Materializing Depths: The Potential of Contemporary Art and Media

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This dissertation argues that critical practices in the expanded field of art, technology, and space illustrate the potential of twenty-first century media by materializing depths of our experiential dimensions. Scholarship on digital embodiment and materialism in art, media studies, and aesthetics has paid much attention to the central role played by the human body in contemporary media environments. Grounded in these studies, however, this study moves forward to understand the more fundamental quality that grounds and conditions the experience of the human body—namely depth.

Drawing on diverse disciplines, such as art history, visual studies, media studies, critical theory, phenomenology, and aesthetics, this study provides a reconstruction of the notion of depth to unpack the complex dimensionality of human experiences that are solicited by different critical spatial practices. As a spatial medium that produces the body subject and the world through the process of intertwining, depth points to an environmental affordance that prepares or conditions the ways in which the body processes the information in the world. The dimension of depth is not available to natural human perception. However, incorporating twenty-first century media that are seamlessly embedded in physical environments, critical spatial practices sensibly materialize the virtual dimensions of depth by animating space in a way that is different from the past.

This dissertation provides comprehensive analyses of these critical spatial practices by artists who create constructed situations that bring the experiential dimensions of depth to the fore. The acknowledgement of depth allows us to understand the spatialities of bodies and their implication in the vaster worldly spatiality. In doing so, this study attends to major contemporary philosophical and aesthetic challenges by reframing the body as the locus of subjectivity that is always interdependent upon broader sociocultural and technological environments.





Choi, Jung Eun (2016). Materializing Depths: The Potential of Contemporary Art and Media. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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