Critical data aesthetics: towards a critically reflexive practice of data aestheticisation

Goatley, Wesley (2019) Critical data aesthetics: towards a critically reflexive practice of data aestheticisation. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis responds to the aesthetic representation of data in multiple cultural contexts, arguing that a critical exploration of these aesthetics is necessary and needs to be elaborated. In this thesis, this is undertaken through three works produced across the duration of this project: Breathing Mephitic Air, an installation that aestheticises air pollution data (exhibited at Somerset House, London); Ground Resistance, an installation that explored data and representation in a smart city system (exhibited at Milton Keynes International Festival 2016); and The Dark Age of Connectionism: Captivity, a sound installation that centered upon the opacity of the Amazon Echo (exhibited at Haunted Machines/Impakt Festival, Utrecht).

In the first chapter, ‘Contexts’, I lay out the critical studies of data, artistic practices and dispositions which underpinned this project and informed the works produced through it. The second chapter, ‘Breathing Mephitic Air’, opens with a critique of claims to sensor objectivity using Daston and Galison’s concept of ‘mechanical objectivity’ alongside Donna Haraway’s ‘situated knowledges’, before exploring the relationship of these theories to the aesthetic decisions in the chapter’s titular work. The third chapter ‘Ground Resistance’ critiques how the promises of the ‘smart city’ relate to the aesthetic representations of it in phenomena such as the dashboard interface. These are discussed further in relation to the Ground Resistance installation, detailing how its production was both informed by and re-informed my theoretical concerns. In chapter four ‘The Dark Age of Connectionism: Captivity’ the ‘smart speaker’ field of devices is critically examined with particular focus on the opacity of these devices and their related networked infrastructures. The Dark Age of Connectionism: Captivity is then presented and assessed as a response to these conditions through critically reflexive practice. The final chapter ‘Towards a Critical Data Aesthetics’ reflects upon the works and their relationship to the concerns of the thesis, including the ethical and political considerations and their importance in a dispositional approach to critical data aesthetics work.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > Media and Film
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy > BD143 Epistemology. Theory of knowledge > BD220 Objectivity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2019 06:53
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:48

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