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Tenebris in lux : the performance of code and the aesthetics of transmission in contemporary art through practice-orientated research


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Mauro Flude, MN 2014 , 'Tenebris in lux : the performance of code and the aesthetics of transmission in contemporary art through practice-orientated research', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis contributes to the discourse concerning the role played by
computational devices in contemporary culture, specifically, in contemporary art
and performance. It addresses the cultural chasm - which has been widening since
the Industrial Revolution - between the production and consumption of technology.
A position is developed that unmasks the creative possibilities of experiencing the
computer as a theatre machine, a mechanism of infinite purposes and diverse
desires, rather than solely as an unmediated presentation of a ‘ready-made’
functional tool. Beyond this technological pragmatism, the inquiry instead points
to a richer engagement with technology that can occur through the application of
arcane cultural practices from speculative traditions of thinking that include
cryptography, theatre and occult philosophy.
The study examines the depth of the reach of the computer into the social fabric of
everyday life through a series of experimental artworks and performances. The
research areas mobilised in the artworks and applied in the exegesis posit that the
distinguishing character of computer networks and systems lies in their materiality.
This research also extends to the modes of performance they enable, through which
human beings participate and interact.
An exploration of the black-box metaphor - as applied to both computers and
theatre and a review of links they share - demonstrates how perceptions about
techné and the aesthetic use of technology are shaped by a knowledge of social
histories, politics and cultural experiences. Dramaturgy is a central discipline
framing the project because performative actions offer an insight into, and
elaboration of, aesthetic processes and the effect of technical provocations.
Underlying the artworks that make up this thesis is a methodology that defines
radical subjectivity. By drawing attention to the apparatus used to construct and
enact the work, new models of aesthetic engagement are created which can be
characterised by a playful enactment (a ludibrium) of arcane tropes. The thesis
concludes that profound play with the limits of a given schema, even of the most
utilitarian kind, can lead to startling transfigurations and unanticipated ripples of
sway far beyond the maker’s intent.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Mauro Flude, MN
Keywords: Computational media, theatre, code, dramatrugy, transmission, experiential prototyping
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Copyright 2014 the author

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