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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Expanded Internet Art and the Informational Milieu
by Moss, Cecilia Laurel, Ph.D., New York University, 2015, 187; 3740855
Abstract (Summary)

“Expanded Internet Art and the Informational Milieu” examines the expansion of internet art beyond the screen in the 2000’s, especially towards sculpture and installation, as a product of what theorist Tiziana Terranova called an “informational milieu”. The term “expanded” is defined as the action or process of spreading out or unfolding; the state of being spread out or unfolded, a quality that reflects the drift and circulation of these types of nimble and flexible artworks that they can be a sculpture, an installation, or a file. Contemporary internet art is no longer determined solely by its existence online; rather, contemporary artists are making more art about informational culture using various methods of both online and offline means, which results in a type of expanded internet art. For artworks that volley between networked data files and physical materials, the internet is not seen as the sole platform for the production of a work, but instead as a crucial nexus around which to research, assemble, transmit, and present data, both online and offline. This move is seen as a response to an informational milieu. Drawing from the processual dynamics within philosopher Gilbert Simondon’s model of a “milieu”, Terranova defines the informational milieu as the immersive and excessive informational dynamics that reorganize culture and representation so that they may be more legible as information.

This dissertation asks how the widespread technological capture of information found under an informational milieu affects cultural production, specifically contemporary art. The first chapter describes expanded internet art, providing examples and surveying related terms developed by art historians and critics to explain this move. The second chapter presents an intellectual history of Simondon’s term “milieu” and its resurgence in the work of contemporary media theorists like Tiziana Terranova, Mark B. N. Hansen and Bernard Stiegler. Alongside his colleagues in 1950s France, Georges Canguilhem and Raymond Ruyer, Simondon was critical of the tendency for cybernetics to flatly distill everything to systems, and he saw the symbiotic ontology at the heart of his concept of milieu as a radical departure. Anglophone media theorists rediscovering Simondon in the 1990s and 2000s now see this symbiotic ontology as a normative state, creating a need to reconsider the milieu. The third chapter uses Jean Francois Lyotard’s exhibition Les Immatériaux and his writings on art and technology in the 1980s to situate an informational milieu as an aspect of post-modernism, while also revealing its effect on temporality and language. Lyotard’s concept of an anamnesis is taken up as a means of resistance to optimization and development. The last chapter returns to the topic of expanded internet art, but explores its significance within an attention economy and for a post-human audience. Chapter 4 ends with the recommendation that the anamnesis offered by Lyotard should intersect with Simondon’s resonance in a type of image catalyst, such that the artwork would critically engage the conditions of its existence, while opening up new potentials.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Apter, Emily, Galloway, Alexander
Commitee: Cook, Sarah, Gitelman, Lisa, Groys, Boris
School: New York University
Department: Comparative Literature
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 77/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Art history, Web Studies
Keywords: Gilbert simondon, Internet art, Jean-françois lyotard, Media studies, Milieu, Post-modernism
Publication Number: 3740855
ISBN: 978-1-339-32982-6
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