How we are together
: generosity and dissonance in internet-situated performance art

  • Jane Dunlop

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


How we are together: generosity and dissonance in internet-situated
performance art is a practice as research PhD that focuses on how artistic
practices engage with the increasing ubiquity of internet communication.
Specifically, it addresses how performance art practices respond to the ways
internet-enabled technologies augment and extend the interactions between
individuals. How we are together investigates what “together” means as
internet communication technologies become ubiquitous, and how social
relations interweave the on and offline sites of contemporary culture. Through
a series of artworks devised alongside written analyses, the project
demonstrates the ways in which “internet-situated” performance and
performative artworks highlight the increasing digital mediation of
contemporary practices of relation. These practices, and the relationships
instantiated through them, are the basis of an investigation into the entangled
politics of the emotional and technological. How we are together defines a set
of contemporary “internet-situated” performance art practices, creating a
subset of internet art that is specifically using and referring to the social
processes of digital communications. The innovative nature of this thesis
emerges from its approach to the interconnected emotional and technological
politics of internet communications through its theorising of the concepts
“generosity” and “dissonance”. Expanding upon Rosalyn Diprose’s Corporeal
Generosity (2004), this project demonstrates how generosity operates as a
tool in artistic practice that emphasises relation and enacts a specific
openness and care through the terms of reciprocity in exchange. Dissonance,
defined by building on theories of friction, failure and disruption in both
technology and performance, provides a new critical intervention into the
imbrication of emotion with digital technologies in contemporary culture. The
conceptual and practical interventions of dissonance and generosity are
demonstrated across the written analyses and artistic practice, which
developed in parallel over the period of research. The project asks: In what
specific ways is the practice of art shaped and forged by the new
contingencies of relations that emerge within internet-situated contexts? In
answering this question, I combine performance studies and feminist cultural theories with practice as research; this produces a new and innovative
engagement with both digital philosophies and performance practices. This
practice as research approach draws on feminist epistemologies to
emphasise situated knowledges and emotion. In this way, the thesis bridges
the theoretical gap between theories that address the politics of emotion and
those that focus on the impacts of digital technologies.
Date of AwardJul 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorPaul Sermon (Supervisor)

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