Light, Sound, Systems, Deer: Nonhuman Agency & Intermedia Practice

Author: ORCID icon
Christie, Alex, Music - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Coffey, Ted, Music, University of Virginia

This dissertation presents a creative practice that aims to thoroughly recognize the agency of nonhuman forces in the composition, design, and performance of intermedia work. Throughout this document, I employ concepts from Actor-Network Theory—to varying degrees of specificity—as a means of illustrating artistic concepts and as a framework for the analysis and composition of intermedia art.

The creative work presented in this dissertation examines the interactions of sound, light, sculpture, theater, and architecture, and investigates the overlapping identities of compositions, electronic systems, and musical instruments in the intermedia realm. As such, analyses pay special attention to the artistic emergence that occurs in physical space.

Chapter 0 establishes a foundation of Actor-Network Theory concepts and terminology that is applied to the composition, performance, and analysis of the intermedia work presented in Chapters 1-4. Chapter 1 describes an approach to the composition of interactive light and sound that I refer to as photosonic composition, and offers a collection of pieces that illustrate the artistic interactions and emergent effects of various media. Chapter 2 provides a detailed analysis of the design and refinement of one of my photosonic intermedia compositions, System Blocks Signal Blocks System, and further investigates the role of heterogenous actor-networks in intermedia composition. Chapter 3 analyzes 27b/6, a combined instrument-system-composition of my own design that reconfigures the conventional power relations between performer and musical instrument. Chapter 4 presents a shift in my intermedia practice and compositional priorities that emerged from an encounter with a deer.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Composition, Music Technology, Intermedia, Electronic Music, Photosonic Composition, Actor-Network Theory
Issued Date: