Thesis Info

Thesis Title
In Search of the 'Anti-Environment': Breaking the ___________ distance
Harsha Biswajit
2nd Author
3rd Author
Master of Fine Arts
Number of Pages
School of Visual Arts
Thesis Supervisor
Bruce Wands
Supervisor e-mail
Other Supervisor(s)
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
MFA Computer Art
Languages Familiar to Author
English, Tamil, Saurashtra, Hindi
URL where full thesis can be found
Ecology, Art, Technology, Anti-Environment, Marshall McLuhan, Nature, Hyperobject
Abstract: 200-500 words
The main aim of this paper is to identify the role of art in the 21st century hyper-technological world, and critique the role of technology in art, which in today's context is becoming increasingly dominant. Its spirit derives from, what seems to be an ideological problem of perception towards the environment that inhibits us from getting a full grasp of the ecological age we live in today. There seems to be an inherent disconnect between humans and nature that stems from the romantic period. Thus breaking this distance, or even understanding the nature of this distance, whether real or ideological is the first step in identifying the role of art within the ecological dialogue. In seeking an answer, I turn to Marshall McLuhan who argued the need for 'anti-environments' as vessels of perceptual awareness, and looked at fields of art and science as mirrors to such anti-environments. Technological advancements in science have given us the ability to observe the changes in the environment and link them to human action; yet man seems to be in denial. What seems to be clear is that anti-environments cannot be reduced to mere mathematical abstractions, and thus there is a space and need for art to fill this gap. However given the complexity of the task at hand, we first need to deconstruct the 21st century environment breaking our most 'unquestionable presuppositions'. What constitutes our environment today? What is nature? How do we account for hyperobjects, as termed by Timothy Morton? Should the concept of nature be extended to include technology to finally be able to break the distance between humans and nature? The dilemma today is that technology has infiltrated art, just as in life, so much so that what we find natural, without even being aware of it is the very fabric of technology. In such a scenario can there still exist true mirrors of anti-environments? Moreover, has the ecological narrative in art evolved or stagnated since its reemergence in the mid 20th century because of this? In this regard, I look at three works - Hans Haacke's Condensation Cube, 1965, Olafur Eliasson's Your Waste of Time, 2006, and Random International's Rain Room, 2012 to not only explore the evolution of the narrative over time, but also to look at the role technology plays in these particular pieces. Scratch beyond the surface and there is a tendency that technology rather than revealing, conceals the true nature of the dialogue. The hope then lies on being aware of the illusion of the illusion of technology in the work of art.