Reconstruction Theory, Designing the Space of Possibility in Complex Media

Cham, Karen (2007). Reconstruction Theory, Designing the Space of Possibility in Complex Media. International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, 3(2-3) pp. 253–267.



Structuralism, post-structuralism and semiotics underpin core teaching methodologies in art, design, media and cultural studies and crucially, provide common ground for the analysis and design of divergent cultural artefacts from literature, the visual and performing arts and the media. However, there are as yet, no established paradigms stemming from this methodological approach to allow the reflexive practitioner to address the nature of digital interactivity; neither in virtual reality through a graphical user interface, nor in the augmented reality and embodied interfaces of interactive art installations and participatory performances. In artistic compositions, the design of open structural relations rather than closed objects finds its roots in the participatory performance and installations of systems art, yet the dynamic capacity of digitally interactive systems in use, places digital interactivity well within the realm of complex systems science. A digital interface may, for example, allow multiple 'authors' and multiple 'readers' to participate in a simultaneous and instantaneous reproduction and dissemination of their divergent interpretations of an artefact as part of a networked participatory process; such a process demonstrates self-organisation and emergent behaviours, which are key attributes of complex systems. This paper proposes a 'reconstruction theory' as a design methodology for the 'space of possibility' in such 'complex media' in order to underpin critical practice in digital media arts. Such a proposal would also provide the foundations of a much sought after theoretical continuum from established art, design and media theory to the divergent manifestations of digital culture by establishing the common relations between structuralism, systems theory and systems art, to post-structuralism, complex systems science and the digitally interactive arts.

Viewing alternatives


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions
No digital document available to download for this item

Item Actions