth following.’ – Michelle Potter

Michelle Potter
Bill Stephens in City News
Jordan Vincent in The Age
Amitha Amranand in Bangkok Post