UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Estranging information : media art’s pedagogical potential in the age of information capitalism Day, Kevin


This research is a concept-based cultural analysis of media art that engages with the socio-political issues of information and communication technology (ICT) assemblages in today’s information society through media studies, philosophy of technology, and art theory, theorized in conjunction with the pedagogical and critical capacity of visual art, and explored through a close reading of eight case studies of media artworks. The research begins by articulating the socio-political landscape within which it is situated, one that recognizes the problem of algorithm-facilitated data-mining practices that encode the everyday and exploit the users in the big data economy for further entrenchment of decentralized control. It asserts that media art needs to address digital media by examining the underpinning logic of information within the wider landscape of information capitalism. Guided by a framework that pulls together theories of media and technology and theories of art pedagogy, my research argues that visual art engaged with digital media polemics has the capacity to subvert the normalized and entrenched information-based way of knowing through the tactic of estrangement and its potential to foster ways of knowing otherwise in relation to ICT. To substantiate the argument, my research interrogates the concept of information and positions it as an epistemic model through which one comes to make sense of the world, one that sustains the operation of information capitalism, and precisely that which visual/media art should tackle and question. The research argues against the binary of the knowing subject dominating and abstracting knowable objects inherent in informatics, against the claim that information is capable of adequately and neutrally representing the phenomena of the material world. Instead, it insists on the ‘other’ of information, the embodied contexts and performative materials of noise. Entwined with the theoretical analyses are the examination of several artworks from a diverse group of artists. These are used to explore how the selected artworks – such as hacked search engines, data-blocking devices, performances based on algorithmically-derived user profiles, hand-crafted infographics, 3D models of hidden data farms, and peer-supported exclusive networks – cultivate ways of knowing differently in relation to ICT operations and the epistemic model of information.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International