April 3rd, 2013 § § permalink
This Saturday, W. Lockett and I will be attempting a live mediated performance of a google doc cursor dance, The Ecstatics of a Google Drive (pre)Cursor. Come check it out! It’s at the Challenges & Futures of Communication Conference. My other friends D. Madden & O. Chapman will be DJing & it’s free.
6 April 2013 » 17h-20h
Concordia University, 1515 St. Catherine W.
EV Building, 11th FL.
The central tenant of post-industrial capitalism is a futurity based on data. Bits travel through the trivial deliberative agency of the individual on their way to a manifestation of a prognosticated situation. Many events are then odd repetitions of something that existed in the first place as an information-rich model of a future state of affairs. From the scale of financial capitalism’s systemization of material flows down to the dailyness of the creative worker, information preceded the existence of its object. The grant, design brief, and various other forms of “pitch” act as precursors that gather together hints of the yet to come, condensing potentials for creation through the assemblage of information.
This performance enacts the creation of a text, presents the existence of an object that it suggests into being, and uses collective digitizations of linguistic thought as a means of gathering together the potentials that inform creation. The performers collaborate in the creation of a document from a remote location using Google Drive, and the real-time writing process is projected into the gallery space. Their cursors dance on the screen and the text is written and revised while the producers communicate information about the quality of the text in formation and commune over the felt experience of the act of creation as it is situated and gains significance in process.
Though each cursor relates to its companion and to the text that is created, the subject of their dialogic invention is the future existence of the very piece being shown in the gallery space. The work precedes itself, and these (pre)cursors lock themselves into the performance of a situation that never quite catches up with itself. The performance ensures its existence only by inventing the stage for its next iteration. Rather than defining performance as an ephemeral occurrence, or as an event that produces its own archive in the act of being performed, Ecstatics of a Google Drive (Pre)cursor places the performance in a present defined by its persistent encroachment upon potentiality. This enactive rethinking of performance positions the artist as a creative worker exploiting the future-oriented framework of a careerist art world in order to determine the stable set of information sources that can be used to define the contours of possible events yet to come. The present of performance remains but exists only as the (pre)cursor informing its horizons. The relationality of two Google Drive cursors is enacted as an ecstatic excitation of a future event that emerges through the movements of gathering, assembling, searching, inscription, and communication enacted by the two performers.
The performers will identify a future event that will be suitable for the next iteration of Ecstatics of a Google Drive (Pre)cursor. The performance for Challenges and Futures of Communication will consist in the creation—on Google Drive, and in collaboration between the two performers—of the proposal for this future event. The research and writing process that enters into the creation of the proposal for the future iteration of the performance will be broadcast over the internet and projected into the gallery space using a live video stream. The performance will also be recorded using real-time, moving image screen capture software. The recording of the performance will be installed for the duration of the show along side a computer monitor displaying the inbox of an email client that awaits the coming news of the performance’s self-manifesting reiteration. In the context of Challenges and Futures of Communication, Ecstatics of a Google Drive (Pre)cursor will act as a research-creation piece questioning the contemporary status of “the future” as a facet of communication’s temporal orientedness and investigating the role of human subjects in the use of digital technologies that shift the means by which pre- individual fields of potential are manifest through performance.
