Tag: obesessions

  • Digital Imagination


    I am doing that reading thing that I do. I finally accepted that I am okay engaging with Psycho-analysis. I just can’t work with Lacan. It doesn’t work for my thinking. I’ve read a few things that have allowed this to be okay. Currently I am reading Kelly Oliver’s The Colonization of Psychic Space. It has been fantastic for me. It let me know that my thinking was on the write track and gave me many tools, quotes, and citations to explain why so much of the theoretical canon does not work for my project. So, as I speak into the abyss of the digital, I really want to say think you to Kelly Oliver for writing this book.

    One of the things that I am loving is she does such a wonderful deep engagement with Fanon. When I took my Fanon course, and wrote my paper, it was all about getting out of the net of colonization that he speaks about and creating new worlds by taking what exists and imagining it differently.

    So when I got to this part on page 42?

    If the true revolution is one of imagination, it requires not only the creation of positive values for those abjected by dominant culture but also the revaluation of values such that the very structure of valuation is opened up for transformation. It requires throwing off not only Marx’s imaginary chains but also chains that bind the imaginary and thereby restrict psychic space.

    There was a audible yes said and then some frantic typing.

    But what does this have to do with Digital Media?

    I’ve been thinking through my project and imagination in terms of Performance Studies. That seems like a natural fit. When I read this, it hit me that it is just as valid in terms of engagement with Media Studies as well. The Digital is a realm that allows us to actively engage in imagination towards world making. By being able to pick and choose what we see, what we share, what we put together, we create worlds that encapsulate both alienation and community/communal-ness, while at the same time, directly engaging what Western epistemology has deemed the ultimate form of meaning making (and world making), the Archive. The role of the curator has been expanded. Rather than having a lead curator, there are always multiple curators, putting things together and taking things apart in ways that were not possible before. The level at which this happens goes out of the past realms of possibility (in terms of pace, size, and scale). That isn’t to say new media of the past didn’t change things in similar ways (see the electronic age happened). The Digital is different though. The element of imagination is built into the scripts. While other forms of media engage imagination, I’m thinking especially video games, the biggest difference I see in previous media is that script has a set ending. While technically digital media runs on scripted programs, the script tends to be open ended. It is really a space where the user is asked to imagine the possibilities and make what they will/want. When we couple digital media with social media, we are asked to imagine the possibilities in a way that changes the world we live in, not just the world on the screen, with people we have the possibility of speaking with instead of just speaking to or about. Depending on how we use these tools, the ability to imagine different types of social engagement and create the networks that enable those engagements with the click of a send/post button and the proper hashtag or keyword in miliseconds seems pretty revolutionary to me. And that is awesome.

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  • Working Through the Breasts of The Secret Museum of Anthropology

    The Secret Museum of Anthropology
    I have a book. It has been in my possession for a few weeks now. It is called The Secret Museum of Anthropology. It was a private printing from the American Anthropological Association created in 1935 from a series of pirated photos. It included illustrations as well, to make it more science-y I am guessing. The photo above is the cover, the copy, and the drawing that I’ve been intrigued by since receiving the book. I… like it? No. Yes? It is provocative. That is a better word I think.

    So, today, since I woke up an hour early due to daylight savings time, I decided to finally work through the illustration and the book by drawing, photographing, printing, cutting, and pasting. The result is a triptych (three 16x20inch panels) of the book and the breasts featured in the book. I did this because my way of working through problems is to play with them/tear them apart, recreate them, meditate on them, and then figure out what the hell is going on in my head around it (Yay to weird methodological approaches!).

    Secret Museum Types of Breasts and NIpples
    Secret Museum Types of Breasts and Nipples

    [those are some crooked photos!] I think I might keep it in this order. I think what was so intriguing to me about the photograph is the ability to reduce even breasts to types, when, if you actually put the illustration next to the breasts in the book, it… doesn’t work. The reduction is actually, hilarious. And the actual breasts in the book are overwhelming. So, that is where I am. The problem is, and will always be, the reduction of women of color from specific groups being reduced to a squiggly line, a line that can be erased and erases at the same time.

    I need to finish cleaning up the drawings. I am debating adding the numbers. I will be sharing the triptych with a class in 1.5 weeks, so I need to get everything finalized. I think I’m almost there.

