Kate Mondloch – A Capsule Aesthetic: Feminist Materialisms in New Media Art


Univ. Of Minnesota Press, ISBN-13: 978-1517900496, English, 168 pages, 2018, USA

Non-human organic and inorganic entities have been so rapidly adopted in our everyday reality, that the negotiation of their pervasive role in shaping our bodies is still yet to be defined. In this book Kate Mondloch investigates “human-to-non-human” interfaces, through immersive media art installations realised by three contemporary art icons: Pipilotti Rist, Patricia Piccinini, and Mariko Mori. Their three respective approaches (the ubiquitously sensorial, the uneasy psycho-organic and the mentally glowing) are considered in relation to the “spectatorship”. The latter refers to the importance of how the works are experienced, or how the artists use space, scale, spectators’ bodies proximity and technologies, as an opportunity to practice material feminism. Mondloch then formulates a “critical-aesthetics potential” between these specific works of art and the audience, planned as “ongoing event[s]” with an “ever-changing” interface. The author starts contextualising historical feminist media art and theory from 1970s and 1980s, and proceeds dedicating a chapter to each artist. Her capsule aesthetics (originated from Mori’s work), is discussed through feminist theorists, from the famous Haraway and Braidotti to Barad, Grosz, Hekman, and plenty of others. Their different positions together with the different artworks, are here reconciled in a way that let us understand how our body is rethought, reconfigured, constantly forgotten and recurrently exploded and recollected in millions of tiny digital pieces.