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This research proposes a theory of kitsch in contemporary, media culture. I analyze the origins of kitsch and suggest that they stretch back to certain natural, biological processes. I examine kitsch as a process of mediation in which life itself is a medium, a ‘vital process’. The research makes a case for a shift from thinking of kitsch as a technological phenomenon extending from the industrial revolution, to one that is considered preternatural, existing as a state of being or a process of becoming. Under this hypothesis there are three distinctions in kitsch:NATURAL KITSCH (biological)KITSCH (industrial)POST-NATURAL KITSCH (post-biological)In this theory, kitsch is treated as a verb: to kitsch someone or something, to be in state of kitsch.  Being in a state of kitsch implies a being in-between, a mixed state where being is always a process of becoming. In other words, this research suggests shifting the question of what kitsch is to what kitsch does. Furthermore, in considering kitsch a ‘mixed, impure, hybrid’ state, I argue that it has more to do with contemporary, posthuman subjectivity than its original, industrial origin. This re-theorization co-opts the pejorative connotations of ‘bad’, ‘trash’, and ‘imitation’ into positive processes and useful metaphors for contemporary subjectivity, particularly for female, feminist subjectivity. Objects that I consider include: parasites, viruses, bodybuilding, bower birds and bioplastics. In considering this theory as it relates to contemporary visual culture, I propose that kitsch produces “special affects” and introduce the terms “glow”, “trance” and “aesthetic estrangement” to the emerging field of Posthuman Feminist Aesthetics.

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Kris Casey 2199
Scientific production

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