January 13th, 2013 § § permalink
Standing with Art Giants, 2009, digital print, 30” x 22,5”
So many things happening. I missed the vernissage for the Red On The Walls exhibition in November 2012 because I ended up at the hospital & didn’t get to see my work hanging up in the Segal Centre among wine glasses & cheese in people’s mouths. This upcoming semester, I am presenting at a sound symposium at Concordia, the FSAC (Film Studies Association of Canada) Graduate Conference (again!) & presenting a demo of my documentary, microfemininewarfare at the HASTAC Conference in April (which means I gotta get that shit together!). In the meantime, I am also going down to NYC to document Mileece at MoMA next month! Gotta keep it local to save that grant money…
Sound and Dissent Symposium on Friday, February 1
Title: The nocturnal sounds of 2012 Quebec Student Strike: experiencing protest as a plurality of resistances
Abstract: The night marches of the 2012 Quebec Student Strike are a crucial feature of the movement’s sonic legacy. In particular, I refer to my own first hand experiences during the night protests in order to develop a means of articulating the plurality of resistances at play. By drawing upon Whitehead’s terms occurrence and event I contrast two different ways of thinking of resistance. If we think of resistance in the plural —as resistance already applying to an arrangement of related occurrences rather than as a dichotomy between a resistance (i.e., the student movement) and an establishment— then we move towards ways of thinking the sounds of protest in their reshaping of the city as event. This paper argues that the city as event is a site of multiple resistances that take place through sets of occurrences that emerge iteratively. These occurrences include the sounds of protest; forms of sonic crowd dispersal; unwilling listeners such as denizens and tourists; as well as sounds absorbed by architecture and animal life. By pluralizing the resistances at play, I build upon recent scholarship on the positive affects of the casseroles and develop an account of how these nocturnal sounds rearrange the city as event.
Whitehead, Alfred. Adventures in Ideas. New York: Macmillan, 1933.
Film Studies Association of Canada Graduate Colloquium: Transitions and Translations: New Approaches to the Moving Image
Hosted by Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University
Montréal, Québec, March 1-2, 2013
Paper title: Creating Space(s): Reading interactive documentary as an experimental feminist practice
Abstract: Interactive cinema consists of moving images on a screen, which must be temporally and spatially manipulated by the viewer. As widely known, narratives unfold across both time and space; in an interactive film, the audience has the ability to control this unfolding in time and space. This paper will present the saliency of using new filmmaking methods to highlight the need for innovative modes of presenting women’s narratives. Specifically, the genre of interactive documentary, and its capacity for new types of feminist story-telling will be explored. Drawing on various K-films, including my own K-documentary on female electronic music artists, I unpack the potentials of database-driven documentaries. K-films are interactive, non-linear films driven by a database of source material and editorial constraints (that establish the relationships between source scenes) put forward by the filmmaker. They are produced using the Canadian-German co-developed open source software Korsakow.
My paper situates the practices of interactive documentary filmmaking within feminist experimental film practices, a mode of production that challenges masculinist avant-garde aesthetic dogmas “by juxtaposing narrativity and non-narrativity, deploying narrative pleasure alongside narrative disruption, providing viewers with identification as well as critical distance” (Petrolle and Wexman, 2005: 3).
The development of new cinematic technologies, such as the K-film, have the potential to provide (new) spaces of articulation aligned with the feminist ethos of partial, fragmented perspectives (Haraway, 1991). Experimental feminist filmmakers are often united “in their intensive use of associative and disjunctive rather then linear editing” (Blaetz, 2007: 13). As such, I read interactive documentary as an intervention that re-articulates much of the theorization of feminist experimental film practices such as those of Trinh T. Minh-ha and Midi Onodera.
I argue that allowing these technologies, such as Korsakow software, to “do their thing” makes everyone (user, creator, etc.) complicit in the fragmentation of women’s stories. In turn, an iterative self-reflexive process of looking is foregrounded. My use of the interactive medium format does not stem from a reductive utopian vision that new technologies can break down traditional modes of communication but from an exploration in broadening discourses about female subjectivity. The interactive medium can be a fruitful mode of storytelling when it acknowledges, through content and/or style, the discursive ideologies that obfuscate embedded forms of power and oppression.
Further, this type of film form is more about story-revealing than storytelling and allows the non-linear unfolding nature of documentation to be apparent. Through interacting with the documentary, the user/spectator is effectively creating a narrative based on the component parts and consequently is also a producer in the re-creation of the content. This type of collaborative, yet complicit staging is indicative of the feminist practices I outline.
Keywords: interactive cinema, experimental documentary, feminist film-making, K-films
Blaetz, Robin. 2007. Women’s experimental cinema: critical frameworks. Durham: Duke University Press.
