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Title: The Amerika machine : art and technology between the USA and the USSR, 1926 to 1933
Author: Haran, Barnaby Emmett
ISNI:       0000 0004 2673 0749
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis concerns the meeting of art and technology in the cultural arena of the American avant-garde during the late 1920s and early 1930s. It assesses the impact of Russian technological Modernism, especially Constructivism, in the United States, chiefly in New York where it was disseminated, mimicked, and redefined. It is based on the paradox that Americans travelling to Europe and Russia on cultural pilgrimages to escape America were greeted with 'Amerikanismus' and 'Amerikanizm', where America represented the vanguard of technological modernity. They returned to America with examples of and reports on Constructivism and an attendant enthusiasm for American technology, which manifested as 'machine art'. It proved deeply problematic when Leftist artists attempted to marry this notion of Amerika with a critique of the divisiveness of American industry and tried to construct a radical Americanism with the tools of Amerikanizm. This study covers work in several media, including photography, cinema, theatre, literature, printmaking, and architecture. I chart the introduction of Constructivism into America through publications and exhibitions during the period. The first chapter follows the emergence of Constructivism in Europe and its arrival in America, most notably at the 1927 Machine-Age Exposition, and its slow transformation into the apolitical International Style. Chapter Two assesses the impact of Constructivist theatre in America, with particular reference to the radical New Playwrights Theatre. The third chapter concerns the machine aesthetic in the photography of Ralph Steiner and Walker Evans. The final chapter addresses the discourse and practice of montage in the American experimental cinema. I am concerned with a period that straddles the Crash of 1929, but precedes the New Deal relief programmes. It is an analysis of culture at the blurred boundary of radical politics and experimentation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available