Dr Leonie Cooper




Monash University, Australia


Dr Leonie Cooper is situated in the Theory program in the Faculty of Art and Design, Monash University. Her research investigates the history and aesthetics of the screen in an expanded field that has included film, theme park attractions, virtual worlds, mixed reality/augmented media environments and architectures. She’s particularly interested in  transmedial or intermedial relations and investigating appropriate methods to articulate their cultural contexts and material conditions. She has taught across the fields of cinema, television, photography, digital media cultures and multimedia design and theory and mentored students theory and arts based research. She’s spoken and written with figures such as astronauts, vampire slayers and in regard to virtual worlds, hybrid spatial environments, science fiction and prophetic media at international conferences and in publications. Her Phd thesis - From Viewing Stars to Building Worlds: The Astronaut and Contemporary Screen Media  - constituted the astronaut as a heuristic tool within an intermedial context to think through perceptual and epistemological tensions activated by transitions within screen technologies and media cultures.


When a World Disappears: Tracking the Trace in Mixed Reality Artwork


This paper takes the trace (a key theme of this conference) as a concept capable of travelling into the domain of ‘mixed reality’ artworks. The term, mixed reality, is used to refer to art where software is used to generate a participatory, persistent ‘world’, which is screened within an exhibition environment. The work can also be accessed online, and regenerated in other media forms and contexts, such as machinima on Youtube and screenshots embedded in blogs. I will take one work as a case study: Mellifera, created by Trish Adams and Andrew Burrell. The world of Mellifera has been generated using Second Life (www.secondlife.com) but it is not the turn to Second Life ‘artwork’ with which I’m concerned – as this focus often becomes entrapped in a process of validating Second Life as (or as not) an appropriate platform for art. Nor am I concerned with using this work to account for the impact of ‘the digital’ on analogue practices and to, thus, articulate the trace as bound (or not) to the image and its index. Instead, the trace as concept and Mellifera as object (both being co-constitutive of each other) are positioned in a productive encounter meant to mobilise thinking beyond these somewhat reductive situations. In the world of Mellifera the participants leave traces that are rendered in visible and material terms. The work, however, can also indicate how the concept of the trace might be made transversable, the activity of analysis traversing an intermedial field where critic-researchers must cross paths with participants – I (as researcher and participant) track the trace that I (once) generated. This process of tracking renders the trace as a residue that accrues through ongoing encounters with the work, even when the world within which such traces appeared has long since disappeared.


Tuesday 27 September


3:30pm - 5.00pm






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