Haraway, Donna Jeanne. 1991. Simians, cyborgs, and women: the reinvention of nature. New York: Routledge.
Le Grice, Malcolm. 2001. Experimental cinema in the digital age. London: BFI Pub.
Minh-Ha, Trinh T. 1990. “Documentary Is/Not a Name.” October 52 (Spring): 77-98.
Petrolle, Jean, and Virginia Wright Wexman. 2005. Women and experimental filmmaking. Urbana: University of Illinois.
Ryan, Marie-Laure. 2009. “From Narrative Games to Playable Stories: Toward a Poetics of Interactive Narrative.” StoryWorlds: A Journal of Narrative Studies 1(1): 43-59.
April 25-28, 2013 York University, Toronto, Canada
microfemininewarfare (2013) is an interactive database documentary that investigates female electronic dance music (EDM) artists. The purpose of the documentary is to feature the contributions of women as composers, to show how they came to be composers and to reveal the tactics used to approach significant issues of gender in the EDM community. The documentary profiles the contributions of Alicia Bauer (performing as Alley Cat), Chantal Passamonte (Mira Calix), Christine Clements (Vaccine), Indra Khera (Mantra), Libby Floyd (The Doubtful Guest), Mileece Petre (Mileece), Sabina Plamenova (Subeena/Alis) and Bérangère Maximin. The interactive K-film documentary, comprising over thirty parts that tell a collective story, shows some of the tactics these women use to approach significant issues around gender. In presenting a group of subjects, I displace the dominant reading of EDM as a phallocentric practice of individual DJ-virtuosity and talent that is observed by researchers such as Essl (2003), Friz (2004), Farrugia (2010) and Kirn (2011). I acknowledge the women’s multi-faceted contributions and practices in the community by asking them what tools they are using, how they learned the techniques they employ, where their tools are located (such as the home, the studio or someone else’s house) and what they like or dislike about the technologies they use (Rodgers 2010: 8).
K-films are interactive, non-linear films driven by a database of source material and editorial constraints (that establish the relationships between source scenes) put forward by the filmmaker. They are produced using the open source flash-based software known as Korsakow. microfemininewarfare has dozens of clips but the order in which the user plays them is relatively free within a thematic spider web. The user can either move through these clips thematically or, interchangeably, move through clips of a single artist. As there is no linear “play” function, the user participates by clicking through the vignettes; otherwise, the documentary will not continue. Allowing the Korsakow software to “do its thing” makes everyone (user, creator, etc.) complicit in the fragmentation of the women’s stories—a key component aligned with my feminist ethics. The interactive medium can be a fruitful mode of storytelling when it acknowledges, through content and/or style, the discursive ideologies that obfuscate embedded forms of power and oppression (often the same ones the women in the documentary face). As such, presenting this documentary is aligned with HASTAC’s enthusiasm for new storytelling technologies and their potential for feminist narratives.
November 8th, 2012 § § permalink
Earlier this spring I was heavily involved, both academically and in the streets, in the Quebec-wide student strike. Several of us at the Mobile Media Lab at Concordia decided to put out a special “open” issue of wi: journal of mobile media. This resulted in two issues, which I co-edited with Owen Chapman, Alison Reiko Loader, Ben Spencer and Kim Sawchuk.
Click on the image to move through the issues. I also have an anonymous story of my arrest, a photo essay of the casseroles in St-Henri (my hood) and some prose (on being on the street & tear gassed repeatedly & having my bike broken) included.
To celebrate the strike ending, these two issues & a special issue of Theory & Event — Printemps Érable – Quebec’s Maple Spring of 2012— Volume 15, Issue 3 Supplement – Fall 2012, edited by Darin Barney, Brian Massumi, and Cayley Sorochan, we threw a party at Alexandraplatz & I made a short video with Safia Siad of the party.
Celebrating the Red Square from wi journal on Vimeo.
