The Figure of Speech: The Politics of Contemporary Chatter

Ash, Jesse. 2010. The Figure of Speech: The Politics of Contemporary Chatter. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

ART_thesis_Ash_2011.pdf - Submitted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (6MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This thesis focuses on informal linguistic transactions that operate in relation to, and as part of spectacle in contemporary society. In contrast to presenting such transactions as a subordinated public, exchanging meaningless chatter, these communicative acts are seen to be a formalization of language revealing processes, networks, and territories that have positive possibilities for the public engaged in these communications. Using examples such as the act of communication evident in the recent exponential growth of web 2.0 (on-line social networking), the sound of language represented in the murmur of political demonstrations, and the audibility of voices on the underground network, this thesis builds upon and extends discussions that have asserted the political resistance inherent in rumour, gossip, idle talk, and hearsay. This specific analysis focuses upon both our physical, corporeal, and virtual relations to chatter within the developing systems of new technology that transfer the majority of today’s informal exchanges—investigating the sounds, repetitions, occupation of networks, and gestures of communication rather than the exchange of specific content. Using a methodology that acknowledges the ephemeral, transgressive and fluid nature of its subject, this project uses regular first person narrated sections supporting theoretical discussion, refuses the ‘permanence’ of visual illustration, and is directly informed by concerns within my art practice.

Responding to the ideas inherent to my art practice—concerning the form and presentation of information presented (by the media and political authorities) to the public from which a political cognition is constructed, both text and practice elements of this project focus on an abstract, formal reading of contemporary communication. These abstract experiences of communication and collective action are acknowledged as an integral reading of contemporary politics, and that this sphere should be activated, extended and expanded upon in order to discover the positive possibilities inherent within it.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



19 May 2010

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

11 Jun 2010 10:26

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 10:32


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)