Title

New Ruins

Date of Award

May 2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

Art

Committee Member

David Detrich

Committee Member

Beth Lauritis

Committee Member

Todd McDonald

Abstract

New Ruins is an exhibit of sculptures that integrates physical, natural, digital forms and materials. These works are constructed as ruins of the future, involving materials and systems that carry concerning implications for tomorrow.

I demonstrate two main bodies of work through this investigation. Re-encodings display large-scale assemblages of concrete, foam, organic matter and mechanical detritus with projection map glitched digital video animating their surfaces. Additionally, Generative Ruins are a series of 3D printed sculptures modelled through algorithms that parameterize and procedurally generate ruins.

Because the presentation of these works echoes the display of archaeological finds my sculptures have a temporally dislocated quality. The incorporation of aesthetic influences from the capriccio of 18th century landscapes to Brutalist architecture to science fiction provides further visual and narrative entry points for the viewer to read my work.

The works in this exhibit are specifically oriented to investigate the agency of digital forms and systems, an inherent quality of digital content which mediates an increasing amount of our interactions. I believe we are often blind to digital agency due to our positioning within such deeply integrated digital forces. Through this body of work, the viewer witnesses digital agency as a significant mediator between the way we perceive nature, material, and space. New Ruins constructs this perspective by utilizing the ruin as a format to decontextualize and re-encode physical and digital forms. I exhibit the essence of digital agency through these ruins that experimentally question the threshold between physical and digital space.

Building upon the ideas of New Materialism and Posthumanism, my research is in conversation with theorists such as Jane Bennett and Timothy Morton that acknowledge non-human agency in objects and systems. My attribution of agency to digital forms and systems is informed by Gilles Deleuze, specifically his work on the rhizome. Aesthetically and conceptually, New Ruins is influenced by the artistic practices of Peter Buggenhout, Mark Dion, Rafik Anadol, and Giovanni Batista Piranesi.

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