I wrote a bit about the strike: 14 March 2012, 27 March 2012, 13 Aug 2012.
September 19th, 2012 § § permalink
Hihi. I am presenting at the Association of Internet Researchers Conference 13 next month in Manchester.
The abstract I submitted is below. I have plenty of things to re-write because of the constant changes to Instagram, particularly since Facebook bought it. A sidenote: I am an active user of Instagram, and I have been a believer of its potential since it started. I think making flippant comments about Instagram being all about “posting dinner or cats” is the same type of reductionist thinking about Twitter. The exciting part is the complexities and discursive ways we operate in these networks. To dismiss them so easily, is to dismiss their potential (which can go beyond the capitalist framework they are situated within). Although I have to admit, I am having a perplexing time participating in a mediated network owned by Facebook, a social media platform that I cannot stand, and do not believe in its potential at all. Particularly because I have personal issues with it. Maybe that will happen with Instagram at some point too, but for now my research stands.
Instagram’s spaces of flow
Concordia University, Canada
The proliferation of broadband Internet and digital cameras has made photo sharing a popular activity, particularly as tool of communication (Crow et al. 2010), however, as Sarvas and Vihavainen argue: the “camera phone has changed the role of the camera: the camera phone is always carried with, it has an inherent network access, and access to contextual and social information” (1). By mid-2011, over 30% of mobile phone users in North America shared photos through their mobile phone online (Rainie and Wellman 183).
Utilizing these features, Instagram , a distinctive free mobile social network (MSN) (de Souza and Frith 289), centered on personal user-uploaded photographic content, has rapidly formed its own heterogeneous mobile community out of a larger mobile ‘public.’ Like other online social communities comprised of networked individuals, Instagram’s simple user interface (UI) allows users to build their own communities within its ‘public’ sphere and cultivate their own identity markers, rules and etiquette.
Unlike other social networking sites focused on visual content, no re-blogging/posting or saving photos is permitted or done in a facile way: two main features of other visually-based social networks, such as Flickr and Tumblr. I argue this creates a community focused on ‘making,’ and promotes the ‘banal everyday’ – the most often accessible subject matter to the average mobile user – as an aesthetic engagement and (re) negotiation. In addition, some users also share pictures with each other and “collab,” meaning one user will take a photo and send it to another user for editing, specifically, on their mobile phone.
Specifically, I identify six characteristics that shape the identity and users of this mobile photography community: 1) ephemeral ‘flash mobs’ through hashtag use; 2) formation and up-keep of micro-communities through the hashtag; 3) aesthetic trends through both —various ‘lens filter’ use, and different photo application use, and their influence on production and consumption within the application; 4) creation of a new identity, ‘the mobile photographer/artist’; 5) the creation of hybrid spaces (de Souza e Silva 19) through instameets ( Instagram user meet-ups to take photos together in physical space to post online) that are mediated through unofficial city Instagram accounts made by users, informal photo walks and brick-and-mortar exhibitions; 6) and, its current marketing and advertising-free environment.
Drawing upon Rainie and Wellman’s (2012) work on the triple revolution (the rise of the Internet, the advent of mobile phones, and the attention to social networks), and Castell’s (2000) theories of networked societies, I argue that this visually-centered mobile technology allows users to traverse through hybrid spaces, sets up relationships between places and people, and in turn, heightens our relationship not only to our own environment but the environment of others as mediated through the community. A common sentiment among Instagram users is the importance of being able to view other parts of the world through the eyes of others, and, respectively, present their own environmental explorations to their followers. This is one example of the community’s aesthetic practices being rooted in the production of space. Indeed, I ask, thinking with Bourdieu (1996), that theoretically and with use of appropriate technology, everything may be photographed, yet isn’t, and so what sorts of visual ideologies does Instagram promote? Cameras and images function “within particular social contexts and moments, which also define their significance” (Harrison 37), and indeed Instagram’s context is inextricably linked to the consumption of Apple products. Despite its unique characteristics I outlined above, I question whether Instagram still follows a hegemonic framework of inclusion and exclusion. As much as it builds community – it has grown from 1 million accounts in 2011 to 15 million in 2012 – and is free of advertising, the application is not without its exclusivity, and is currently a propriety-branded platform for Apple’s iPhone and iPad products, a problematic facet of many contemporary mobile social networks.
