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09:45-11:15 PLENARY EVENT: Laura Kurgan Keynote Address

Laura Kurgan is a Professor of Architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, where she directs the Center for Spatial Research and the Visual Studies curriculum. She is the author of Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics (Zone Books, 2013) and Co-Editor of Ways of Knowing Cities (Columbia Books on Architecture, 2019). Her work has been exhibited internationally, most recently Chicago Architecture Biennial (2019), at the Biennale Architettura di Venezia (2018), and in the Jerome L. Greene Science Center at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute (2017).

Her lecture will focus a collaborative project: Homophily, the Urban History of an Algorithm, currently on view at the Chicago Architecture Biennial 2019.  The research focuses on the urban origins of the term homophily, its formalization and proliferation through the algorithmic logics of online networks, and the risks we run when it becomes not just a descriptive model but a prescriptive rule for social life.

Sponsored by UCI Illuminations and the Emergent Media + Design initiative.

11:30-13:00 SPECIAL EVENT: Books Books Books!

Tables with books from the following publishing concerns will be located in the conference center common area for all three days of the conference.

Palgrave Macmillan

Penn State University Press

The Scholar's Choice

University of Minnesota Press

Publisher tables will continue every day until the conclusion of the conference.

11:30-13:00 Session 2A: Game Studies Stream: Affecting/Identity
Location: Emerald Bay DE
“See Hero, Kill Hero:” Representation and Strategy in League of Legends Competitive Play

ABSTRACT. Game studies scholars have recently turned toward affect theory to resolve debates over whether to prioritize form or representations in analysis (Anable 2018; Keogh 2018). While this scholarship has been highly effective at better integrating otherwise incompatible perspectives, it also suggests that the difference between form and representation is altogether illusory and claims to be a more authentic, theoretical description of how games and meaning function. In this talk, I will instead be analyzing the effect of affect. I hope to suggest that “representationalism” as a mode of thought is not limited to academic critique but is enacted daily by players across the world. I will be putting representationalism under the microscope, analyzing both its conceptual history in Western thought, as well as its present-day manifestations in the strategy and play of eSports. MOBA-style eSports are useful to study, in particular, due to their formal concatenation of both strategic and RPG elements, as well as the trajectory of their global emergence. League of Legends is unique among MOBAs for its relatively-early development of robust global competition. In 2011-2012, only North American, European, and Russian teams attended international competition. Because of this, the competitive “meta,” or strategic and conceptual approach to the game, emerged from what analysts called a “Western” context. The contingency of this mode of play was thrown in stark relief once Korean and Chinese teams entered the scene. Through an analysis of competitive game records and interviews, I will examine how North American, European, and Russian teams borrowed from Western traditions of strategic thought that rely on a representational relationship to strategy games such as Chess. I hope to show that formalism and representationalism, rather than being theoretical categories, are conceptual reservoirs and modes of engagement that vary across contexts of play.

What If The Lion Wrote? Stories From The Absented In Game Narratives

ABSTRACT. The politics of identity and representation are always involved in our conversations about games. Certainly, in their relevance regarding culture as stated by Dovey & Kennedy (2006), “play and games do not occur beyond meaning and culture but have a direct structural relationship with their dominant systems insofar as they license a space in which meaning, status, power, and identity can be subject to experimentation and become a ’source of new culture’ (p. 100). There is a great proverb - that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. Without more content and analysis from African makers and scholars providing a counternarrative, stereotypical representations and tropes will continue to remain. In an effort to remedy this, we are working towards content exploring alternative histories, Afrofuturism and speculative fictions - crucial in moving global audiences towards revisiting the primacy of ‘the tale of the hunter’. Under the rubric of literature and cinema disciplines in both post slavery and postcolonial studies, game making, criticism, and analysis can flesh out issues such as representation, essentialism, nationalism and become vehicles for social commentary. Part of a team working on Afro game content and distribution, we aim to entertain and to enlighten, repositioning collective consciousness around the African narrative. In my paper, I will briefly discuss the societal and structural issues surrounding use and production cultures of games that establish dominant gaming communities and reinforce systems of inequality. I will then draw on contemporary speculative fictions and alternative historical narrative to show the place of speculative fictions in contemporary postcolonial discourse. After that I will discuss our current game development process, how we are building on African literature to tap into history, culture, symbols, myth and ritual; as well as how we are navigating

Digital Dispossessions: The Importance of Regional Specificity and Sovereign Spaces to Video Game Representations of Native American Cultural Heritage

ABSTRACT. Indigenous peoples and their cultural heritages, their ways of knowing and living, are tied to their land even when they may no longer be physically located within them. As Mishuana Goeman states in her essay “Land as Life: Unsettling the Logics of Containment” within the seminal collection Native Studies Keywords edited by Stephanie Nohelani Teves, Andrea Smith, and Michelle H. Raheja, “Land is foundational to people’s cultural practices, and if we define culture as meaning making rather than as differentiation and isolation in a multicultural neoliberal model, than by thinking through land as a meaning-making process rather than a claimed object, the aspiration of Native people are apparent and clear,” (Goeman, 73). Goeman asserts here that while yes, land is a physical space, it cannot and should not be limited to that. Instead, land is place and gives place. It locates a group of people physically, culturally, spiritually, intellectually, etc. and provides them with both an internal and external locus of understanding for and within broader society. This paper utilizes a decolonial Indigenous framework to analyze the lack of regional specificity in the representation of Indigenous peoples within game development and the colonial mode of play through which players consume open-world role playing video games that leads to the proliferation of these types of misrepresentations. When characters like Connor Kenway of Assassin’s Creed III are completely removed from any meaningful connection to their land, an erasure of culture occurs. Moreover, in games such as Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption series, the physical removal of Indigenous peoples from the virtual representations of their lands is another form of dispossession and the enactment of digital Manifest Destiny. Digital games and the spaces they create that feature and represent Indigenous people

11:30-13:00 Session 2B: Experimental Engagements in Desire
Location: Emerald Bay A
Sleepers Redux and the Dilemma of Viewing

ABSTRACT. Forrest Solis’s 2016 Sleepers Redux references another Sleepers canvas, painted by the celebrated 19th century realist Gustave Courbet in 1866 as a private commission for Khalil Bey, a wealthy Turkish diplomat residing in Paris. His painting depicts two young women, one brunette, and the other blond, locked in a post-coital embrace. Le Sommeil—the painting’s original French title—has been described as “unambiguously erotic,” “a projection of painterly desire,” a “flamboyantly erotic image of sexual transgression,” and “pseudo-lesbian soft porn.” According to the late art critic Robert Hughes, Courbet’s Sleepers proves “the impossibility of distinguishing […] between ‘pornography’ and ‘art.’” To be sure, its first, very brief, public showing (in a window of a picture dealer) in 1872, six year after completion resulted in a police report. The painting was not publicly displayed again until 1988.

