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Choreography in the Digital Era: Dancing the Cultural Differences of Technology


In this dissertation I argue that body movement can produce new and transgressive physical relationships to ordinary media. To do so, I analyze artworks that foreground the historical, cultural, and ethnic patterns of choreographic movement. Important to this exploration is how the design, production, and dissemination of different media can foster or suppress specificity and identity from feminist, queer, disability, and postcolonial perspectives. Focusing on artists who appropriate technological production to articulate specific kinesthetic relationships to media, I identify minoritarian perspectives on technology in specific historical and cultural circumstances to complicate the universalizing tendencies of digital culture discourses.

Building on the tradition of phenomenological analysis of performance and technology experimentation, Choreography in the Digital Era: Dancing the Cultural Differences of Technology expands aesthetic inquiries in the field of dance and technology to examine historical and cultural contexts. The project resides at the intersection of performance and new media, and brings history to bear on the present in order to imagine more culture- and identity-specific digital futures. International artists who make space for political and cultural perspectives at the core of this dissertation include: Lucinda Childs, John Bernd, Rachid Ouramdane, and the Electronic Disturbance Theater. These artists employ varying styles of somatic and kinesthetic engagement, which illustrates how performers and viewers interact with media devices on several levels. I examine these differences to reveal how “mediation” is in constant flux. By challenging the idea of a universal user in digital culture, this dissertation argues that mediation and its socio-cultural contexts impact the way performers move. In foregrounding this movement, my research brings forth the individual identities and cultural stories that universalist conceptions of digitality otherwise overlook.

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