Bourdieu, Pierre. Photography: A Middle-Brow Art. Reissue. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996.
Castells, Manuel. The rise of the network society. Oxford: Blackwell, 2000.
Crow, Barbara, Michael Longford, and Kim Sawchuk. The wireless spectrum: the politics, practices, and poetics of mobile media. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010.
de Souza e Silva, Adriana and Frith, Jason. “Locative Mobile Social Networks: Mapping Communication and Location in Urban Spaces.” Mobilities , 5 (4), 485–505.
Harrison, Barbara. “Snap Happy: Toward a Sociology of ‘Everyday’ Photography” Studies in Qualitative Methodology 7 (2004): 23-39.
Rainie, Lee and Wellman, Barry. Networked: The New Social Operating System. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012.
Sarvas, Risto and Vihavainen, Sami. “A Holistic View on Future Snapshot Media.” Pervasive Image Capture and Sharing Workshop (PICS2006) at UbiComp 2006: 1-3.
September 7th, 2012 § § permalink
I have come across many writings recently that label Haraway as a standpoint feminist.
As much as Haraway discusses standpoint feminism (in the 80s), she presents it as one option that has materialized to interrogate the ideological phallocentric structures of society. Her “situated knowledges” cannot be conflated with “standpoint” because standpoint feminism is about a stable position of where to speak about oppressions from. Situated knowledges acknowledges the partial, messy, fluid perspectives we have that are constantly becoming.
“Marxist starting points offered tools to get to our versions of standpoint theories, insistent embodiment without disempowering positivisms and relativisms, and nuanced theories of mediation” (Haraway 1991: 186).
But she goes beyond standpoint to stress partial identities & the notion of diffraction as a way to bridge an impasse in feminist thought between standpoint theory and constructivist feminism.
Through a partial viewpoint we can then be mindful of current epistemological narratives and the relationship between subject and object that isn’t static and one-way. We must also have a commitment to truth that is partial, messy, accountable and interacts with us, rather than a singular capital T Truth.
Haraway asserts, “We’ don’t want a theory of the innocent powers to represent the world” (1991: 187). She is referring to the kind of traditional standpoint feminism that is taken up at her time, which says that women are better equipped and understand the world better than men because they are the ones oppressed (and the more oppressed you are the less you can be interrogated & the more you ‘get’ Truth, which totally dismisses the notion of ‘false consciousness’ & ‘bad faith’ many of us inhabit).
The way to create a feminist objectivity cannot be through ‘women’s experience’ as a singular analytical location. Haraway wants an epistemology of location, positioning and situating (1991: 186) The only way more truthful accounts of knowledge of the world can emerge is when seeing is always thought of in this way – located, active and specific. Knowing, seeing, witnessing, attesting, speaking that always come from a particular body located in a particular time and space, both literally and relationally.
Haraway stresses that diffraction is a metaphor for the effort to make a difference in the world that will produce “effects of connection, of embodiment, and of responsibility for an imagined elsewhere” (1992: 295). Diffraction patterns record the history of interaction, interference, reinforcement and difference. Diffraction is about heterogeneous not homogenous history. In short, standpoint produces a homogenous history from the standpoint of (specific) women, and reinforces the very gender dualism that constitutes the male perspective they oppose.
Oh & also: “Single vision produces worse illusions than double vision or many-headed monsters” (1991: 154).
From: Haraway, Donna. “The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others” 1992: 295–337.
Haraway, Donna. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991.
August 31st, 2012 § § permalink
There’s so many words between me and the computer, between me and my notebooks, between me and my professors, and so there are no more words that can be expelled here (except of course the ones I am writing, but can we not get metaphysical please, one moment… one moment is all I ask!)
