The Relational Aesthetics of PowerPoint: Affective/Not Effective Communication

Assoc. Prof. Jamie O'Neil
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Nicolas Bourriaud defines relational aesthetics as "aesthetic theory consisting of judging artworks on the basis of the inter-human relations they represent, produce or prompt." This study examines PowerPoint's analogic communicational dynamics (i.e. the nonverbal, relational and contextual factors) and the authoritative tone invoked by using PowerPoint technology. This environment becomes the stage for critical PowerPoint artworks (interventions, tactical media) as a mode of resistance to groupthink.

Serious consideration of PowerPoint within the cannon of aesthetic theory may appear unorthodox until one considers the superabundance of PowerPoint presentations occurring in our age. Yet this growth of the PowerPoint medium has managed to override certain longstanding principles of visual communication, namely, the idea that technology should make one's message clearer and more concise. Generally speaking, the typical PowerPoint presentation does just the opposite, and hence all graphical and rhetorical PowerPoint "tips" exist subsidiary to an aesthetic PowerPoint "experience" on a higher level — the reconfirmation of a "powerful" personal identity via technology.

Felix Guattari's aesthetic paradigm, (which he called "an ethico-aesthetic paradigm") thus serves as the backdrop for this analysis of how PowerPoint effects (or affects) the relational communication inherent in a given message.

Keywords: Aesthetics, Rhetoric, Postmodernism, Interpersonal Communication, Relational Aesthetics, Relational Art, Corporate Culture, Organizational Culture, Graphic Design, Contemporary Art, Tactical Media
Stream: Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Relational Aesthetics of PowerPoint, The

Assoc. Prof. Jamie O'Neil

Assistant Professor, Digital Media Arts, Communication Studies Department, Canisius College

Ref: T05P0208