Toronto Metropolitan University
18e2ca4a998cb9d5655714fa917b4ebe.pdf (4.57 MB)

Brutal Aesthetics and the Visual Economy of Digital Black Death

Download (4.57 MB)
posted on 2024-06-16, 21:24 authored by Nataleah Hunter-Young

"Brutal Aesthetics and the Visual Economy of Digital Black Death" considers the social and cultural impacts of social media videos documenting anti-Black police brutality through the discursive interpretations of three Black visuals artists in Canada, the U.S., and South Africa. The interviewed artists--Anique Jordan, Cameron Granger, and Sethembile Msezane--are positioned within the study as both creative practitioners and theorists of visual communication. Our discussions act as entry points to analyze how this violent imagery has come to be installed in the everyday, accelerating a globalizing naturalization of anti-Black state violence. Guided by the work of Caribbean theorist Sylvia Wynter, this dissertation considers what each artist's creative text does rather than what it can be interpreted to mean, a method for identifying how these artworks act visually on the audience-spectator already attuned to the mundane violence of white supremacy. This SSHRC CGS and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation funded research project extends the work of critical aesthetic theory to read the ways the accelerated naturalization of anti-Black state violence via state-corporate digital media surveillance works on popular perception to make Black death make sense. In evaluation of the imagery's visual and political economies, this project identifies what we can learn by studying the aesthetics of everyday life and what artists can teach us about how to look differently.





  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Dissertation

Thesis Advisor

May Friedman & Christina Sharpe