Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Nature & Spirit: A Digital Lens of Gay-Male Culture
Brandon S. Gellis
2nd Author
3rd Author
Master of Fine Arts
Number of Pages
University of Denver
Thesis Supervisor
Timothy Weaver
Supervisor e-mail
Timothy.Weaver AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Emergent Digital Practices
Languages Familiar to Author
URL where full thesis can be found
LGBTQ, sexuality, technology, biomimicry, biomimetics, digital and new media
Abstract: 200-500 words
History is fraught with critical reactions toward homosexuality. Within the United States, response by the culture-at-large (mainstream culture) towards this sexual orientation underwent a radical transformation within the last one hundred years. Toward the beginning of the 20th century, homosexuality was deemed immoral and punishable by law, necessitating that most homosexuals remained closeted and forcing gay communities to evolve separately from, yet in parallel to, the culture-at-large. However, by the 1960s gay political organizations began publicly protesting the mistreatment of gay communities, and arguing for equal treatment and the decriminalization of homosexuality. Burdened by the mid-20th century art world’s homophobic tendencies, gay artists of this time period embraced these political ideals, which sparked their development of bodies of work challenging traditional notions of sexuality, gender, love and eroticism. These early forays into expressing gay culture within mainstream art became foundational for digital and new media artists to gain critical voices, which enabled them to lash out at personal and cultural affronts. Nature & Spirit: A Digital Lens of Gay-Male Culture explores how the culture-at-large (the mainstream culture) has specifically suppressed gay-male behavior, simultaneously fueling the formation of support networks and popular gay characteristics (e.g. lingo & speak, art, camp and drag). Revisiting 20th century expressions of gay-male culture through 21st century new media practices, Nature & Spirit decodes and interprets the interplay of identity politics and biological politics in dialogue with biomimetic creative practices. Nature & Spirit begins with the identification of critical vectors by which the culture-at-large has critiqued gay men. With time gay men have remastered such criticisms, developing behavioral tools of empowerment and allowing for better incorporation of gay culture into the culture-at-large. Crucial to this discussion is a series of personally informed creative explorations that have influenced discussions of sexual identity and biological politics. As a conceptual artist, it is imperative that I consider placement of myself in this work. Ultimately, Nature & Spirit represents my personal feelings about my youth, family and friends, and aims to reference the natural spirit within all beings.