Thesis Info

Thesis Title
UNCAGED: A novel, ‘telesymbiotic’ approach to bridge the divide between the physical world and the virtual world of computers?
Ralf Nuhn
2nd Author
3rd Author
PhD (practice-based)
Number of Pages
Middlesex University, London (UK)
Thesis Supervisor
Dr. John Dack
Supervisor e-mail
j.dack AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Dr. Magnus Moar
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
School of Arts
Languages Familiar to Author
English, German, French
URL where full thesis can be found
Installation Art, Mixed Reality, Jean Baudrillard, sound, video, kinetic sculpture
Abstract: 200-500 words
The main subject of this thesis is my artistic project UNCAGED, which explores interrelationships and transitions between computer-based virtual environments and their immediate physical surroundings. The underlying motivation behind my approach was to ‘uncage’ screen-based realities from the confines of their digital existence and to bring the remote computer world closer to our human experience. In particular, my work was opposed to the notion of immersive ‘virtual reality’ where the physical world is more or less excluded from the participants, but instead attempted to situate the virtual domain within the physical world. Initially, I will discuss the theoretical framework behind UNCAGED, ranging from aesthetic considerations, the particular role of sound, human computer interaction (HCI) to technical issues, and afterwards describe the creation process of UNCAGED. Based on a study of audience behaviour with UNCAGED at a major London museum, I will claim that the work’s popularity seems to relate to its perceptually intriguing fusion between the virtual domain and the physical world, and in this respect my project can be deemed successful. Furthermore, on the basis of an extended review and analysis of related work in the broad area of ‘mixed reality’, I will suggest that my own approach can indeed be viewed as a novel way to bridge the divide between the physical world and the virtual world of computers. The innovation relates, in particular, to its unique balance of formal simplicity and technical sophistication. In the last chapter, I will provide a more critical evaluation of UNCAGED, largely informed by Jean Baudrillard’s conception of the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’, which raises questions about the very idea of integrating digital technology in our lives in a meaningful and satisfying way. Finally, I will present my subsequent practical work, which strongly engages with my critical reflections on UNCAGED. In particular, it is informed by a new heightened sensitivity regarding the role of digital technology in my artistic practice.