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  • Mapping utopian art: alternative political imaginaries in new media art (2008-2015)

Balaskas, Vasileios (Bill), 2017, Thesis, Mapping utopian art: alternative political imaginaries in new media art (2008-2015) PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This thesis investigates the proliferation of alternative political imaginaries in the Web-based art produced during the global financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath (2008-
2015), with a particular focus on the influence of communist utopianism. The thesis begins by exploring the continuous relevance of utopianism to Western political thought,
including the historical context within which the financial crisis of 2008 occurred. This
context has been defined by the new political, social and cultural milieu produced by the
development of Data Capitalism – the dominant economic paradigm of the last two
decades. In parallel, the thesis identifies the “organic” connections between leftist utopian
thought and networked technologies, in order to claim that the events of 2008 functioned
as a catalyst for their reactivation and expansion. Following this analysis, the thesis focuses
on how politically engaged artists have reacted to the global financial crisis through the use
of the World Wide Web. More specifically, the thesis categorises a wide range of artworks,
institutional and non-institutional initiatives, as well as theoretical texts that have either
been written by artists, or have inspired them. The result of this exercise is a mapping of
the post-crisis Web-based art, which is grounded on the technocultural tools employed by
artists as well as on the main concepts and ideals that they have aimed at materialising
through the use of such tools. Furthermore, the thesis examines the interests of Data
Capitalists in art and the Internet, and the kinds of restrictions and obstacles that they have
imposed on the political use of the Web in order to safeguard them. Finally, the thesis
produces an overall evaluation of the previously analysed cultural products by taking into
account both the objectives of their creators and the external and internal limitations that
ultimately shape their character. Accordingly, the thesis locates the examined works within
the ideological spectrum of Marxist and post-Marxist thought in order to formulate a series
of proposals about the future of politically engaged Web-based art and the ideological
potentialities of networked communication at large.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art > W190 Fine Art not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Funders: Comité International d'Histoire de l'Art, European Cultural Foundation, Open Society Institute
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2017 16:14
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2017 16:14
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2844

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