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Title: Mapping utopian art : alternative political imaginaries in new media art (2008-2015)
Author: Balaskas, Vasileios (Bill)
ISNI:       0000 0004 6349 5178
Awarding Body: Royal College of Art
Current Institution: Royal College of Art
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis investigates the proliferation of alternative political imaginaries in the Web-based art produced during the global financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath (2008- 2015), with a particular focus on the influence of communist utopianism. The thesis begins by exploring the continuous relevance of utopianism to Western political thought, including the historical context within which the financial crisis of 2008 occurred. This context has been defined by the new political, social and cultural milieu produced by the development of Data Capitalism – the dominant economic paradigm of the last two decades. In parallel, the thesis identifies the “organic” connections between leftist utopian thought and networked technologies, in order to claim that the events of 2008 functioned as a catalyst for their reactivation and expansion. Following this analysis, the thesis focuses on how politically engaged artists have reacted to the global financial crisis through the use of the World Wide Web. More specifically, the thesis categorises a wide range of artworks, institutional and non-institutional initiatives, as well as theoretical texts that have either been written by artists, or have inspired them. The result of this exercise is a mapping of the post-crisis Web-based art, which is grounded on the technocultural tools employed by artists as well as on the main concepts and ideals that they have aimed at materialising through the use of such tools. Furthermore, the thesis examines the interests of Data Capitalists in art and the Internet, and the kinds of restrictions and obstacles that they have imposed on the political use of the Web in order to safeguard them. Finally, the thesis produces an overall evaluation of the previously analysed cultural products by taking into account both the objectives of their creators and the external and internal limitations that ultimately shape their character. Accordingly, the thesis locates the examined works within the ideological spectrum of Marxist and post-Marxist thought in order to formulate a series of proposals about the future of politically engaged Web-based art and the ideological potentialities of networked communication at large.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Comité International d'Histoire de l'Art ; European Cultural Foundation ; Open Society Institute
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: W190 Fine Art not elsewhere classified