Solis revisits Courbet’s eponymous masterpiece 150 years later, now configuring the much-discussed binary of his models (blond/brunette, feminine/masculine type), as an allegory of a symbiotic relationship between art-practice and art-history. The models in Solis’ painting are the artist herself, and her art-historian friend and former colleague, who also curated this exhibition. The painting came about as collaboration between them.

This object-subject merger solves a paradox postulated by the feminist art historian Linda Nochlin in her analyses of Courbet’s Sleepers, where she explains how her identity as both a woman and an art historian essentially forces her to “give up [her] status as a viewer.” Nochlin concludes her discussion of the painting on a rather exasperated note, with a rhetorical question: “why must transgression—social and artistic alike—always be enacted (by men) on the naked bodies of women?” Solis’ Sleepers Redux shows that it does not.

Experimental Engagements in Desire

ABSTRACT. A painting, like a body, is a space of erotic possibility to be explored through focused working and reworking. Liberating its desire, the form speaks and I begin to understand what it wants and how it responds. The erotic is a dialogue of desire (what Deleuze would call a power of a smooth over a striated space). This excess is a space in which the painting floats free of representational signification—the painting has no shame. Liberated while confined in the frame, the object nakedly gives itself over to the viewer who is then caught and taken into a dialogue.

In this dialogue is a play of surface and the haptic. The surface is the object quantified, drawn out in a rational plane of representation. The haptic is the moment of excess in which, while seeing the object-as-surface one feels a haptic depth that is unseen. Roland Barth’s comments on the striptease work here: it is only in through the veil of surfaces with the promise of something more beneath that a depth of desire is built and a dialogue of the erotic is maintained. My work explores finding those moments and making them palpably felt experiences for the viewer.

Pleasure, Desire, Repetition

ABSTRACT. Deleuze’s conception of desire is often acknowledged as more liberating and productive than its psychoanalytic counterpart. Unmoored from the weight of the fundamental lack ascribed to it by Lacan, Deleuzian desire opens up toward less linear and subject-oriented experiences of temporality and embodiment. At the same time, Deleuze’s conception rests on what I argue is a problematic rejection of pleasure. Using Deleuze against himself and engaging his conception of repetition to discuss art, I place these productive and problematic dimensions in conversation with each other.

11:30-13:00 Session 2C: Mystical Materiality: Incommunicable, Uncontrollable, Immeasurable I
Location: Doheny Beach C
Into the Void: Rethinking the Unrepresentability of Climate Trauma

ABSTRACT. Memory and trauma studies have become one of the latest additions of perspectives to rethink the (slow) violence of climate crises and our perceptions and affective relations towards the future. However, ‘climate trauma’ complicates the notions of representability and referentiality similarly embedded in the concept of trauma and the phenomenon of climate change itself. Trauma conceptually implies a distorted, fragmented and non-cohesive mode of representation. Comparably, climate change, as Morton has suggested, exists ‘in and out of sight’, putting us, according to Ghosh, in a ‘crisis of imagination.’ Existing within this double entendre of unrepresentability, climate trauma thus can be regarded as an archetypal trauma. As such, it requires closer examination.

However, thinking with the perspective on memory as ‘open wound’ and the dynamics of memory and forgetting as identified by Lyotard, this paper shall not regard climate trauma as being in need of representation per se. Instead, it will argue that unrepresentability can serve as a key concept to interpret the possibility of a moral imperative stemming from a ‘memory of the future.’ In so doing, this paper aims at thinking with the unrepresentability of climate trauma and how this in turn can lead to a better understanding of living with the uncertainties of the future under climate change.

The Ineffable & Affective: Temporal Contemplations in Eco-Cinema

ABSTRACT. Much of today’s ongoing environmental destruction operates on a nearly invisible level, taking greatest effect only over long periods of time, and this generates what Rob Nixon calls “slow violence.”[i] Many artists are attempting to manifest more invisible and durational environmental changes, serving as seers, soothsayers, communicators, and elucidators. This way of seeing calls for a sensing of both the boundedness and abundance of our planet, and a perceiving, through creative means, of a less visible spectrum of casualties and prospects. In other words, it stands in contrast to a plethora of post-apocalyptic optics offered recently in scholarly debates and the popular realm, which perpetuate the reductive and violent outlook of an erased, tabula rasa landscape.

A conceptual lens of looking towards deep horizons, instead, of moving back-and-forth from the local to the planetary, suggests a more expansive investigation of space and time in order to learn from past and present experiences, and to imagine more ethically durable futures. A theory of vital materialism by Jane Bennett,[iv] for example, would be even more resonant within a larger social-emancipatory project of human and nonhuman planetary inhabitation. It is imperative that artists and humanists recover and reimagine a foundational grammar of animacy,[v] as indigenous activist and botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer advocates. Here I examine the ways in which cinema is particularly suited to addressing concerns around the ethical entanglements of making any kind of artwork today and of finding tactics to be more attuned to how that work has the power to move people emotionally.

