The ship of fools : puppetry in the age of materialism : an exegesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This Thesis looks at what a puppet is, how it has evolved and expanded to include a multitude of art practices and how the language of puppetry might be a powerful force for engaging us with current contemporary issues. The concept of human-machine entanglement will be analysed in relation to models of human-machine simulacra, especially in contemporary practice; relevant dynamics of the avant garde; and aspects of contemporary materialism. I have taken my fascination with puppetry into a specific direction. The concept of human-machine entanglement is explored through two major works that I have created: an installation using automata entitled The Ship of Fools and The Last Ship, a shadow art performance using overhead projectors. Both works use Plato's Ship of Fools allegory as a vessel for articulating a political and allegorical perspective on some of the pressing issues of our time. Puppetry can be used as an agent for exploring issues around human-machine entanglement through metaphysical and philosophical concepts and the impact of technology on the body and material world. I will discuss where this creative journey has taken me, what I have learnt about the power of performing objects and how I hope to use my findings in future creative endeavours.
Figure 16 re-used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).