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This chapter departs from a critical examination of my personal experience of working towards a ‘mixed-mode’ PhD in Electronic Arts. In particular, it looks at the relationships between the written dimension of my thesis and the making, exhibition and audio-visual documentation of UNCAGED, a series of six interactive installations exploring interrelationships and transitions between screen-based digital environments and their physical surroundings. An outline of the motivation and theoretical framework behind UNCAGED is followed by an account of its creation process and a reflection on the extent to which theory and practice might have informed each other. Based on a study of audience behaviour with UNCAGED at a major London museum, it is claimed that the work’s popularity seems to relate to its perceptually intriguing fusion between the virtual domain and the physical world. However, this apparent ‘success’ is subsequently undermined by a critical evaluation of UNCAGED – largely informed by Jean Baudrillard’s conception of the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’ – which raises questions about the very idea of integrating digital technology in our lives in a meaningful way. This problematic is further explored in the final section of the chapter, which considers issues arising from the combination of physical and digital outputs used for the formal delivery of my PhD project and provides some suggestions for improvement of the Mixed-Mode Thesis.
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