Date of Award

2011

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

Intermedia

Advisor

Owen Smith

Second Committee Member

Justin Wolff

Third Committee Member

Jefferson Goolsby

Abstract

Although many of the artworks evolved through experimentation with physical materials and emphasized perception, influential artists and theorists have framed the Art and Technology movement of the late 1960's and early 1970's as part of a transition towards dematerialization, predicting that advances in technology would allow artworks to deal more purely with information and become more interactive. This thesis proposes to contextualize a body of artwork that I completed, by comparing attitudes and artworks from the Art and Technology trend with those of contemporary technology art. Because contemporary artists are now working with simpler, more tactile technologies and share stated goals with Art and Technology, the comparison aims to provide insight into the current situation. Through the examination of influences and historical context, the motivation for my work also becomes clearer, when discussed at the end of the thesis. The first section of the thesis explores Art and Technology from a perspective that does not privileged dematerialization, tracing the evolution of attitudes towards physicality, environment, control and participation, before comparing these attitudes to more current ones. Regarding these issues, contemporary technology art has much in common with Art and Technology. However, older works place more emphasis on experience and perception, while newer works place more emphasis on modeling a correct metaphysical perspective and presenting preconceived ideas. Current works that deal with nature and the environment neglect to emphasize how human perception shapes these explorations. Because some newer works are also more self-conscious about their own historical significance and strive to be seen as relevant, they are often formulaic, functioning as shorthand references for sanctioned ideas. Rather than reifying and circulating the same ideas, I argue that the processes of making and experiencing the work should bring about some kind of change in the ideas present in the work. At the end of the thesis, I analyze and discuss my own artwork from this perspective.

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