Alum Creates First Interactive PhD Thesis at RMIT

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Congratulations to ITP Alumnus, Dr Ernesto Ríos!

First Interactive PhD thesis received at RMIT


One of Australia’s first interactive PhD thesis has been received at RMIT’s School of Art.


Recently completing his thesis, Dr Ernesto Ríos, a Visual Artist from Mexico completed his PhD thesis in July on the topic of: Reconfiguring the labyrinth: an exploration of traditional forms of the labyrinth and the maze through contemporary art practices.


Dr Ríos is proud to be one of the first students in Australia and the first one at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology to have used the new I-pad technologies to have presented his PhD thesis. “I was interested in the new possibilities that interactivity open to us as creators and artists, that’s why I decide to do use a tool according to our times and user interactions”.


“Creating the new format was challenging, since is not something that to many people know how to do.  So I taught myself, how to create an interactive e-book, adding video and audio files, images and text, solving all the difficulties of this interactive format”.


Previously completing his Masters in Interactive Telecommunications at New York University, he says his interest in the use of new technologies in art was what inspired him to create the EPUB format (e-book, for electronic tablets) for people to read his interactive thesis. The RMIT doctorate has taken Ernesto four years to complete.


Originally the university was a little perplexed at his request to present the thesis in this format, but after convincing his tutor of the value of the new technology, the university staff have come to support the new-style thesis, he says.


“My exegesis can be read in PDF format, in EPUB format or on the RMIT webpage. Ideally I created it to viewed on a tablet or I-pad screen, wanting the reader to engage and interact with my work. It is a very traditional format however I would like the reader to feel absorbed in the exegesis and interact with it in a way that is innovative, dynamic and non-traditional.”


“My working in this medium enabled me to recreate a small aspect of the labyrinthine quality described in my exegesis through this new format.”


Technology has had a central role in his thesis works with his research resulting in innovative interpretations and generating new insights into labyrinthine forms. His thesis works’ includes video and audio archives, QR code technologies, 3D plastic modeling sculptures, interactive art installations – alongside more traditional mediums like visual paintings and photographic work.


“Today, an growing number of people are reading on these new platforms, so it seemed logical to make use of new tools and the advantages they bring when communicating a research paper like a thesis or for artistic experimentation.”


More information about Dr Ríos PhD research.


Through visual metaphors and innovative practice Dr Ríos, explored ways to reconsider the complexity of canonical images of the maze and labyrinth by incorporating new technologies with traditional media into a series of art installations. The research resulted in innovative interpretations, which generated new insights into labyrinthine forms.


Through visual metaphors and structural innovations I investigate the ancient and contemporary significance of the cultural configurations of the labyrinth and the maze in relation to personal notions and understandings of labyrinthine structures. I link my personal interpretations of the labyrinth with elements of the architectural city, the modern networked society and contemporary theories to enrich and expand the creative possibilities of this research.


This project reconsiders the complexity of the canonical images of the maze and the labyrinth by incorporating new media, in parallel with conventional media such as drawing, painting and photography, with the intention of generating new labyrinthine forms.


With reference to the metaphor of the labyrinth found in contemporary architectural and virtual forms, video games and electronic circuits, this research seeks to create multimedia artworks, 3D experiments, photographs, drawings and paintings utilizing a non-conventional fusion of techniques. This research incorporates new technologies with traditional media in order to create new affective forms of interaction between the spectator and the artwork, and investigates how the fusion and combination of different technologies with the incorporation of geometry, patterns and complex structures can generate new labyrinthine metaphors and readings.


Ernesto Ríos is available for interview from 1 of November on the mobile number: 0403 856 724 or via email at:


Dr. Ernesto Ríos would like to acknowledge the support of the International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) who contributed towards his completion of his doctoral studies.


Friday, October 31st, 2014
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