Out-of-order: The functioning artwork in relation to electronic art and experimental art-devices

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Degree programme
60 + 77
This thesis questions the role of electronics in art. It de nes the meaning and consequences of non-functioning or out-of-order art when electrical components are used. Furthermore it presents a practical exploration and a case- study of an exhibition in order to answer the following research question: ‘What is a functioning artwork in relation to electronic art and experimental art-devices?’ Before one can identify an out-of-order artwork, the electronic art- eld has to be de ned. Electronic art can be de- scribed as a form of new media art, which uses electronics as a medium to explore systems, functions and technologi- cal possibilities. Electronic art-pieces can break in a technological sense, due to their use of electrical components. A non-functioning electrical artwork poses a problem, as it loses a major part of its meaning. When an out-of-order artwork needs to be repaired, the different styles that artists employ for creating electronic art-pieces need to be taken into account. Different strategies for dealing with irreparable artworks are discussed in this thesis. In order to prolong the lifespan of an electrical artwork, artists and institutions should both take responsibility for documenting art-pieces. Where institutions are becoming more aware of their role in the documentation process, artists could take more initiative in providing additional material. Art-devices were developed as a practical exploration of the role of electronics in art and out of curiosity towards how appliances, systems, and electrical objects function. They can be described as objects that produce light, sound or movement and can be composed with, controlled or in uenced by a user. The electronic component is the medium of the art-device and thus produces its meaning. The art-device is closely related to a musical instrument, but where an instrument creates pre-determined tones when played, the output that an art-device produces does not have to follow a logical structure. The art-devices and their respective hand-drawn schematics, user-manuals and a volume with background information were exhibited in the Tekniikan Museo in Helsinki in February 2017. From this exhibition the following could be concluded: Curiosity needs privacy, audience treats art-devices more carefully than expected and out-of-order instances occur due to bad design, insuf cient testing and empty batteries.
Euro, Pia
Thesis advisor
Laakso, Harri
electronics, functioning, out-of-order, art-device, instrument