[i] Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 2011).  [ii] Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham, NC: Duke University, 2010). [iii]Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants (Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2013)

11:30-13:00 Session 2D: Revisiting Reunion: Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, and the Experimental Gaming of Art, Life, and Chess
Location: Doheny Beach B
“For Duchamp, Life and Art: It’s All a Game of Chess”

ABSTRACT. Marcel Duchamp once famously said “Not all artists are chess players, but all chess players are artists.” Over the course of the artist’s life, art and chess blended into a whole. That history may be arranged along the lines of the unfolding of a chess game: the opening, the mid-game, and finally the endgame. Attentive to the significance that Duchamp placed on the endgame this paper considers problematic aspects of the 1966 photograph of Marcel Duchamp published in the Time/Life volume The World of Marcel Duchamp. The full-page photograph, located near the end the volume, shows Duchamp seated casually behind a wrongly oriented chess board on which the pieces appear haphazardly arranged. Are we in the company of the trickster? A close reading invites us to consider the photograph as an agent conveying a sous-texte, leaving open questions whether the photograph was hastily composed, or carefully considered slyly offering us, though arcane signals, clues to his secreted endgame ploy.

The Reunion of Duchamp and Cage: Art, Collaboration, and Time Travel

ABSTRACT. In March 1968 when Duchamp and Cage staged “Reunion”—their famous chess match—at the Ryerson Theatre in Toronto, the two artists used a specially prepared chess board, developed by Lowell Cross, at the request of John Cage. Using photoresistors, Cross devised a system that both amplified the sound of the pieces being moved across the board and projected “oscilloscopic images” of the game and the sound effects it generated. As Cross explained, the game represented “a performance in which games of chess determined the form and acoustical ambience of a musical event.” This talk looks at the ways in which this collaboration brought forward Duchamp’s longstanding interest in playing contemporary science and technology, from the early twentieth century until the conclusion of his career, against the grain, creating a “playful physics” that pushed his audience to abandon traditional expectations, including that of the linear flow of time. While adhering to rule-bound play, then, this match also exploited and exhibited the commitment of Duchamp and Cage to undermining convention to construct new opportunities for creative exchange—even across many years. If Duchamp’s 1968 “Reunion” with Cage alluded to a friendship that had been decades in the making, this opportunity to revisit Reunion over half a century later in turn reflects Duchamp’s own 1955 pronouncement that “[Y]ou should wait for fifty years or a hundred years for your true public. That is the only public that interests me.” Just how does this experimental intermedial artistic exchange continue to reverberate today?

“A Game of Chess – There is No Solution Because There is No Problem.”

ABSTRACT. Playing off of the interactive nature of chess and the collaborative interaction between Duchamp and Cage, as well as their joint indebtedness to surrealism as a set of artistic and intellectual strategies, Rothman and Summers direct a chess match that employs the model of the “exquisite corpse” to provide an innovative mode of participation on the part of the organizers and audience members in the chess match. In the surrealist tradition of the “exquisite corpse” one person begins the composition (in this case the chess match). The incomplete composition is then passed on to the next person who adds a new part, and so on. Like the surrealist drawing or poem, the chess match will lack unity of structure or reason, leaving it like Duchamp’s statement, “There is no solution because there is no problem."

11:30-13:00 Session 2E: Artists as Transformers of Space and Place
Location: Emerald Bay B
“A Knockdown Piece:” Donald Judd’s Turnbuckle Boxes

ABSTRACT. In June 1964, the exhibition Twentieth Century Engineering opened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Curated by Arthur Drexler, MoMA’s director of the Department of Architecture and Design, the exhibition showcased the most stunning and innovative civil engineering structures designed during the previous half century. Artist Donald Judd wrote a review of the exhibition for Arts Magazine, opining that “dams, roads, bridges, tunnels, storage buildings and various other useful structures comprise the bulk of the best visible things made in this century.” While receiving much popular praise at the time, the exhibition has been ignored in art historical scholarship. In this paper, I recover the importance of Twentieth Century Engineering, and show how the structures and ideas presented in the MoMA exhibition impacted the development of Judd’s art. In particular, I focus on his turnbuckle boxes, a series of artworks that he began making just a few months after seeing Twentieth Century Engineering. For these works, Judd not only used modern industrial materials, namely steel plates and plexiglass sheets, but also devised a system inspired by the practices of engineering. Parallel wires are strung from one end of the box to the other and are tightened via turnbuckles to provide the tension that holds the work together. The same system of force and counterforce was used in the new cable-stayed bridges that featured in Twentieth Century Engineering. Judd–like an engineer–developed a system to economically solve a problem. In contrast to the designers of bridges, however, Judd thought a solution to a different problem: The mechanism allowed him to assemble and disassemble his bulky artworks, so that they could easily be shipped to exhibition venues across the country. He created, to use his words, “a knockdown piece."

Looking Down from Mount Olympus: Black Shoals, Cybernetics, and Biocentrism

ABSTRACT. The Black Shoals installation, first exhibited at the Tate Gallery in 2001, was a multifaceted artwork that combined several elements and layers of visualization. The installation resembled, ostensibly, a small planetarium. A projection was cast onto the underside of a suspended dome; what viewers saw when they gazed up at it was a celestial model of the stock market. Individual stars correlated to individual companies, clustered together to form constellations of different industries. Periodically, stars would surge in luminosity, modeling trades executed on those companies in real time; the brighter the flash, the more money that has changed hands.

Yet it was a second feature of Black Shoals that allowed it to function as more than a mere data visualization platform. The installation was an ecosystem for swarms of artificial life organisms that flitted between the companies and fed off the energy produced by the trades. What was especially remarkable about these creatures was their ability to evolve: by carrying genetic information and exhibiting reproduction, the creatures were able to pass on successful genes, leading to a proliferation of different phenotypes.

Often, when engaging with ALife projects, there is a temptation to assign the organisms narrative and allegorical readings. In this paper, however, I will examine the functional role of Black Shoals, as an experimental space for directly engaging with the intersections between economic and ecological modeling. Through consideration of the cybernetic thought and literature that informed the development of the project, especially the work of Norbert Wiener, Stafford Beer, and Margaret Mead, this paper will demonstrate the experimental perspective that Black Shoals creates and enables viewers to occupy: that of biocentric modeling. Through engagement with this perspective, Black Shoals critically illuminates how this ontology permeates modern economic structures.

