Date of Award

12-1-2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Gingrich-Philbrook, Craig

Abstract

This dissertation project seeks to answer questions at the intersection of performance and new media with special attention to aesthetic practice. Primarily, the central issue at stake is the issue of material relationships between bodies and technologies as put into practice in a variety of aesthetic forms, including net art, staged performance, and internet memes. After an introduction, the second chapter discusses the method of analysis, schizoanalysis, in depth, drawing from the work of both Deleuze and Guattari as collaborators and Guattari’s extensive solo work. The next chapter addresses the new materialist paradigm that acts as the foundational commitment for seeing staged performances and digital performances as overlapping categories of phenomena. From there, the analysis shifts to questions of ontology, including the impact of naming certain behaviors on the understanding of those behaviors as well as the nature of performance itself. Just as Peggy Phelan asserts that performance is ephemeral, immediate, and nonreproducible, one can see encounters with new media under this same framework. The following three chapters act as specific case studies, using screen theory to understand staged performances, sequential art theory to explain the relationships between disparate parts of both new mediated and staged performance, and theories of identity and gender to understand selfies as constructive digital performances. Though this project offers no guarantees or certitudes, certain themes did emerge through the analysis, such as the place of the body in discourses of technology; connections between the audience and the art object, the art object and its environment, and the audience and the environment; and the impact of time, especially immediacy, on the understanding of both staged and mediated works. The hope of this project is necessarily one of offering answer, but instead of point to new questions and offering some starting points for further consideration.

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