University of Tasmania
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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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posted on 2023-05-27, 14:59 authored by Mauro Flude, MN
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 techne 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.


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Copyright 2014 the author

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