PhD-Thesis - Concordia University, Montreal:

Ecologies of Relation: Collectivity in Art and Media

How can relation be considered a creative force in the composition of experience? Investigating the status of relation in art, media, and philosophy, this thesis outlines an account of research-creation as a creative practice and tool for analysis. Research-creation, a term used to describe creative practices comprising artistic and theoretical components, provides the backdrop for a more general discussion of the production of knowledge beyond human cognition. By taking a radical empiricist approach, the thesis proposes to include preindividual, affective, and more-than-human elements in the conception of experience. From this point of view, experience is always relationally composed and manifests itself dynamically as an “ecology.” One way of developing a theory and practice attentive to such ecologies of relation resides in the notion of the collective, which refers here to a dimension of experience that exceeds the mere grouping of individual elements under a common interest, ideology, or social bond. The first chapter analyzes collectivity and relation as activities of emergence and becoming. Considered as ecological activity, collectivity emphasizes how experience comprises spatio-temporal dynamics constituting embodied, actual events and their singular forms of knowledge. Using the work of the SenseLab as exemplary, this chapter clarifies how research-creation might be better understood as an investigation into aesthetic and conceptual practices that mutually shape how forms of knowledge and experience co-emerge. From here, the focus on the ecological relation moves toward immersive media environments, which emphasize perception as a relational act of immediation. Immediation as relational act challenges the paradigm of mediation between humans and machines, and instead inserts their activity into an ecological dynamic. In this chapter, research-creation interlaces with concerns in the field of digital aesthetics. Consequently, the entanglements between different temporalities in digital media processes require a rethinking of affect as a temporal operation, which is the focus of chapter three. In chapters four and the conclusion, research-creation as a relational-ecological practice opens up toward political concerns in urban planning and activism, respectively, allowing for the development of an extended conception of the aesthetic politics of the collective beyond art and academia. From a final speculative outlook the thesis asks how an ecological and collective account of research-creation might turn philosophy into an aesthetic and political practice of activation.

MA-Thesis - Goldmsiths, University of London:

Music, Gender and Technology: The Potential for Difference in Ecologies of Electronic Music

Club Cultures have marked a significant field in the Music (and Pop) Cultural Studies. The specific relations between sound and its technologies, body and environment (ecology) are used to trace the conceptual notion of difference across these dimensions of Club Cultures. Other than the often-employed conceptions of the club as place for experiencing difference from the pressure of everyday discursive capture, the club here functions as part and parcel of a wider ecology of practices that forms the electronic music assemblage. Difference yields not a mere alterity but a conceptual and ethico-aesthetic assemblage. The assemblage in electronic music cultures (here mostly House and Minimal House) between music, gender and technology produces a field of resonance for difference as the very core of its cultural productivity. Conceptualizing sound as a process of differentiation from noise (as the omnipresent background) and regarding gender constellations as primordially different, technology plays the missing link between sonic events and their embodied perception. With the use of the example of the Robert Johnson Club in Offenbach am Main and an interview with the electronic music producer Ada, the dimensions of a potential becoming in difference through the sound-body-technology assemblage are contrasted with actual ecologies of production in electronic music cultures. On the one hand the opening potential of a primordial difference for creative processes to emerge are contextualized with the experience of a successful female producer. On the other hand the productive nexus of the Robert Johnson Club links its peers to a specific ethics of production and creation including the club’s close relation to the adjacent Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach, and different micro-economies such as Airbag (a popular record-bag producer) or Ongaku (an important record label). The final argument therefore emerges from a re-conceptualization of the notion of difference to demonstrate a form of different becoming and creation that never lies outside the everyday but marks difference in a constant series of differentiations.