Ok, maybe I have a few totally jumbled up things to say about stuff, like how Rosi Braidotti’s chapter “The Ethics of Becoming Imperceptible” in Deleuze and Philosophy, is one of the most lucid and intrepid articles about becoming I have read in a long time. As a way to better understand the work I came up with some alternate titles: “The Ethics of Wanting to Die”; “The Ethics of Wanting to have control over your death”; “The Ethics of Wanting to Die but not Dying”; maybe “The Ethics of wanting to always be Happy”; “The ethics of assertion of the joyfulness and positivity of life through Suicide” or simply “The Ethics of Being”, since the chapter tries to ontologically reframe how we think about our selves, and as Beings. Simply, our consciousness constitutes of being born, being alive, then being dead. That’s the nature of our Being – our ontology. (By the by, I’m allowed to be crude, I’m an obnoxious doctoral student.)
How can process philosophers and thinkers of relations and translation manage the telos of death while their philosophy is about becoming? on a continuum? a series of interconnected relations processually moving in and out of everything in the world in spacetime? She argues death isn’t an end, or another part of our infinite existence (like some religions demarcate). First, Braidotti points out that to die is in our nature, so of course we are curious about it and have a propensity to propel ourselves towards it. Often we propel ourselves to push the boundaries of being alive (often through drugs, etc), to attempt to be privy to that feeling of spacetime contracting and expanding, to perceive it and not be affected by it. Critiquing the ideological model that defines self-destruction (which includes drug use, body mutilation, etc.) as a pathological activity, she argues that society characterizes self-destruction as a singularly bodily practice, even if it may have subsidiary psychological effects (also pathologized). Yet, it is morality that circumscribes the body, even though morality is an abstraction of the mind (14). She suggests, instead, that these “self-destructive” activities, such as addiction, risk-taking, suicide, and so on, are experiments with the limits of our own sustainability. She goes as far to suggest that even suicide is an activity that is based out of our desire for life. Self-destructive activities are modes of communication. They communicate the intensity of existence (although I wish she would expand on this rather contentious point). Braidotti mentions that it is through the body that forces move through and into —is the body then the medium? The body is an affective force (3). Affect happens upon the body. “Sensations … are not images perceived by us outside our body, but rather affections localized within the body” (Bergson 1920, 51). Perception is an external action, external in that it measures our possible actions upon things, and thus, the possible actions of things upon us. Bergson differentiates that this is pure perception, and in its pure state is a part of all things (68). However, he notes pure perception cannot exist because we are encumbered by memory. Memory serves as a preservation instinct, and Braidotti argues that even at our times of boundary pushing, we know not to take that last drink, pill, shot, because we have to endure. Endurance is “an affirmation of the creativity of the subject” (2). Ethics, then, is a faithfulness to the desire to become —to the generative potential of existence.
Yet, she frames death so elegantly, that this paper would have been perfect to train kamikaze pilots with. Morbid, I know, but hey Thousand Plateaus was used in a pretty horrendous way so…
There is much more to contextualize on the issue, but I had to get it out now. It has somehow calmed my fears about dying, even for a few minutes on this Friday night while I drink vinegary white wine I found in the back of my fridge someone must have left behind. Ok, in short, she’s basically riffing off Sylvia Plath: “Dying is an art, like everything else, I do it exceptionally well.”
also: a year ago today (Sept 1, 2011) I moved to Montreal to start my PhD. It’s our anniversary.
August 13th, 2012 § § permalink
Earlier this summer, my supervisor Kim Sawchuk, Owen Chapman, Alison Loader, Ben Spencer and I, created a special issue of wi: journal of mobile media, called open wi, as a response to the student strike movement in Quebec. I also contributed some writing and photography. It’s a good time to let the rest of the world know that the day before the fall semester starts (attempts to start?), elections are happening in Quebec on September 4. Don’t let politics take advantage of you.