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    On intelligence tests: psychological objects and their subjects

    Bergstrom-Katz, Alexandra (2023) On intelligence tests: psychological objects and their subjects. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    On Intelligence Tests employs multi-disciplinary tools and artistic research methods to critically examine the aesthetic, material, and affective power of historical intelligence test kits. Intelligence tests were developed in the United States to assess both children and adults in settings including classrooms, courtrooms, and immigration centres, and were crucial to the construction of American psychology as a field. The tests have been robustly critiqued by educators, legal scholars, activists, social scientists, and historians due to their implicit biases, social harms, and their direct ties to eugenics. However, there has yet to be a psychosocial investigation into the test kits themselves to see what the tests, as material objects, communicate, carry, and embody. The kits, packed in briefcases, boxes and bags, consist of a bricolage of materials including puzzles, blocks, image booklets, and manuals, which include instructions for use and questions to be read aloud. Given their material qualities, On Intelligence Tests picks the tests up and looks at them from a variety of interconnected vantage points. It first understands the kits as travelling archives of their own histories, which collapse physical objects and psychological concepts. The project then examines the design of test kits to understand how they were fabricated to communicate psychology’s scientific proficiencies. Understanding the tests as affective containers for memories and associations, the project also creatively investigates the tests’ connections to childhood, education, and feelings of self-worth. Finally, On Intelligence Tests posits that the boxes contain ‘readymade’ performances, wherein the scripts and props are neatly at hand, ready to be put-to-use to produce both psychological examiners and psychological subjects. On Intelligence Tests is insistently multi-disciplinary, drawing my own artistic experiments in installation, photography, video, and performance, and bringing these artworks into conversation with theorists and practitioners working across art, psychoanalysis, phenomenology, the history of science, structuralism, and post-structuralism.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2023 16:05
    Last Modified: 27 Nov 2023 19:24


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