Thesis Info

Thesis Title
The Implicit Body: understanding interactive art through embodiment, and embodiment through interactive art
Nathaniel Stern
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
Trinity College Dublin (University of Dublin)
Thesis Supervisor
Linda Doyle
Supervisor e-mail
ledoyle AT
Other Supervisor(s)
examiners: Dr Yvonne Scott and Prof Joel Slayton
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Languages Familiar to Author
URL where full thesis can be found
Relationality, Embodiment, Interaction, Phenomenology, New Media, Digital Art, Body, Implicit Art, Ontology, Discourse, Corpus
Abstract: 200-500 words
This dissertation argues that examining interactive art and embodiment, together, enables an expanded understanding of the two. It puts forward a theoretical approach, as well as a critical framework, for doing so. The hypothesis of this approach contends that present discourses surrounding digital art (as engaged by, for example, Lev Manovich, Oliver Grau and Christiane Paul) have been too rooted in paradigms of linguistic and visual signification to adequately interrogate the complexities of interactive art. Contemporary theories of embodiment and relationality that have grown out of phenomenology (Mark B.N. Hansen, N. Katherine Hayles and Brian Massumi), by contrast, see body and world, subject and object, person and people as always already entwined, always already implicated across one another. To proffer an implicit body approach, this dissertation turns to performance studies theory via Rebecca Schneider and Richard Schechner, and phenomenology through Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Luc Nancy and Nick Crossley. It proposes a framework for examining interactive art that addresses inter-activity and relationality in equal proportion to artist intent and art work description. It then applies this framework to the art of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Camille Utterback, Simon Penny, Mathieu Briand, Scott Snibbe, myself and several others, in order to show its effectiveness in furthering our understandings of interactive art and embodiment, as well as what is at stake in the openness of each. Ultimately, this dissertation contends that contemporary, interactive art is reconfiguring action and perception in ways that amplify bodiliness. It gives one potential mode of thinking through interactivity, and shows its practical application towards furthering the fields of contemporary art criticism, creative production, and public discourse about the body more generally.