Asking “What if” questions in artistic experimentation: Animals and risky speculations

ABSTRACT. What if we re-imagine animals who learn human languages not as captives in a scientific investigation, but as explorers whose curiosity led them to study the language and behavior of humans? What if we re-cast the pathetic and lonely nearly-extinct creatures known as endlings as zombies, returned from the dead in hordes to take their revenge? What if we view the sensationalized, sometimes sexualized, relationships between experimenter and subject in several famous animal-language studies as legitimate interspecies families? Many artists and creators live in the world of the speculative, and for them, experimentation often looks like simply asking the question “what if...?” As a visual artist, I make work that centers on animals and their role in the production of knowledge. Three of my recent projects have asked these questions, using miniature dioramas of fictional monuments, a horror-punk comic, and a full-scale replica of a 60’s housewares store to provide possible answers. This presentation connects these three projects rooted in scientific experimentation along the lines of artistic experimentation, and asks what artistic experimentation might offer. As approaches that favor the empirical and rational emerged as a response to magical thinking, what was lost? In what ways do miniatures and transformed spaces, convincing replicas, and storytelling return a sense of magic, the ineffable, and the affective to experimental questions? Further, can artistic approaches contend with the possible dangers of asking risky speculative questions? (What about the problematic history of colonialism embedded in scientific inquiry with animal “explorers”? Do we undermine the seriousness of anthropogenic species loss by engaging with the popular interest in zombies? How do we acknowledge issues of consent if we argue for more empathy towards unusual human-animal relationships?)

11:30-13:00 Session 2F: 19th/c Cosmopolitics
Location: Emerald Bay C
John Lloyd Stephens's Transnational American Archaeology in the 1840s

ABSTRACT. John Lloyd Stephens was a trailblazer in Mesoamerican archaeology who published his extensive travel accounts examining Mayan temples in Central America and Yucatan in 1841 and 1843. While he is not well known today, his books were bestsellers in the nineteenth century. In recent years, the few scholars writing about Stephens (such as David Johnson and William Lenz) have typically characterized him as an imperialist explorer who appropriated the cultural history of Native and Latin Americans.

This paper complicates that characterization by placing Stephens’s archaeological work in the context of Yucatan history, particularly the brief history of the Republic of Yucatan during the 1840s. For a short time, Yucatan not only declared independence but also formed an alliance with the Republic of Texas; some thought it would become a US state. When Stephens arrived in the capital city of Merida in October of 1841, “in search of American ruins,” the future of Yucatan was very uncertain. It was part of a democratizing Gulf Coast region with a rich Native history. The political climate raised the possibility that the country could become part of the United States, but white Hispanic Yucatecans were threatening to dismantle the territory’s ancient Native architecture. Stephens’s archaeological work engages with this complex socio-historical situation to argue for the preservation and elevation of Mayan culture by contextualizing ruined temples as part of a broader hemispheric American history.

Thoreau’s Nineteenth-century Journal as Science-Fiction Narrative: Preceding Contemporary Theories in New Materialism

ABSTRACT. In this paper, I argue that reading Thoreau’s Journal as a science fiction narrative, as opposed to merely a scientific journal, provokes questions about the nature of objectivity and reality: What is objective reality and how can it be accessed, if at all? Are symbols/objects of Nature interpretable, or are their meanings inherent and irreducible within the objects themselves? In “Posthuman Performativity,” Karen Barad argues for what she calls “agential realism”: matter is an on-going process of intra-actions (between subject/object, observer/observed), rather than the end result of observation. In turn, I argue that Thoreau’s nineteenth-century project dissolves the subject-object duality to reveal that Nature speaks for itself and that an object as observed has its own inherent meaning. Thoreau’s project, therefore, precedes contemporary theories in New Materialism.

Whereas Sharon Cameron and Theo Davis argue that Thoreau represents and interprets Nature in his poetic journal entries by bringing attention to and placing symbols of Nature in a particular way in order to instigate analysis and understanding, I posit that Thoreau does not actually strive to find or inspire meaning from Nature. Instead, altogether pushing against Emersonian theories of nature-as-symbol by presenting nature as he saw it, he demonstrates the mutability of matter with narrative techniques: stream-of-consciousness, free associations, surprising connections via metaphor, and a method of posing and framing most of his observations as questions. In what may at first appear as a conglomeration of whimsical descriptions, Thoreau’s Journal actually demonstrates that rather than a cypher to be decoded, Nature is as “meaning-full” and interconnected as we co-compose it.

My paper explores the following questions: by co-composing Nature in his journal how does Thoreau’s method of matter-making complicate our understanding of experienced vs objective reality? And how does performing literary analysis on a scientific journal/method further obfuscate the distinction between reality/fiction?

Civil War and the Zoo, Entangled: Animals, Language, Politics, and Laughter, 1888-1891

ABSTRACT. Shortly after the Civil War ended, the zoo movement, alongside other urban cultural movements, swept the United States, both in the North and the South. The history of American zoos, of course, have much to say about the history of conservation, animal history, historical ecology, the history of science and medicine, and evolutionary history as they, in turn, inform histories of nation-building, urbanization, and empire. Zoos, though, can also tell (bio)political stories. While zoogoers themselves rarely encountered politics along zoo footpaths, in the halls of Congress the ties that bound the National Zoo and its animals to politics proved more visible, especially when the topic of the zoo exploded into years of intense sectional debate in the House of Representatives. The National Zoological Park, as the only zoo in American history whose governance fell under the purview of the federal legislature, offers a unique window into a semiology that fused animals to debates about government that divided a nation through and after the Civil War. Animals were used by Congressmen to conjure sectional ideologies that could not be wielded as aggressively in an era of reconciliation. Using methods derived from animal studies, this essay will call attention to the sectionalism of the National Zoo.

