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Mediated messages: constructions of intimate communication through the use of digital technologies, and the extent to which such encounters can be conceptualised as one-to-one performance

Crouch, Jason James (2017) Mediated messages: constructions of intimate communication through the use of digital technologies, and the extent to which such encounters can be conceptualised as one-to-one performance. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

In the 21st Century a majority of the world’s population carry in their pockets devices that promise connection to others over distance. The instant connectivity offered by technologies of communication is somewhat of mixed blessing combining the allure of interaction and the threat of availability. Much of the advertising gloss for the technologies of communication – smartphones, video conferencing and social networks – relies on selling the idea of real human connection at a distance. This study sets out to explore the nature of mediated communications between individuals in the context of a perceived opposition that conceptualises technology as either distancing or enhancing what it is to be human. The research frames mediated interactions as one-to-one performance, an approach which encourages the unexpected and playful whist embracing vulnerability. In exploring the nature of the one-to-one performance scholars and audiences stress their experiences as personal, at times intense and certainly intimate. Here intimacy is engaged with as both a subconscious technological fluency as well as intrapersonal closeness, placing such interaction in the socio-cultural context of late capitalism. It is concluded that rather than technology enframing a commodified experience of the world, intimate interrelations are possible and inevitable. Chapter 1 serves as an introduction to the research question and contextualises the inquiry in regard to my own personal and professional background. Chapter 2 details relevant concepts, scholarship, performance practice and cultural context and serves to place the work in a lineage of other practice. Chapter 3 describes, documents and interrogates the research practice, including inspirations and experiments alongside the final works. Chapter 4 conceptualises the practice within a phenomenological framework, analysing contemporary communications technologies as part of an expanding perceptual toolset with which we co-shape our reality and placing technical infrastructure within a framework of late capitalism. The final chapter concludes the complimentary writing and clearly enumerates the findings.

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