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Meaning as Response: Experience, Behavior, and Interactive Environment Design


Meaning as Response: Experience, Behavior, and Interactive Environment Design

Smoak, Harry (2015) Meaning as Response: Experience, Behavior, and Interactive Environment Design. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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This thesis proposes a novel theory of meaning-as-response inspired by the pragmatist and cultural historian Morse Peckham (1914-1993) and presented for consideration of specifically how artistic behavior can make an immediate difference for affecting technical culture and innovating technical practices. Throughout, the author draws on his own extensive experience and practice of making computational responsive environments conceived of as material experiments for the generation of new forms of thought and feeling. An introduction to Peckham’s original thought is supplied as an entry point for practitioners and theorists alike who are unfamiliar with the most crucial work of this significant “ecological” thinker of the arts. Next, selected aspects of Peckham’s thorough-going behavioral aesthetics are discussed and analyzed in order to contextualize his most important ideas along with their historical and intellectual connections. A primer of Peckham’s “language” of signs is included as supplemental aid for those working along Peckhamian lines. Continuing from the notion of a learning process, next consideration of presuppositions relevant for ongoing practice is taken up. Attention is given in particular to important relevancies during early stages of learning something new or for the first time— from initial interest, to selection and development of working materials, to preparation for wanted further competencies. This research aims to revive interest in this provocative thinker by placing it in a new setting, thereby contributing a fresh angle to recent critical debates on agency, materiality, and embodiment in contemporary art and technology practices. Proposed are strategies that implicate the interests of artist-researchers themselves and bear on efforts to take experimental work outside the insulated spaces of university studio-labs and galleries to put it in connection with a wider array of day-to-day activities. This thesis is concerned with a single problem, namely the possibility of a genuinely new idea emerging from within practice. The relevancy of this problem lies in the fundamental importance of the possibility for all makers, in every place and every time. The question asked is: How can a philosophy of “experience” be applied to the practice and reflection of art-as-research?

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts
Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies > Individualized Program
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Smoak, Harry
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Individualized Program
Date:22 September 2015
Thesis Supervisor(s):Salter, Christopher and Manning, Erin and Sha, Xin Wei
ID Code:980591
Deposited By: HARRY SMOAK
Deposited On:28 Oct 2015 12:25
Last Modified:08 Apr 2019 19:15
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