Re-folding Whitman: Reading, Borges, and the American Neobaroque

ABSTRACT. Read through the work of Gilles Deleuze, the Baroque indicates not a periodization but an “operative function, a trait,” the expression of an “infinite work or process.” Indeed, resonating with Cecilia Vicuña’s emphasis on poetry as an infinite act of on-going-ness, Deleuze suggests that, in the Baroque, “the problem is not to finish a fold, but how to continue it, to have it go through the ceiling, how to bring it into infinity.” Following these folds, and writing of Baroque aesthetics, literary critic Leo Cabranes-Grant suggests that: “It is precisely the ‘yet to come’ of the Baroque and of its sequel, the Neobaroque, that provides an opportunity for the articulation of intercultural subjectivity. The Baroque—historical and contemporary—elaborates a poetics of becoming in which mediation assumes a central role.” With these rivulets in mind, I turn to Jorge Luis Borges’s translation of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855), Hojas de Hierba (1969), to develop an understanding of Neobaroque reading practices—tactics for a ‘yet to come’—probing the relationship between form, politics, mediation, and experimental poetry. Situated between Don Luis Góngora and James Joyce, I argue that Borges’s Whitman allows us to envision a polyphonic América as the source of thought, critique, and (re)creation. By providing a schema for the improvisatory articulation of new “Walt Whitman’s” emerging from each reading, Borges’s translation functions as a technology of counterconquest (Lezama Lima), performing an on-going process of transformation, adaptation, and re-orientation.

11:30-13:00 Session 2G: A Nonseparate Earth
Location: Doheny Beach A
Starry Ether and Nebulous Transcendence: Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Scientific Vision in Poems

ABSTRACT. In responding to the ways in which speculative practices tangle with utopic, communitarian, and transcendental ideals, my proposed conference paper will address Ralph Waldo Emerson’s engagement with optics and astronomy in his first volume of poetry in 1847. The paper draws upon a dissertation chapter in which I contend Emerson goes beyond just casual allusion to and incorporation of concepts drawn from astronomy and optics and instead offers a causal theory that points to a material process of transcendental inspiration akin to spiritualism’s use of the ether as a basis for ‘contact’ with departed souls later in the century (cf. Moffet’s “Swept Over an Etheric Niagara” JLS 2015). I balance this abstracted theory against its practice, particularly a passage from his journals in which Emerson laments his inability to make direct contact with his “holy fraternity” of friends leading him to state “But so the remoter stars seem a nebula of united light, yet there is no group which a telescope will not resolve: And the dearest friends are separated by irreconcilable intervals,” a sentiment that stipulates the necessity for a connecting medium. In proposing a mechanism for his utopic form of individual, momentary transcendence—by no means permanent with the fleeting instances of revolutionary inspiration zapped from mind to mind and spirit to spirit (cf. Mastroianni’s “Moods and the Secret Cause of Revolution in Emerson” chapter of Politics and Skepticism in Antebellum American Literature)—Emerson is attempting to co-opt popular excitement surrounding astronomy’s nineteenth-century discoveries by offering a genre- and natural history-inflected version of the inductive method and in the process reclaims literature’s constitutive function in public meaning-making.

Comet Composition/Alien Materiality: Resilience, Attunement, and our Sonic Imagination

ABSTRACT. Comet Composition/Alien Materiality: Resilience, Attunement, and our Sonic Imagination The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, launched in March 2004, made an intriguing discovery in August 2014 on its approach to a comet orbiting Jupiter known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Focused on efforts to soft land a robotic landing module on the comet, the Rosetta space probe’s magnetometer picked up a low-frequency range of electromagnetic waves inaudible to the human ear. After increasing the frequencies 10,000 times to allow for human reception, the resultant sound composition picked up by the spacecraft’s instruments could easily be imagined as the vocalization of some new sentient life form wending its way through the oceanic vacuum of outer space. Whether we think of these electromagnetic frequencies as a random set of oscillations dispersing into the vast emptiness of outer space, or whether we interpret them as patterns of communication occurring outside of human spatial and perceptual awareness, they provide a fascinating set of possibilities toward understanding both the limitations of human sound perception, and the limitlessness of nonhuman and object-based sound production. While human-produced sounds are far from the only types of sound that exist in the Anthropocene, they do tend to drown out and draw attention away from the numerous other sounds produced by the remaining animals, plants, and other-than-human agents that also inhabit Earth’s complex network of interconnected spheres. The importance of sound to these complex networks can be understood through the lenses of human and non-human agency. Their relationship hinges on whether or not humans (as individuals, as cultures, as species) encounter these networks from a position of control and regulation benefitting a trifecta of future growth, production, and consumption; or from a position of enmeshed facilitation and attunement arising from a shared understanding of moral and ethical responsibility for the mutual benefit of

‘All change, no loss, ’tis revolution all’: Experimenting with Affiliation in 19th- and 20th-Century Accounts of the Total Eclipse

ABSTRACT. Nineteenth-century America saw a burgeoning group of women enter the rapidly professionalizing scientific field, where they published in research and popular journals, authored textbooks, spoke on lecture circuits, and taught fellow women. Among these activities, print scholarship for specialized and general audiences alike offered female scientists the most credibility because women were not considered collaborators in spaces such as the lab (Kohlstedt 1978). As such, through print women gained access to and affected public knowledge domains through a “mode of doing science that was itself a form of affiliation” (Baym 2002). Women’s affiliative writing acknowledged the peripheral position of women in science and negotiated this status by, at times subversively, creating a marketable print form of science disseminated to the public. Maria Mitchell, a nineteenth-century astronomer, embodied this writing of affiliation in her essays “The Total Eclipse of 1869” and “The Denver Eclipse [1878].” And though writing a century later and from a decidedly non-scientific background, Annie Dillard’s “Total Eclipse” similarly contemplates the disorienting effects of such an event, offering a nonfiction narrative style of affiliation that expands on Mitchell’s formulations. To this end, I argue that read against one another, these transhistorical essays on the at once scientific and human phenomena of the total eclipse offer an alternative narrative practice that operates as affiliative scientific experimentation. Drawing from the astronomy-minded print of Mitchell attuned to the role of technological instruments in this viewing process, but considered through Dillard’s poetic voice that meditates on who the human becomes and dissolves into under the shadow of a total eclipse, I trace a refigured scientific practice that rests in Mitchell’s “impossibilities” and Dillard’s missing pieces of sun.


ABSTRACT. I will present a recent art project incorporating live cell microscopy and jellyfish.

These images relate to a local story (Puget Sound | University of Washington) that links together a local species of jellyfish with a remarkable scientific achievement that would become a key technique in cell research. In 1962 Dr. Frank Johnson and Dr. Osamu Shimomura isolated the green fluorescent proteins (GFP) in the local jellyfish (Aequoea Victoria), which they collected during many summers at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories in the nearby San Juan Islands.

