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Title: Second-Order Images: Reflexive Strategies in Early Latin American Video Art
Authors: Murphy, Benjamin
Advisors: Small, Irene V
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: Dictatorship
Latin America
Media Studies
Social Sciences
Subjects: Art history
Latin American studies
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation investigates the emergence of video as an artistic medium among a group of artists and institutions from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay during the 1970s. The project’s four chapters focus on how these diverse actors used video to adopt, engage, and critique the research methods of the social sciences, employing the novel recording technology to conduct surveys, ethnographic fieldwork, and other forms of social documentation and data collection. I place these experiments in dialogue with contemporaneous developments within Latin American sociology, anthropology, communication studies, and political science. In so doing, I interpret how video art intervened within key questions animating social analysis in Latin America during the period, namely the region’s economic dependency under U.S. hegemony, and the rise of new forms of authoritarianism and their relation to emergent systems of mass media. Through this focus, the dissertation enriches our understanding of the relationship between art and politics within the context of the South American dictatorships of the 1970s. Video, I argue, not only furnished artists with strategies for expressing and acting upon these political circumstances; it also served as a platform for reflexive questions about how politics could be represented, and about whether such representational practices might in turn perform political functions of their own. Early Latin American video art was thus aligned with a growing postwar movement across the social sciences toward a paradigm of second-order observation, a position from which those sciences began to take their own instruments, postulates, and histories as primary objects of their own analyses. Bringing this reflexivity to bear upon the concept of Latin America itself, the artists I study offered a critical view of how that geopolitical category was constructed by the sciences that purported to observe it. Furthermore, they suggested how the category could be reconfigured for purposes of political solidarity through subversive strategies of recording and broadcast. The dissertation thus de-naturalizes the concept of Latin American art as a given disciplinary subfield, focusing instead on how artistic practice served as a key arena within which the construct of Latin America was scrutinized and contested.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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