Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Media, Art, and Text

First Advisor

Nicholas Sharp


Abstract OLD WORLD, NEW MEDIA: CROSS-CULTURAL EXPLORATIONS WITH CAMERA AND ANALYTIC TEXT IN CUSCO, PERU By Scott DuPre Mills, PhD. A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University. Virginia Commonwealth University, 2014 Major Director: Dr. Nicholas A Sharp, Assistant Professor, Department of English This dissertation draws on my field research in Cusco, Peru, documenting Old World methods of making Andean musical instruments. The cross-cultural interactions I engaged in are concretized and documented in the ethnographic film I shot at the time and in my experimentation with original music recorded with these handmade instruments. I have revisited the family that produces these instruments each summer from 2003-2013 and built a relationship that has provided me with an in-depth perspective on the centuries-old tradition of making musical instruments. These instruments afford an exceptionally high quality sound and are created specifically for local professional musicians. My search for an authentic Andean charango occasioned complex association with local artisans, enabling me to perform various roles as a participant in this cross-cultural interaction, from musician and documentary filmmaker to teacher in the summer study program in Peru. Both the fact that VCU students and faculty expressed interest in buying these instruments, and our group expenditures in Peru, enhanced the instrument-making family economically, providing them with the means to expand their production of instruments. Each year after my return back to the United States, I studied closely the documentary footage I had recorded and found that the camera can function as a writing device. In order to explore further and understand conceptually my intuitions, I researched newer theories about camera consciousness and developed my own concepts that are articulated in this dissertation. In the process, I have drawn interdisciplinary connections between Ethnography, Media theory and Anthropological concepts as they relate to human activities in the area of media, art, text. A central theoretical argument in my dissertation underscores the fact that the new media have altered the definition of literacy. In exploring the elements of (traditional and digital) photography, moving image, audio and written text as they define the new intermediatic context, it became apparent that New Media requires an ability to “read” beyond the medium of the written word. This is relevant also for my study of traditional instrument-making in Peru. Because many of the “Old world” methods of creating instruments and music existed outside of a literary (verbal) account or explanation, these methods often became lost or forgotten as new modes of mass production took over. The type of multimedia approach that I am illustrating in this dissertation, mixing traditional with New Media methodologies, has the potential to reconnect us to “Old World” forms via the visual and audio elements that are not directly present in verbal texts. A significant portion of my dissertation explores the introduction and development of the New Media and the devices that connect human beings to the digital domain. My examination foregrounds both the positive and negative implications of the New Media. The inclusion of an anthropological perspective in this discussion provides a broader view of human behavior in relation to the development of communication technology and multimedia.


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VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2014