This protein fluoresces green when illuminated with ultraviolet light and is used to tag the expression of otherwise invisible proteins, rendering visible the inner secrets of cellular processes related to growth, health and disease. Currently, there are a wider range of natural and artificial dyes used in fluorescent labeling.

Luminesce juxtaposes the two submerged worlds of jellyfish and cells to capitalize on this historical narrative and on their visual commonality. As seen through a microscope, the cells appear distant, luminous and mysterious. The colorful jellyfish are more easily understood.

From my first session on the microscope, I was especially fascinated by the use of fluorescent tags and filters. Depending on the filter being utilized, we can observe the DNA, the proteins or the microtubules in the same cell – revealing their remarkably distinct structural appearances, allowing us to see the previously unseen. This work represents a distinct change of scale in my work – from considering the cosmos to diving into the molecular.

11:30-13:00 Session 2H: Poetry as Epistemological Inquiry
Location: Moss Cove B
Whispering into the Void Loop(): AI Misunderstandings as Queer Poetics

ABSTRACT. Language morphs continuously with the changing platforms and practices that contain and distribute it—including increasingly prevalent use of artificial intelligence tools, such as natural language processing. This calls for new approaches to digital writing, both in criticism and practice. I argue for using AI in experimental artistic contexts, and my work re-situating AI-driven texts in unexpected digital–physical spaces—designing interfaces that stealthily acknowledge the presence of other embodied users in individual language experiences. Through the close reading of an arts-based research project, I examine how combinations of text and code behave as interfaces of relation for individual bodies—how those bodies process, absorb, are changed by, and participate in changing language. As a provocation, my piece asks: Could AI reprogram one’s inner critic? inner(voice)over combines AI speech-to-text analysis and text-to-speech synthesis to question the origins of selfhood and to shift what influences an individual’s outlook. Users speak a kind phrase into its acoustic dishes, and inner(voice)over uses Mozilla Deep Speech to anonymize their words and add them to its compassionate inner-voice database. Then users can hear what others have shared, restated in a synthesized AI voice. The piece considers digitally mediated interrelationality by focusing on gaps in interpretation and sutures of meaning. How does the error of an uncanny word choice introduced by an algorithm open layers of poetic resonance, as well as access tensions of the human–machinic? By collaboratively rewriting a communal inner voice using AI—and by attending to imperfections of technological and human communications alike—this experiment explores the possibility of influencing each other through language altered across digital distances. Drawing on Jenny Sundén's theorization of queer disconnection, it focuses on how non-traditional practices with emerging technology can help develop alternative affective relationships with those technologies and with each other.

The Alchemical Animal and Hester Pulter's Speculative Poetics

ABSTRACT. Recent scholarship on science and literature in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has demonstrated the inherently imaginative, speculative, and poetic nature of natural philosophy in the period. In the seventeenth century, women poets also utilized metaphor as an “epistemological strategy” (Hyman, 2017) by relying upon their experiential knowledge of alchemical processes such as purification, calcination, and distillation to consider material and spiritual transformation (Archer, 2005; Dunn, 2015; Chowdhury, 2016). In particular, the 1996 rediscovery of Hester Pulter’s manuscript—edited and published in 2014 as Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda—has sparked widespread scholarly interest in the intersections of alchemy, religion, politics, and poetic form in early modern women’s writing. This paper seeks to build upon this work to read alchemy, the nonhuman animal, and poetic form together in Pulter’s emblem poetry. In a world fundamentally altered by the English Civil War, Pulter’s speculative poetics engage the peripheral perspectives of both woman and animal to instigate moral transformation and induce questioning of political and religious allegiances. Her emblem poetry provides a unique framework for thinking animal encounters as potential sites of alchemical transformation: ultimately, all bodies—human and nonhuman—are calcined into the same dust. As an inherently experimental and alchemical mode, emblems invite the interpretation of moral and spiritual lessons via active reading of interrelated word and image. Pulter’s “naked" emblems, however, do not conform to the conventions typical of emblematic poetry of the period; they collapse the analogical process by distilling words into pictures and requiring readers to examine and transform their lives via metaphors alone. In this paper, I read Pulter’s emblems with special attention to the spectral forms of the animal that emerge alongside her representations of alchemical practices of the period and haunt the boundary between early scientific knowledge and its applicability towards the human subject.

Enduring Experiments with Clark Coolidge and Bernadette Mayer

ABSTRACT. Clark Coolidge (b. 1939) and Bernadette Mayer (b. 1946), American avant-garde poets and longtime friends whose book-length publications span the 1960s to the present day, together represent an important trajectory in postwar poetics and conceptualism. Their intense, self-experimental writing projects, which involve preset research conditions and meta-poetic reflections on the investigatory process, are widely regarded as influential contributions to experimental poetry. Yet, when considered in terms of language-oriented writing, the discourse that has guided their reception, these frameworks are ultimately regarded as non-experimental modes of production, as neither poet proceeds on an expected path toward authorizing the reader in the co-production of meaning. For two poets who take the challenges of knowledge production extremely seriously and imitate scientific subjectivities in surprisingly rigorous ways, this implied limit on what constitutes an experimental outlook has the effect of discouraging careful investigation of some of the most intriguing features of their writing.

My central claim is that Coolidge and Mayer treat poetry as an epistemological endeavor in ways that are far more in-depth, structured, and consequential than their reception thus far suggests. They are experimentalists, I argue, not only in the colloquial sense but also in the particular sense used in science to describe investigators who tackle research questions via experiments, or, structured forms of knowledge production guided by empirical inquiry. They draw upon recognizable methods of experimental practice with unflinching sincerity—controlled observation, testing, inference, and systematic documentation—yet, in their hands, these methods do not serve the kind of positivist knowledge-making model traditionally associated with science. That is, neither poet operates on the conviction that poetry would be more authoritative (a priori) if only its practitioners committed to an organized and neutral “scientific” approach. Instead, their connection to experimental practice is one of shared underlying mission rather than superficial imitation.

