Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Research Paper - Final Submitted December 1, 2010

For this research paper, we were asked to address a theoretical concern central to our practice. Below is the first part that includes my research question, the abstract, as well as the keywords. The end result paper is available on the following link:

Research Question:

Transitional digital objects: Fluidity in compositing an autobiography or a failure to create a portrait of the whole?


The paper explores the transitional aspect of digital objects in relation to autobiography. D.W. Winnicott (1971) coined the term ‘transitional objects’; it travels around the theme of object and fantasy. The paper assumes the fluid nature of digital objects, ‘a new media object’ could be ‘variable, mutable, liquid’ as per Manovich’s (2001) definition. Placing autobiography as the aim from transitional digital objects manipulation, the paper questions whether the fluidity will act as a facilitator to autobiographical visual compositing or will it fail to create a portrait of the whole?

The first part is dedicated to looking at the fluidity of digital objects through observing and relating theories and artworks of practitioners who have investigated the theme object. Mark Leckey (2008) exemplifies the dissolved physical into a digital object at the beginning of the century and by its end; Hollis Frampton (1969) doubts the object’s third dimensionality on the screen; Sherry Turkle (2007) emphasizes the emotional in objects; whereas Donna Haraway (1991) rejects the concept of objects being sacred in themselves; the Cult of Less (2009) upload their material lives on external hard drives and online services platforms; and Michael Craig-Martin (1973) challenges belief through a glass of water, a shelf and a printed text in his sculpture An Oak Tree.

The second part is focused on autobiography compositing. Different autobiographical manifestations come together to reach the final conclusion later. Christiane Paul (2008) defines the new nomadic nature; Mark Amerika (2007) speaks of the ‘hyperimprovisational narrative artist’ in Meta/Data; William Burroughs (1970) discusses the viral in the language; and Marcel Proust (1913) gives a lesson in generative autobiographical storytelling and involuntary memory in his book Remembrance of Things Past, specifically the episode of the Madeleine; Lev Manovich (2005) concludes this section with his compositing in the digital realm theory that leads to ‘deep remixability’.

The conclusion is preceded by notes on ‘recollection’ according to Mark Freeman (1995) and the ‘wholistic fictionalization of the past’ by Michel Foucault (1973) as well as Nietzsche’s (1889) statement of ‘the whole’ that ‘no longer lives at all: it is composed, reckoned up, artificial, a fictitious thing’.

The findings of the paper affirm the fluidity of autobiographical compositing through transitional digital objects as well as the failure of creating the portrait of the whole but do not judge the latter conclusion as necessarily inconvenient.


New Media Object – Autobiographical Compositing – Transitional – Fluidity – Wholeness

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