Thesis Info

Thesis Title
SignSpace. Digital Media in Study Environments: the Case of Computer Art
Susanne Grabowski
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
University of Bremen, Germany
Thesis Supervisor
Prof. Frieder Nake, Prof. Bardo Herzig
Supervisor e-mail,
Other Supervisor(s)
Prof. Heidi Schelhowe, Prof. Winfried Pauleit
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Computer Science
Languages Familiar to Author
URL where full thesis can be found
computer art, generative aesthetics, space, semiotics, digital media, semiotic machine, learning environment, aesthetic laboratory, media education, art education
Abstract: 200-500 words
This work focuses on the potentials of digital media in the context of education, in particular on art education. Computer art is used throughout as example. The concepts of sign and space play a central role for the theoretical part. Media are viewed as abstract spaces of a largely semiotic character. Processes of change and the experience of difference are important in educational situations as well as in semiotics. Generally, our beeing in the world appears to be determined less and less directly by things than indirectly by relations and processes. The thesis is based on the following assumptions: 1) Potentials of digital media can be derived from products of the computer. This is demonstrated by the example of early computer art (generative aesthetics). Such potentials are computabiltiy, which is an absolute precondition of any computer work; the twofold existence of algorithmic things as program and as perceivable presentation; and variability and the unfinished status of digital media. These features describe the specific aesthetics of the media. They make us think of the computer as a functional space of possibilities. 2) Potentials of digital media in the context of learning unfold only when they are considered to be means designed to support learning, as well as subject matter yet to be designed. The project “compArt: a space for computer art” at the University of Bremen serves as my background. In the course of this project we designed hypermedia, videoinstallations, and interactive installations. There is a recursive component: potentials of the computer are used (means) to introduce its peculiarities (ends). Here the computer appears as an interactive space of action. As a practical consequence, first steps are taken towards developing an “aesthetic laboratory” which is to combine principles of pragmatism whith potentials of digital media in the aesthetic domain. The learning environment features open and flexible structures in order to emphasize difference, variability, and transformation. Computer art (in the sense of Max Bense’s Generative Aesthetics) plays a central role and is taken up from the perspectives of theory, practice, history and education. Works by Frieder Nake and Manfred Mohr are explored for their peculiar sign character. They appear only as potential signs of their own structure, which is a possible structure of other signs. Computer art stands for a logical concept that moves into the foreground possible structures and statistical relations. Since computer art is elementary, fundamental, and exemplary, it fulfills the requirements of a fruitful educational object. Computer art is an object of history allowing us to compare the past with the present. It is also an interdisciplinary object making necessary to study two disciplines (computer science and art) to investigate digital media. Finally, computer art is simple enough to get started with practical work, but still challenging, so that great ideas can emerge.