The art of being a fan : complicity and criticality in contemporary art and fandom

McKewen, Daniel Luke (2013) The art of being a fan : complicity and criticality in contemporary art and fandom. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This practice-led research project aims to use contemporary art processes and concepts of fandom to construct a space for the critical and creative exploration of the relationship between them. Much of the discourse addressing the intersection of these spaces over the last three decades tends to treat art and fan studies as separate areas of critical and theoretical research. There has also been very little consideration of the critical interface that art practice and fandom share in their engagement with one another – or how the artist as fan might creatively exploit this relationship. Approaching these issues through a practice-led methodology that combines studio based explorations and traditional modes of research, the project aims to demonstrate how my 'fannish' engagements with popular culture can generate new responses to, and understandings of, the relationship between fandom, affect and visual art.

The research acts as a performative and creative investigation of fandom as I document the complicit tendencies that arise out of my affective relationship with pop cultural artefacts. It does this through appropriating and reconfiguring content from film, television and print media, to create digital video installations aimed at engendering new experiences and critical interpretations of screen culture. This approach promotes new possibilities for creative engagements with art and popular culture, and these are framed through the lens of what I term the digital-bricoleur.

The research will be primarily contextualised by examining other artists' practices as well as selected theoretical frameworks that traverse my investigative terrain. The key artists that are discussed include Douglas Gordon, Candice Brietz, Pierre Huyghe, Paul Pfieffer, and Jennifer and Kevin McCoy. The theoretical developments of the project are drawn from a pluralistic range of ideas ranging from Johanna Drucker's discussion of critical complicity in contemporary art, Matt Hills' discussion of subjectivity in fandom and academia, Nicolas Bourriaud's discussion of Postproduction art practices, and Jacques Rancière's ideas about aesthetics and politics. The methodology and artworks developed over the course of this project will also demonstrate how digital-bricolage leads to new understandings of the relationships between contemporary art and entertainment. The research aims to exploit these apparently contradictory positions to generate a productive site for rethinking the relationship between the creative and critical possibilities of art and fandom. The outcomes of the research consists of a body of artworks – 75% – that demonstrate new contributions to knowledge, and an exegetical component – 25% – that acts to reflect on, analyse and critically contextualise the practice-led findings.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 63778
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Webb, Mark & Pennings, Mark W.
Keywords: art, fandom, artists, fans, complicity, criticality, bricolage, postproduction, link-making, digital, video art, installation, creative practice, practice-led research, performative, popular culture, screen-based culture, politics, dissensus, affect, play, Drucker, Hills,Bourriaud, Rancière, Gordon,Breitz,Huyghe,Pfieffer,
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 28 Oct 2013 05:16
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2015 22:08

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