Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Cartographic Communications: Latin American New Media Artists in New York, Juan Downey and Jaime Davidovich (1960s–1980s)
by Montross, Sarah J., Ph.D., New York University, 2012, 428; 3546460
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation presents a model for interpreting the work of Juan Downey (Chilean, 1940-1993) and Jaime Davidovich (Argentine, b. 1944), two of the foremost Latin American artists working with experimental forms of television and video art during the 1970s and 1980s. They made their most significant contributions while living in downtown New York, a vital nexus point for video art and experimental television. While their approaches differ, this dissertation forwards a joint reading of Davidovich and Downey's art as forms of cartographic communications, a term that broadly links the dimensions of travel, inter-personal communication and forms of mass media which continually cycled through and informed their lives and work. Cartographic communications functioned conceptually and literally, through the construction of inter-personal networks as well as the incorporation of maps and geographical elements into their work. I argue that these aspects were featured most prominently in Downey's Video Trans Americas, an extended inter-American video travelogue series, and Davidovich's cable television initiative, the Artists Television Network. This study investigates the artists' stages of development prior to and following these seminal projects. Considering their status as émigrés, I argue that Downey and Davidovich's work was also productively charged by competing issues of community and alienation, intimacy and mediation. The etymology of the word "television" has a mixed Latin and Greek origin, meaning "far sight." In this regard, this dissertation considers specific dimensions of Downey and Davidovich's creative practice as forms of "perception at a distance" with regard to their witnessing of and creative reflections on political events and repressive conditions in their countries of origin.

This study takes a transnational approach to their work and integrates analysis of relevant socio-political developments in Argentina, Chile and North America, particularly in connection to these countries' relationships during the Cold War. It is hoped that this dissertation will enrich both the comprehension of the lives and work of Juan Downey and Jaime Davidovich, and increase the international panorama of new media art history, especially the historical developments of video art, cable television and alternative communicative networks.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sullivan, Edward J.
Commitee: Slifkin, Robert, Weiss, Jeffrey
School: New York University
Department: Institute of Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 74/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Art history
Keywords: Argentina, Cartographic communications, Chile, Davidovich, Jaime, Downey, Juan, New York City, New media
Publication Number: 3546460
ISBN: 9781267800510
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