The Dialectics of a Machine
The Dialectics of a Machine is a four-channel video piece that explores the potential of fiction to question our social expectations, including their systems, functions, and worth. The video documents speech therapy sessions with people with varying speech barriers, from someone who’d had a recent throat surgery to someone speaking English as a second language. The issues each person is trying to correct are not clearly identified in the video. They go through individually designed speech and bodily exercises with a professional speech pathologist to reduce their impediments. When the speech pathologist introduces a fictional machine that could correct their speech problems, the patients’ honest responses to the correction device reveal their personal stories, including self-perceived identity and power. The video leads the audience to shift their attention from the patients’ problems to the system (therapist and the machine) that encourages them to acknowledge their speech impediments as problems. Additionally, the video exposes the strong tie between each patient’s speech and their life on various levels. Chapter One provides an introduction to the relationship between art and reality in history of art. Chapter Two expands on art based in reality, particularly through the effectiveness of storytelling in traumatic and political art with fact and fiction-based approaches in the construction of narrative and for the authentic experience of the audience. This chapter looks at works by Abbas Kiarostami, Omer Fast, and Walid Raad in depth to study the artistic methodologies used by them. Chapter Three discusses the thematic research of the dissertation, the methodology adopted from the short introduction moving image to Andrei Tarkovsky’s movie The Mirror, and looks at two art experiments and various processes taken to arrive at the dissertation piece. Finally, the dissertation concludes with the future directions for the project and reflections on the body of work as a whole.