11:30-13:00 Session 2I: WORKSHOP: Compost Devotional Ritual

Amici Mortem (Friends of Death) is an emerging interdisciplinary alliance of healers, ritualists, artists, activists and writers working together to transform our theoretical and cultural practices surrounding Death in this unprecedented time. One way of exploring this work is developing rituals that can support an embodied inquiry into the unknown. The Compost Devotional Ritual was created with a 3-fold intention; to deepen our understanding of the cycles of life, death, decomposition and rebirth; to honor the myriad beings - living, dead and non-living - that create the soil food web; and to express gratitude and engage in reciprocity with this dynamic process that makes all life possible. Blurring the lines between science, art and ritual, I will guide a group of up to 25 people through an experiential, winding path; providing context and a theoretical background for the practice, some basic science relating to soil, compost and bio-remediation, and then leading participants through a simple but powerful ritual that can be incorporated into the day-to-day relationships between ourselves and microbial, bacterial, fungal and other beings. This work is the result of many years of experience facilitating public and private ritual in a variety of settings, as well as years of practice working with compost (both as a process and a material).

14:00-15:30 Session 4A: Game Studies Stream: Designing/Literacy
Location: Emerald Bay DE
Embedded Folklore and the Image of Agglutination in Videogames

ABSTRACT. This presentation offers an early discussion that describe gameplay through theories of linguistic computation and cognitive grammar. Borrowing from the concept of agglutination in language, the current work engages one possible method to interpret narrative structure. This essay examines Sam Barlow’s detective fiction Her Story (2015), and Merritt Kopas’s metaphysical platformer, Obéissance (2015), depicting videogame narrative as a compound string of information both symbolic and meaningful. The purpose of this analysis is to explore the linguistic attributes of gaming, to develop a sample “grammar” that describes the experiential results of game “images” when conceived through lexical behaviors. I indicate “experiential results” because the outcomes of these two games involve the player as a cognitive agent whose navigations of language lead to conceptual epiphanies, i.e. the player self-assembles images of “game objects” through the aggregation of signifiers, eventually leading to a holistic understanding of the game world, in both space and story. For the purposes of this presentation, I would like to suggest that these “navigations of language” coincide with the actual passageways of the labyrinths baked into the games, where the architectures of these labyrinths are cosmetic and substantial. A player’s progression through the system is marked by revealing subsequent signifiers and adding them to those already encountered. Progression may then be imaged through the composition of small screens: the accretion of these small screens forms a compound sign, to which I would like to attach the linguistic concept of agglutination, where simple words clump together in order to express complex ideas. Permutations of story, that include the symbols and patterns belonging to folklore and fairytale, establish the flexible mythology through which the possibility of infinite arrangement affords magical expression over the persistence of an ideal form. The current work extends the author’s discussion from previously published material...

Analog Game Design for Literacies Education

ABSTRACT. The relationship between games and literacies education is well established. Both playing and making games can teach students about communication practices which go beyond reading and writing (Gee, 2004; Salen, 2007; Rowsell, 2014). As multimodal artifacts, analog game creation requires expression in a variety of forms, including text, image (art), systems (rules), and speech. Situated within the existing body of literature on games, multimodality, and literacy, this paper describes field research and findings of an analog game design module conducted with a high school class over six weeks in the fall of 2018. In small groups, students created original board games which centered around the theme of “careers”. Students had no prior experience making games and were only given brief tutorials covering game design fundamentals. The purpose of the module was to explore how analog game creation might teach multiple literacies in a single exercise. Based on observations, discussions with the teachers, and student reflection pieces, we found that analog game creation can be an effective, engaging, and efficient avenue for teaching multiple literacies simultaneously. Students wrote rulebooks, created art for boards and marketing materials, and presented their games to a group of educators and professional game developers. The paper concludes with a brief outline of how to incorporate analog game creation in K-12 and post-secondary classrooms.

An Era of Reflexive and Designed Play

ABSTRACT. In the early 1960s, artists associated with Fluxus created a wide variety of new and experimental games: collaged card games, disrupted versions of chess, small sets of nonsensical rules, and conflictual movement exercises without an end. In this paper I argue that we can read this artistic experimentation as a symptom that play was being re-conceptualized as a medium in which artists, writers, engineers and designers could shape a player’s feelings in precise ways. This marks a dramatic shift from a late 19th century paradigm of game creation as invention, and I historicize some of the paths for that development by looking at the decline of game patents and the increasing commercialization of play in educational contexts such as the playground movement. The move from a paradigm of invention to one of design has consequences for historicizing the nature of play and games, because the focus on minute changes in player experience puts a new emphasis on the formal qualities of games. I look at a few ways this change expresses itself, but none more telling than a change in the way that artists look at chess. In the core case of this paper, I contrast Fluxus subversions with a show at the Julian Levy gallery in 1944 called “The Imagery of Chess,” where artists developed the visual and thematic elements of the game in paintings, sculpture, and beautifully designed chess sets without at all altering the rules of the game. The periodization I present in this paper is meant to frame the field of game studies within a longer historical trajectory, and to point out the ways that we may be already thinking and writing within a new paradigm separate from the inward looking reflexivity of game design as it developed from the early 1960s into the 2000s.

14:00-15:30 Session 4B: Animal Powers
Location: Emerald Bay A
The Biopolitics of Animal Disease

ABSTRACT. As Michel Foucault proposes, the birth of biopolitics during the 18th century was constituted by a fundamental change in the nature of sovereign power from “an ancient right to take life or let live” to a new power to “foster life or disallow it to the point of death.” Whereas pre-modern sovereign powers expressed their authority negatively through execution or confinement, Foucault argues that new sciences devoted to the study and management of human populations expanded the domain of governmentality to the proper cultivation of human life. Curiously, given the attention he devotes to disease and agriculture, Foucault (and the majority of scholars who study the subject) devote little to no attention in their biopolitical genealogies to interrelated developments in the optimization and management of animal life. In this paper, I explore the creation in 1704 and institutionalization in the later 18th and 19th centuries of the “Lancisi Method,” which called for the immediate extermination of infected livestock during epizootic outbreaks. As I argue, animal populations “stamped out” by this method can be read through the figure of Agamben’s Homo Sacer: “they may be killed and yet not sacrificed.” Attending to how this lethal method of viral containment was represented in subsequent literature and culture (for example, in the debates surrounding the eradication of foot-and-mouth disease on the US-Mexico border in Larry McMurtry’s Horsemen, Pass By), I show how animal biopolitics serves as both a precursor for and necessary condition to later models of the political optimization of human life.

