Studio as Laboratory: Experimental Cinema and Technoscience during the Cold War


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


History of Art


This dissertation examines the ways in which US avant-garde cinema and multimedia installations from 1958 to 1980 became grounds for experimenting with technoscientific knowledge and generating new modes of artistic practice. Within the context of this seminal interface between art and science during the Cold War, experimentation does not suggest aesthetic improvisation, but rather a systematic interrogation of the theoretical underpinnings and intellectual matrices surrounding cybernetics, mathematical logic, systems theory, molecular biology, and information transmission. This project contends that artists and filmmakers who experimented with techniques such as numerical precision in ordering film frames, adoption of multiscreen projection, integration of live video feeds, recursive film loops, and painterly manipulation of the filmstrip’s surface critically engaged with the radical shifts in the conceptualization of relationships between information and meaning, body and technology, and language and image.