The crystal world: executing a new media materialism

Kemp, J. 2013. The crystal world: executing a new media materialism. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design

TitleThe crystal world: executing a new media materialism
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsKemp, J.

This thesis presents practice-based research to establish new forms of social and artistic

production through examinations of the materiality of the technical media, namely the

computer, that underpins new media art.

Contemporary new media art practice has tended to focus attention on software or

hardware interfaces, interactivity and network communications. Whilst explorations of

these specific affordances of computational media have been important they have generally

avoided a more informed engagement with the material structures that frame, underpin,

and ultimately shape the works produced with these media.

The hypothesis of the research is that a richer understanding of the creative potentials of

computational media as a form of practice can accrue from an active engagement with

these material foundations in which any computational device employed in a media art

practice is embedded.

Thus the research presents a novel methodology for approaching new media art, driven by

an imperative to engage with the computational, not from some abstract and universalised point-of-view, but up close with a focus on the materiality of its media and thus on matter


Hence a second assumption in the research is that this lacunae has impacted on the

geology of ideas around new media theory and practice, and includes a failure to account

for the intractable difficulties around the material production of the technical media that

underpins new media art.

Following Karen Barad, the research employs, a diffractive methodology - a practice of

presenting computational materiality through insights and traditions while paying attention

to their differences, including the material effects of their constitutive exclusions .

Using this methodology, new forms of production have been achieved with the

participation of diverse groups of people in workshops, “open laboratories”, and two exhibitions. It is intended that the methodology can be adapted, used and developed by

practitioners in new media art, philosophy, media archaeology, museology, ethnography

and anthropology.

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