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The Progress of Ambiguity: Uncertain Imagery in Digital Culture

Title:

The Progress of Ambiguity: Uncertain Imagery in Digital Culture

Proulx, Mikhel (2013) The Progress of Ambiguity: Uncertain Imagery in Digital Culture. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Within a culture of persistent efficiency, ambiguous imagery represents a critical alternative. This thesis bridges studies in technology history, network and political theory, and art history. It attempts to account for contemporary artistic practices that critically address some of the objectionable tendencies within digital culture. These practices, this thesis proposes, may be best characterized by their radical use of ambiguity and un-certainty – qualities at clear odds with the rational, efficient nature of digital technologies. This thesis indicates a lineage of this nature in computer and Internet history, twentieth-century cybernetics, and larger philosophic histories. Rooted in symbolic logic, digital technologies carry a heritage of disambiguation—a dominancy of overdetermined, reason-based principles writ furtively in algorithms and protocols. They thus espouse ideologies via systematized calculation and centralized command, despite the commonly-perceived transparency, fluidity and egalitarianism of the Net.
Working within-but-against these surreptitious structures are radical practices that critique, undermine, leverage, and offer alternatives to ideologies of disambiguation. In opposition to a contracted, answers-fixated dominant culture, artists are advantageously positioned to point back to the realm of questions – in all of its arable uncertainty, inquisitiveness and ambiguity. This thesis is structured around case-studies of artwork made by Constant Dullaart, Rosa Menkman, Jon Rafman, Internet Surfing Clubs, Ryan Trecartin, and Oliver Laric. Their practices contest the disambiguous nature of digital technologies to open up critical fissures in the semantic structure of digital culture.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Proulx, Mikhel
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Date:11 April 2013
Thesis Supervisor(s):Jim, Alice Ming Wai
Keywords:contemporary art, digital culture, ambiguity, disambiguation, aesthetics
ID Code:977082
Deposited By: MIKHEL JOSEPH PROULX
Deposited On:10 Jun 2013 16:49
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:43
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