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Student Showcase Archive

Nils Jean

PhD Work

PhD work

  • Screen capture of

    Screen capture of, Jodi 2000

  • Screen capture of

    Screen capture of, Jodi 1998

  • Screen capture of Once Upon

    Screen capture of Once Upon, Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied 2011

Digital Debris of Internet Art: an Allegorical and Entropic Resistance to the Epistemology of Search

My Ph.D. is a historicising and speculative exercise aiming at investigating the re-appropriation of discarded pieces of information in online art practice. In this thesis I am arguing that the digital debris of Internet Art represent an allegorical and entropic resistance to the knowledge embodied by the Epistemology of Search. Thus, the thesis reverses the Renaissance notion that ruins are a repository of knowledge and defends instead the assertion that digital debris are critical agents that intervene in the network paradigm created by and for the Internet. I am defending the position that digital debris are the projection of a cultural concept onto a technical reality which allows them to instill a dialogue between the computational and the cultural. Here, digital debris in their plural form, are understood as words typed in search engines and which then disappear; bits of obsolete code which are lingering on the Internet, abandoned web pages or pieces of ephemeral information circulating on the Web 2.0 and which are used as materials by practitioners. By Epistemology of Search I am referring to the work of David Joselit in After Art (2012) where the Art Historian described and theorised the ways in which, in contemporary culture, images hold value not in what they convey but in the patterns of dissemination they create once they enter into circulation.



  • Nils Jean
  • PhD


    School of Communication


    Visual Communication, 2011–2015

  • Nils’ writing constellates around expressions of the ephemeral and the use of information as a material. After Khâgne, the humanities preparatory course for the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Nils studied Fashion Design at Studio Berçot, Paris. After graduation, he developed his practice alongside creative directors in the industry and decided to combine his design skills with theory by gaining an M.A. in Visual Culture.  After gaining experience in the Communication department of the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A, Nils enrolled at the Royal College of Art to pursue his research. His thesis is concerned with the definition of digital debris (i.e. obsolete pieces of information) in Internet Art practices. Drawing on approaches ranging from experimental film to media theory, he is especially interested in questions of re-appropriation, language and artifice. 

  • Degrees

  • MA (Hons) Visual Culture, University of Westminster, 2010
  • Experience

  • Assistant to creative director, Robert Normand, 2007–08
  • Conferences

  • 'Digital Debris’ for Digital Unconscious Symposium at the White Building, 2013; ‘A Typology of New Media Art Renewals’ for Media Art Histories at RENEW The 5th International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology, 2013; ‘Digital Debris’ paper conference for Archaeological Media and Technological Debris at the University of London, 2013
  • Publications

  • Forthcoming: ‘Renewing HTML Frames and the Discontinuity of Reality’ for Acoustic Space 13 / MAH / Archiving ‘Renewable Futures’, November 2015.; ‘Digital Debris in Internet Art : A Resistance to The Epistemology of Search’ Ekphrasis Volume 10, February 2013.; 'Totes Haus Ur or the Dislocation of Intimate Space’, Mute Magazine, October 30th 2010.; ‘An Experiment on Phenomenology and Bio-mapping’, Mute Magazine, February 19th 2010.