Procedural Films: Algorithmic Affect in Research Media Art Practice

Anikina, Alexandra. 2020. Procedural Films: Algorithmic Affect in Research Media Art Practice. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis explores the political aesthetics of ‘procedural films’—media works that use generative algorithmic procedures and manifest as moving images. In contrast to long-held techno-positivist understandings of generative art, the thesis reframes procedural films as a critical media art practice aiming to understand the ‘procedure’ as an affective engine of moving image experience. It employs an interdisciplinary approach that borrows from materialist theories of media, experimental film, artificial life and computational culture, and draws on my practices as artist and curator. These processes of making, curating and experiencing serve as enacted research, as a scalable architecture of thinking through and thinking with the technical media. The thesis proposes a conceptual framework for exploring procedural films as techno-cultural artefacts, addressing the ‘apparatus’, the affective space-time of their viewing and their sociopolitical operation. It proposes that algorithmic autonomy brings an affective renegotiation of the traditional roles of the spectator and the moving image, instead seeing it as a complex entanglement of human and non-human agencies, computational temporalities and generative procedures. Furthermore, it addresses procedural mediation and automation as a part of the political aesthetics of media art, exploring the techno-capitalist commodification of attention, time and images. The thesis investigates two case studies—screensaver and game engine—as procedural apparatuses. It explores these media artefacts as sites of labour, design, affect and experience, addressing their techno-cultural construction, as well as their processes of liveness and emergence.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


procedural films, generative, media art, media theory, artistic research, algorithmic affect, agency, algorithmic superstructuring, screensaver, game engine, experimental film, posthuman, chronic film, non-player character

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


31 August 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

07 Jun 2021 10:15

Last Modified:

13 Sep 2022 10:15


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