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Translations and refractions: An exploration of making art by hand and computer

, University of Toronto , Canada

University of Toronto . Awarded


The computerization of everyday living and working practices enables all of us to move through physical and virtual worlds more easily. However, for some individuals such as visual artists, computerization is also provoking some anxiety and discomfort. As artists increasingly integrate digital procedures into their art making processes, they are confronted with the need to transform older practices, often working through challenging phases of translation. This study examines the ways in which six particular artists whose practices are based primarily on hand making methods are exchanging and in some instances replacing, hands-on engagement using traditional materials with digital manipulation programs using a computer mouse. Three key themes focusing on researching the electronic library, computerized image production and the physicality of art making are extracted from the artists' interviews. These themes in conjunction with theoretical discourses addressing issues of space and place, cyborgology and art education, illuminate the terms of resistance, incorporation and innovation that characterize the interchanges between hand and computer procedures for producing images.

Significant findings of this study include the emergence of a different kind of haptical space created by the physical experience of image multiplicity and the glow of the computer screen. Additionally, a kinship between the artists and their computers identified as a new kind of “coupling” defines the alliances created when working within the cyborg realm. These alliances lead to double vision, a combination of artistic and machinic perspectives of image production. As technological contexts shift, hybrid-cyborg art makers require a new vernacular to describe their terms of integration and translation when working concurrently by hand and computer. Among the implications of this study then is the development of an innovative vocabulary to describe hybrid couplings; and the identification of important opportunities for artists and art educators to experience a fresh range of potentialities and pedagogies in the cyborg realm.


Bowen, T. Translations and refractions: An exploration of making art by hand and computer. Ph.D. thesis, University of Toronto. Retrieved August 2, 2021 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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