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  • My Temporal Configuration

    Currently reading Cruising Utopia, The Then and There of Queer Futurity by José Esteban Muñoz (Ha! he has a wikipedia page). It made me think of the image Your fictions become history (a current side obsession).  It is reminding me that I have a very specific temporal position I work from.  I think that it is something I need to… not get over… but be mindful of as I approach people working in different temporal frameworks.  How/where we see the importance of time changing so much about how we approach the world. Truly.  Also, I feel really dirty for having a temporal framework.

    My Basic Temporal Configuration

    Untitled (Your fictions become history), 1983
    Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Your fictions become history), 1983
    photograph and type on paper
    9 5/8 x 6 1/4 inches (24.4 x 15.9 cm

    I believe the now is transient at best.

    (really, it is fleeting.)

    I believe the past is about the future.

    (as such, we create both the past and the future)

    I believe that this means that the past is the key to the future.

    (and the now is a combination of both the past and the future)

    I believe memory is how we remember the past.

    (it is also the key to how we imagine the future)

    I believe that what we remember is faulty.

    (and the past determines how we fill in the gaps in the future)

    I believe the Digital fundamentally changes how we conceptualize & interact with Memory.

    (and this is a big part of what I’m exploring in my dissertation)



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  • Thoughts on Modern Human Zoos

    Yesterday I came across an article in the Guardian,
    Human safaris may be banned, but still tourists flock to Andaman Islandse My initial reaction was “I can’t believe they are still doing this”, because, as the article states, this is a re-visit, but also because “they” have been “doing this” for a while. I found my reaction to be interesting, because, well, we’ve been doing this, and are still doing it, to.

    We, in the USA, have a unique relationship to the places that were so often a part of looking at the other with a consumptive gaze (I hesitate to add spectatorial because I feel like it is too neutral for the spectacularization of peoples that I am thinking of). There is an entire segment of this country’s population that, due to their epidermal schema are not allowed to trace themselves back to any place but a continent, not even a country, and as such identify with anything coming from that direction, even as history tells us this group of people is a blend of multiple ethnicities from multiple continents. Additionally, 20th and 21st century movements have called for connections across the Black/African Diaspora as though our histories are universal (something I think they both are and are not), or, to make it sound more theoretical, our histories are not not universal.

    That being said, when old school, circa 1860s, colonization gets talked about in the US, I feel like we act as though this country’s role was as spectators of the spectacle. We keep a cool distance, perhaps because it would bring up our own elephant in the room that we never exactly confront head on. That elephant is of course slavery and the reasons why our African-Americans are African-Americans and not Specific-Place-In-Africa-Americans.
    As a quick aside, I just realized I’ve never once contemplated the links that can be made between slaves being put on display at auctions and people being put on display in colonial villages. I find that very odd. We are not disconnected from the larger history of people being put display in the context of colonization, from the Expositions and World’s Fairs hosted in this country to Ota Benga being put on display in the Bronx zoo, we are implicated in this history.

    A big part of my project is reclaiming some of the traces of that history through recontextualization. And yes, it is as problematic and complicated as it sounds. I like to think that these complexities what makes it a project worth doing. The project started when I found the archive of photographs W.E.B. Dubois sent to the 1900 Paris Exposition. Like everything related to this topic, I find his participation in the Exposition problematic, but I understand. I think it was step 1 in trying to flip the narrative from written about us to written by us, and for us. I imagine some of my discomfort comes from the idea of visualizing the talented 10th and not the whole. But that is another post. Maybe.

    The reason I find modern human zoos so disconcerting is because we know, unequivocally now I hope, that all groups are capable of speaking for themselves and creating their own (hi)stories. As an example, look at what is being done with L.A. Gang Tours, a program, that, like Dubois, I find problematic as it re-inscribes dominant narratives of “the hood”, but its heart is in the right place (more or less my feelings on Dubois and Paris 1900). Still, programs like this seem to be the exception, and, despite our visible age, there is very limited digital visibility, and I can’t help but question why these things remain so hidden, even as I know what the reason probably is.

    The power structure we continue to live in means that certain groups that have less access to power (in all ways power can be defined) are still placed within contexts, both spatial and temporal, real and imagined, that mirror the past of expositions and zoos that put humans on display. From the Polynesian Cultural Center and their calls to “Go Native” by participating tree climbing, spear throwing, and fire making, rather than positioning it as learning about indigenous traditions, to the imagined Z-world of Detroit, that I imagined hoped to employ local, mostly black populations in the role of zombies, a concept that was born from the history of various African countries and made its way to the US via slavery and Haiti, at risk communities are still seen as something that can be contained, commodified, and experienced from a distance even in our own USA backyard, even as we try to write ourselves out of the History of colonization.

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