A Digital Response to the Cultural Representation of Disability

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis forms the written component of a PhD by Completed Works by artist Simon McKeown. It reviews his digital art projects, Motion Disabled, Ghosts and Cork Ignite and the research and practice that underpinned their making. The first aim of this contextual document is to reflect on how McKeown’s impairments, educational training and industry experience (from fine art training to high-level experience in the computer games industry to his role in academia) have informed his methods. The thesis will explicate how this training equipped McKeown with the skill set to produce large-scale collaborative artworks in public. The second aim is to examine key developments in disability theory and how McKeown sites his practice in relation to these discourses. The third aim is to examine theoretical discourses surrounding participatory art practice and how these have informed McKeown’s projects. He presents published works as individual case studies, giving descriptions of the project, the role of his collaborators while analysing the strategies employed in their production, the critical context and their impact and dissemination. Finally, this contextual document will propose that McKeown’s complex projects make an original contribution to knowledge by his being the first person to use motion capture to create the first non-medical biomechanical art study, as well as to commemorate the disabled of WW1 for Channel Four; and by making a series of creative and technically high-end, multiplatform, interventionist and ultimately socially engaged art events that have directly affected the cultural representation and inclusion of disability in contemporary society.
Date of Award14 Jan 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorSimon Morris (Supervisor)

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