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Title: Artistic prototypes : from laboratory practices to curatorial strategies
Authors: Arrigoni, Gabriella
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: My thesis introduces new kinds of understandings of artistic practice taking place in laboratories and engaging with the design, production and critique of technological artefacts. The recent spread of artworks based on physical computing widened and enhanced the role of prototyping in the making of new media art. Indeed prototyping can be now considered as a medium in its own right. My point of departure was an investigation of artists working in academic labs, which led me to question the relationship between research and aesthetic production. My initial argument was that the research process is having a specific impact on art practice, with artefacts understood at least by their makers as incomplete and expecting further manipulation. These artworks are open to transformation and collaborative intervention and refuse any form of material or conceptual black-boxing. The notion of artistic prototypes emerges to enrich the vocabulary to comprehend, evaluate and curate the outcomes of these practices. By analysing a range of artworks that could be conceptualised as prototypical, I soon realised that artistic prototypes are often created for activist purposes too, as a way to critique current behaviours and attitudes and to demonstrate that alternative ones are possible. A major contribution of the thesis is a theoretical framework that outlines the behaviour of artistic prototypes. Openness and fictionality are introduced as key features and it is explained how they support both activism and research. The thesis also provides a contingent aesthetics of prototyping addressing both practitioners’ choices and public reception. A further contribution comprises a number of curatorial projects that develop or respond to the framework. The latter can have an impact on creative practitioners, and on curators and heritage professionals, to the point of deeply affecting established principles of conservation and interpretation.
Description: PhD
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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