Diffracting digital public space(s):matters and in-matters

Lujan Escalante, Maria Alejandra (2017) Diffracting digital public space(s):matters and in-matters. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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This thesis is a diffractive experiment, inspired by the agential realism of Karen Barad that allowed me to consider digital public space(s) through philosophies of technology, design and creative practices and with fictional stories that become waves of unruly phenomena from within. The research assumes an ontological move from being to becoming through catalytic encounters with others, human and non-human. Digital Public Space (dps) as a term was born between BBC’s and British Library’s desire to open up their digital archives to the public. The AHRC research project Creative Exchange (CX) adopted dps as a design challenge for knowledge exchange. As a member of the CX project I am making sense of dps in the context of practices emerging from the hybridity of the digital-physical domain. At the centre of my research are crossovers of academic interests, institutional dispositions, concepts, imaginations, people and stuff – wires, screens, paper prototypes, lines of code, doodles in the corner of the page. Meaningful, like a song, a memory, a photograph, a warm friendly hand or mundane, like streets, pans, toys and dust. I am making sense of how these matter and enable me to re-conceptualise the idea of digital public space. I am as concerned with the materiality of digital public spaces as with the “nothingness” within its materiality, which I propose is, far from nothing, but in-material. At the core of my investigation is a study of time and memory that contributes to new materialist conversations. By diffracting Husserl’s studies of internal perception of time, Stiegler’s exteriorization of memories in things, and Simondon’s transductive ideas, through Baradian agential realism. I speculate about in-matter. That which is in between and within matter, is time; the retentions of past and possibilities of futures. The generative differentiation that is underlying my in-matter proposal opens possibilities for careful and response-able practices. I diffract theories to think in methods to build a framework of emergence, with which to encounter knowledge through creative uses of digital technologies in public spaces, and allow a discussion of dps on its own terms. I consider three aspects of digital public space(s) grounded in collaborative projects: the digital-physical, focussing on participatory design of wearables, the public-private using the production of a public art installation, and the space-place discussed in the context of memorial and war commemoration. I am ‘doing’ theory, collaborating in practices and telling a story. I am taking up the challenge of applying Baradian diffraction in creative practices. My experimentation is more than a structural model to present the research. It is inspired by an epistemological disagreement with the separation of the researcher, what is researched, the apparatus of knowing, and presenting knowledge. The reiterations and contingencies of this method provoke a rhythm of time, propose a space, part meaning, part tangible, that does not just describe dps but performs my relationship with it. My research comes to matter in the framework of emergence that proposes new parameters for discussing ethics, politics and poetics of digital public space(s) in the making.

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Thesis (PhD)
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30 Mar 2017 13:42
Last Modified:
05 Nov 2023 01:21