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Congratulations: Paula Maya Strunden and Sophia Rohwetter awarded for their theses

The Award for Scientific Works 2023/24 is awarded to Paula Maya Strunden for her dissertation (IKA). The Honorary Award goes to Sophia Rohwetter for her dissertation (MA in Critical Studies).

Paula Maya Strunden

„bodies, objects, spaces —  Exploring Multisensory Spatial Perception through Extended Reality Models”

Framed within critical, feminist, and new materialist perspectives, Paula Strunden's design-based research investigates the impact of Extended Reality (xR) technologies on multisensory spatial perceptions. Based on theories of 4E cognition (embodied, enacted, embedded, and extended) and interdisciplinary insights from human-computer interaction, cognitive science, and philosophy, the research develops the educational platform xR Atlas and three case studies termed Extended Reality Models (xRM).These experimental and experiential models—Rhetorical Bodies: An xR Dance Performance, Infra-thin Magick: An xR Ceremony, and Alison’s Room: An xR Archive—examine transformative cognitive effects through embodied experiences triggered by physical interaction with virtual bodies, objects, and spaces. Drawing on these case study experiences, this study proposes a fifth dimension, termed enveloped cognition, which sheds light on the underlying epistemological frameworks of xRMs and their dual potential as generative tools for creating new perspectives and investigating their operational apparatus. This spatiotemporal layer reveals the dynamic relationship between embodied perception and cognition through inhabiting hybrid spatial environments.

This study is conducted as part of the research network “TACK / Communities of Tacit Knowledge: Architecture and its Ways of Knowing”, under the primary supervision of Prof. dr. Angelika Schnell (Institute for Art and Architecture, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna) and the secondary supervision of Prof. dr. Lara Schrijver (Faculty of Design Sciences, University of Antwerp). This project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska- Curie grant agreement No 860413.

Paula Strunden, © Foto: Caendia Wijnbelt

Sophia Rohwetter
Tears of A Clown. The tragic and the comic in the work of Mike Kelley

The master’s thesis examines the forms of the tragic and the comic in the work of American artist Mike Kelley (1954–2012) from a psychoanalytic perspective, with particular consideration of the series Half a Man (1987–1991). The starting point of the thesis is the assumption that psychoanalysis and art, specifically the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan and Mike Kelley’s aesthetics of failure, share a common interest in questions concerning the tragicomic condition of human desire—its ambivalences, contradictions, and various precarious forms. The focus on Kelley’s tragicomic aesthetics and ethics of failure represents a fundamental engagement with Kelley’s artistic rhetoric, whose socio-economic, countercultural, sexual, and unconscious elements, along with the socially abject, pathetic, and formless, sought to evade (post-)modern strategies of sublimation. Addressing the dialectic of desublimating failure and sublime success, the master’s thesis argues that Kelley’s aesthetics of failure unfolds as a tragicomic drama about the fallible failure of artistic form and truth.

Sophia Rohwetter, © Photo: Marina Sula