• Material-Digital Resistance: Toward a Tactics of Visibility

Rahaim, Margaret, 2015, Thesis, Material-Digital Resistance: Toward a Tactics of Visibility PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This research considers the ways in which digital, networked technologies influence contemporary everyday life and creative practice. Through studio practice and writing, I ask how a contemporary condition of everyday life, characterised by the suppression of distance in speed of communication and the ubiquitous presence of surveillant apparatuses, affects the way we understand and use the image. I also consider the role of the digital image in both destabilizing and reinforcing human agency.
In the past, tactical creativity was protected by a level of invisibility from the vision of authority, as described by Michel de Certeau. With the the spread of networked technologies, that invisibility is no longer possible. I take Vilem Flusser’s methodology of ‘playing against the camera’—a recipe for overcoming of the functionalist relationship between human and image technology—as a possible model for establishing my own and identifying other artists’ practices as tactics of visibility.
I seek to develop a material consciousness of the digital image based on ontologies that assert the materiality of its processes and effects. In studio work, I blend manual and digital techniques for image-making in order to expose the structure of the digital image. I attempt the work of the apparatus outside the apparatus, by performing digital processes by hand, creating a model of difference and refining a physical sense of the disparity between human and computer scales through the reassertion of the body in a process of making. Using Kendall Walton’s notio
of photographic transparency, I make an argument for the affective potency of the ‘poor image’, evidenced in artwork and mass media, as inseparable from its materiality. I fictionalize aspects of this transparency, depicting an impossible reality and allowing me to model present anxieties stemming from the rise of digital image production.
I find that transparency and the instantaneity of the digital network are responsible in part for the obfuscation of digital materiality, as well as a confused sense of spatial relationships and personal interconnection. Image quality is politicized by connotations of credibility or agenda as it bends to the need for ever-faster communications. Though certain characteristics of the digital image encourage or sustain an ignorance with regard to its materiality, these characteristics can also be exploited to foreground materiality in art practice that aligns itself with the spirit and purpose, if not the invisibility, of de Certeau’s tactics, and the critical methods of resistance to a programme of technology suggested by Flusser.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art > W140 Printmaking
Creative Arts and Design > W600 Cinematics and Photography > W610 Moving Image Techniques
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2015 15:08
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2018 15:45
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1685
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