Errant Bodies: Relational Aesthetics, Digital Communication, and the Autistic Analogy


  • Anne Pasek New York University, Department of Media, Culture, and Communication



relational aesthetics, autism, Eva and Franco Mattes, media studies, communication


This paper addresses growing anxieties over the past two decades within media studies and visual art concerning the negative effects of technological sociality. Noting the recurrent use of the language of cognitive impairments—particularly that of autism—in appraisals of mediated relational deficits, this paper investigates the parallel production of ability and disability within privileged models of relationality and its aesthetics. Rather than attempting to police or restore valorized forms and practices of interpersonal exchange, I call for a more inclusive approach to relationality predicated upon a disability studies approach. Looking specifically to the Second Life performance works of Eva and Franco Mattes, I argue that technologically-produced social impairments can be productively approached as sites of alternative and adaptive relationalities. 


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