Westwood, Martin (2017) [sic]_[[sic]'. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


My PhD focuses on the pitfalls and potentials revealed by the discrepancy between making and talking about works of art. Over the last 15 years I have produced and exhibited works which I have commented and elaborated on in lectures at universities, museums and galleries. Providing a public commentary on my art has disclosed to me that mediation is but another form of reproduction in and through different formal, technical and material conditions. With close attention to these conditions, my research seeks to pursue and complicate a leeway between language and exhibit in order to ask if this space of manoeuver can become a site for contesting the opposition between theory and practice. To these ends my research has used a wide and intentionally promiscuous range of discourse, addressing historical artefacts and forging new positions to ascertain a technically produced subjectivity. I identified key motifs moving across technical platforms: a stock photographic file; an unemployed consultant un-gainfully employed; a reenacted heritage ritual and a recording of an artist's voice. These motifs were worked as technical and material propositions through diverse formalities (lecture, ready-made, live and recorded performance, montage, writing). Employing examples of informational mobility allowed me to pose a question: how can the temporality and materiality of an object that is transitioning between, and assembled within, technical, administrative and cognitive platforms be explored? The questions and processes of this research allowed the realization of key findings. Contemporary art assumes that representation, intention, expression and experience are fundamental to artistic acts. In contrast an artwork as an historically and technically contingent iteration replaces the question of what is the artist expressing? With the question of where is expression in assemblage? This question allows context, contingency, transmission, authority and visibility to emerge as mediums. Contemporary arts has incorporated challenges to authorship, experience and expression symbolically but not structurally. This resistance to re-structuring authorship amongst material and technical players conflicts with long-standing and recent enquiries in related fields (media theory, cultural techniques, epigenetics, cybernetics, speculative philosophy, technology studies). Art practices as deliberations between material and technical factors, and administrative and cognitive platforms provide a rich and readymade resource in which to address expressive, experiential and representational assumptions. However, contemporary art risks irrelevancy if its engagement with challenges to representation is restricted to given formal and theoretical assemblages, ones in which autonomous human experience and expression are both materially and technically assembled, and suppressed as such. This thesis navigates this suppression in contemporary art in order to convert formal and theoretical assumptions into material and technical propositions.

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