Representation and reproduction: a love story

Sleeth, M 2013, Representation and reproduction: a love story, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Art, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Representation and reproduction: a love story
Author(s) Sleeth, M
Year 2013
Abstract Abstract This practice-led research project is a visual investigation into the aesthetic, technical and conceptual concerns of new media. The outcome of the research is an exhibition of new media artworks that explores this trajectory and considers how mechanical representation and reproduction can define the scope and conceptual development of a contemporary art practice. New media art is positioned, for this research project, as works made by an apparatus, via mechanical reproduction. In opposition to old media artworks made by the artist’s hand directly transforming the material, new media artworks ultimately embed something of their mechanical nature in their essential character. These artworks are created from a set of instructions developed by the artist, then executed by a machine or series of mechanical processes. The project investigates the heritage of new media from the announcement of photography and aims to identify the similarities, both conceptual and technical, that inform contemporary processes including digital images, moving image, 3D printing and digital fabrication. Through my artworks and comparison with earlier artworks and technologies, I locate the methods through which each process addresses the problems and possibilities of its predecessors. The research positions photography as the scaffolding for new media, a platform to consider new visual languages and new narrative possibilities.

Photography can be treated as an expanded idea, rather than simply a medium. Everything is photography all the time. The key outcome of this research is that photography is the organising structure through which to view our relationship with all other new media. As I moved through the research project, each medium gave way to the next as it provided solutions to the concerns of previous works: serial photographic grids to digital images, digital images to moving images, moving images to 3D printed sculpture, 3D printed sculpture to a fusion of digitally fabricated media to create an installation composed entirely of the human-readable multiples created from the machine-readable original. The Rise and Fall of Western Civilisation (2011) can be seen as the proof of concept for this position. As the concluding work in this project, The Rise and Fall of Western Civilisation (2011) embodies the whole context of the research as all new media elements are created from a set of machine-readable instructions to create the human-readable objects that form the installation: therefore new media is photography all the time. The PhD project was ultimately an artistic study of mechanical representation and reproduction that positions contemporary new media as a logical progression from photography, rather than a rupture, and that in my research, all new media is essentially photography, all of the time. Keywords (separated by commas): new media, photography, digital imaging, moving image, video art, sculpture, 3D printing, contemporary art, Matthew Sleeth
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Art
Keyword(s) sculpture
Matthew Sleeth
digital imaging
new media
moving image
video art
3D printing
contemporary art
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