performance & experience design

Trained originally in theatre design at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, I am interested in the ways in which people, objects, and space interact to craft human experience.

I have worked in the field for nearly twenty years, collaborating on over thirty productions across film, new media, and live performance, presented in Australia, Europe, the UK, US, Canada and in Asia.

My design practice is interdisciplinary and operates across multiple media – I’ve used binaural sound recording to create journeys through history and place; bubble wrap to make costumes; and in my spare time I read everything I can about clever small-space living and kyosho jutaku. The key elements of my practice are space and movement; whether applied to how fabric interfaces with a contemporary dancer or how a city organises its people. I often work closely with choreographers and artists innovating traditional cultural practices.

Selected projects below; visit my journal for more including background sketches and research images from the ideas in progress.

Changing Pathways (2018)

A site-based audiowalk of the Westmead Precinct, 2018 Stream the audiowalk via Soundcloud ——— written & produced by Justine Shih Pearson with (in order of appearance) Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor, Darug-Yuin Elder Marily Cintra, Arts & Cultural Consultant, Westmead Hospital Emeritus Professor Stephen Leeder, AO, Director, Research and Education Network, Western Sydney Local Health District Dr … Continue reading Changing Pathways (2018)


“At the still point, there the dance is…” – TS Eliot Still Point Turning is a ‘danced poem’ exploring our experience of time. From the profane world of clocks, schedules, alarms and itineraries to the grand arc that is our life – birth, death, growth and decay. To how we experience time in a dream or in … Continue reading STILL POINT TURNING (2014)


Pictures from the recent season at CarriageWorks Contemporary Art Centre, presented by Performance Space. Winner 2015 Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography In this new work from choreographer Narelle Benjamin, two solos, individually crafted for the amazing dancers Kristina Chan and Sara Black, are performed in the same space with separate but overlapping timelines. The … Continue reading HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT (2014)


Pictures from performances of Ontosoroh at Taman Budaya Surakarta, Indonesia, and at the OzAsia Festival, The Space, Adelaide Festival Centre. Also presented: Ubud Readers & Writers Festival. Concept Peni Candra Rini & Ade Suharto Choreographer/Dancer Ade Suharto Musical Directr/Vocalist Peni Candra Rini Percussionist Plinth Violinist Prisha Sebastian Gendèr Player Iswanto Designer/Dramaturg Justine Shih Pearson Visual Artist Mawarini Lighting Designer Susan … Continue reading ONTOSOROH (2013)

IN LIEU (2011)

Pictures from the final dress rehearsals before the premiere performance season of In Lieu, OzAsia Festival, Adelaide Festival Centre 6-7 September 2011. Director, Choreographer & Performer: Ade Suharto Musical Director, Composer and Performer: David Kotlowy Visual Artist and Performer: Mawarini Scenic & Costume Designer: Justine Shih Pearson Lighting Designer: Dave Gadsden Gamelan In Situ: Emily Rustanto, … Continue reading IN LIEU (2011)


Choreographer Ade Suharto and composer David Kotlowy were artists in residence at Nexus Multicultural Arts in Adelaide in October developing the piece. I went across for a week to develop preliminary costume designs (sketch from my notebook below) and made some trial pieces for a showing of the work in progress in a double bill … Continue reading IN LIEU SHOWING (2010)


binaurally recorded audio walk 30 minutes This is an audio walk. These walks always tend to be tied to place, a rumination on or exposition of place. But I started wondering what if they weren’t? What if it was about placelessness, an any place or no place. A narrow gap left between two buildings just … Continue reading A PLACE CALLED LOST (2006)


digital animation, 4:3, colour 3:15 minutes This short animation was made as part of a masterclass with New York artist Raul Vincent Enriquez. It was designed to be watched by one person at a time, peering into a little screen in a dark capsule, eating rosemary and chili infused mozzarella on toast which I had … Continue reading YOUR TOAST IS READY (2005)


set & costume design by Justine Shih Pearson directed by Ingrid Voorendt produced by Parallelo at the Auditorium, Art Gallery of South Australia lighting by Geoff Cobham performers Zoe Barry, Naïda Chinner, Helen Omand, Astrid Pill, Jason Sweeney, Solon Ulbrich Reviews RealTime DB Magazine Back


digital video, 4:3, colour 7:10 minutes Trick of Shade is a layered, elliptical journey through the Greek myth of Pandora’s box. Building around the moment of transgression, Pandora’s fall from grace, the film ponders the precipice of indecision and the moment that curiosity soils innocence. directed & edited by Justine Shih Pearson featuring Naida Chinner animation … Continue reading TRICK OF SHADE (2004)


costume design by Justine Shih Pearson directed by Naïda Chinner produced by Naïda Chinner at Artspace, Adelaide Festival Centre performers Kelly Alexander, Melissa Laing, Solon Ulbrich, Ingrid Voorendt Naïda’s full-length work was made in residence at the Artspace, an odd-shaped gallery high up within the Adelaide Festival Centre complex. The audience sat in wooden chairs … Continue reading THE PAPER BOAT (2003)


Ade Dancing: Golek Manis is an un-narrated, impressionistic documentary featuring Australian-Indonesian dancer Ade Suharto. The film follows the structure of the classical dance Golek Manis, preserving the introspective focus and pace of the Javanese movement style. At the same time, it captures a period at the end of 2002 when Ade had just returned to Australia … Continue reading ADE DANCING: GOLEK MANIS (2003)

STIRRED (2000)

costume design by Justine Shih Pearson directed by Felecia Hick produced by Diwali Dance House at the Price Theatre, Adelaide Fringe Festival This piece was inspired by early German Expressionist dance and the mechanised movement of some early 20th century avant-garde theatre. In counterpoint to this, I wanted to bring in something more organic and … Continue reading STIRRED (2000)


costume design, Bubble Wrap Tap by Justine Shih Pearson directed by Jo Dudley & Cathy Adamek produced by Maximum Legroom for the 10th Sydney Spring International Festival of New Music at the Studio, Sydney Opera House; Barossa Arts Festival at the Saltram Winery; the Space, Adelaide Festival Centre (2000) performers Cathy Adamek, Jo Dudley, John … Continue reading ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR (1999)


set & puppet design by Justine Shih Pearson directed by Alexis Rehrmann produced by the Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association at the Puffin Room, New York A bilingual (Mandarin and English) production based on real-life experiences of sweatshop workers in New York\’s Chinatown, I utilised a variety of puppet construction techniques – rod puppets like … Continue reading AMERICAN TIEN (1998)