Conceiving an Urban Wild: Invasive Species, Urban Vitalities, and Inhuman Ruptures Made Monstrous

ABSTRACT. In April of 2019, The Sacramento Bee published an article explaining that mountain-lion P-47 of Southern California, a three-year-old survivor of 2018’s deadly wildfires, had been found dead within the Santa Monica Mountains with no physical injuries except the presence of six different compounds of rat-poison causing “internal hemorrhaging…in his head and lungs” (“Mountain Lion Survived”). As discussions of pollution and animal studies grow and further research of posthuman pairings, little attention has been paid to the supposedly wild, urban species that exist among Los Angeles county’s boundaries which mark the “romantic space of anti-modernity” against ordered and capital normativity. As nature works its way through and across city barriers, even entangling itself into newer and queerer forms, scholars (Tsing; Halberstam and Nyong’o; Horn; Boisseron) of critical human-animal studies, race studies, and developing posthuman and queer theory promote animals and their metonymic relations to humans as a site of theoretical inquiry. In what ways does the area around Los Angeles promote ulterior modes of existence? How may we think of wild engagements as necessary to our current existence on Earth? To what extent can we redefine the limits of urban modern living? And how should we understand urban wildlife and other natural forces as invasive alongside current political debates? Using archival footage, news columns, and photographic evidence, in this paper I survey recent developments in Southern California wildlife and human-animal relations to present eco-critical readings of modern urban environments. I show how the recent losses of wild cats, forest fires, and unruly habitats tie into a political investment in the crises of displaced persons living within Los Angeles, realizing an internalized fear of the Other gripping southern and local border regions and President Trump’s call for fire prevention as actually a racialized and ableist act of violence.

The visual afterlives of bison bones

ABSTRACT. The North American prairie is a place cultivated and settled amongst bison bones. The near extinction of wild bison from the North American prairie in the late 19th century made possible the settler colonization of the western prairies. The elimination of wild bison had both colonial and ecological effects: the Indigenous nations who relied on bison herds were destabilized, ecological relations were strained by the absence of a keystone species, and wild grasslands were converted into private property. Prairie landscapes are thus also memoryscapes of profound loss. Bison bones dominate the visual record of these landscapes and memoryscapes. In this paper, I examine three key photographs from the turn of the 20th century depicting massive piles of bison remains and read the images through Aileen Moreton-Robinson’s concept of the “white possessive.” I argue that these celebratory photographs of piled-up bison bones exemplify both material and symbolic dimensions of white possessiveness, anchored in the dispossession of Indigenous lands, as well as the disavowal of the human-bison relations that are central to plains Indigenous lifeways, but “exist outside of the logic of capital” (Moreton-Robinson 2015, 191). Still circulating in conservation media and popular culture, these photographs create the visual terrain for grappling with the scale of bison elimination and the emergence of colonial industry. I argue that these archival images of animal remains are an instance of a settler sublime. The massive piles of bison bones are material metaphors for the herds that were the keystone species of prairie ecologies and a central relation in Indigenous lifeways. As sublime sites where the world-creating and world-ending capacities of settler colonial violence are received with both awe and terror, these images provide a crucial space for examining the ecological, visual, and political afterlives of bison bones and decolonial futures for human-bison relations.

Biomobility and Pestiferousness in the Case of the Mountain Pine Beetle

ABSTRACT. In the early 2000s, disruptions in environmental conditions resulting from climate change led to large-scale mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) infestations in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. The practices and byproducts of ecological imperialism provided optimal conditions for the rapid movement of pests, argues Nicole Shukin, including the mountain pine beetle, supplying it with what Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga describes as “long-distance invasive power” that at once subverts the forest industry’s global-capitalist project and enacts an imperialist assimilation of territories and communities therein. Exploiting forests’ destabilized ecological balance, the mountain pine beetle recolonizes commercial forests by inserting itself into lumber transport systems installed in these spaces. Thus, we can read the mountain pine beetle’s movements as simultaneously a threat to human economic interests and an echo of human intrusion into and exploitation of forests. As ecological imperialism’s project of industrializing natural realms eventually collapses and returns forested spaces into sites of wildness, examining the asymmetrical relations of biopower that dispossess and mobilize native species into vermin beings evinces the co-production of pestiferousness that is contiguous with the commodification of nature. By threatening the economic interests and infrastructures of lumber industries, the mountain pine beetle functions as an agent of ecological anti-imperialism against the colonial-cum-capitalist state agencies that govern and disrupt forests, thus provoking wider discussions of the imperialist legacies that trouble our times. As one of many actors “composed together” in complex networks of interaction and exchange, to use Latour’s actor network theory, the mountain pine beetle, an affected/affective species, responds relationally to ecological disturbances, while the forest—as an archival site—semiotically communicates the violences acted upon it. The purpose of this argument is not, however, to anthropomorphize nonhuman agency, but to track how the material history of nature’s industrialization has co-produced the multispecies entanglements constituting pestiferous life.

14:00-15:30 Session 4C: Mystical Materiality: Incommunicable, Uncontrollable, Immeasurable II
Location: Doheny Beach C
Paranoia and the Refusal of Incommunicability, Uncontrollability and Immeasurability

ABSTRACT. As the organizers of these panels suggest in their call, contemporary life is characterized by an overwhelming complexity tied to elements of incommunicability, uncontrollability, and immeasurability. Concomitant with this is the increasingly precarious status of expertise, knowledge, and communication. Today, everyone is an expert at the same time as professional knowledge is associated with duplicitous elites, facts are recognized only to the extent that they keep our perception of the world coherent, communication seems to occur all the time but, it has been argued, nothing is really truly communicated. In this paper, I will situate and try to explain this condition in relation to a historical association between knowledge, power, and paranoia. I hope that such a context will not only provide a historical perspective on the contemporary precariousness of knowledge but also help us discern something about its specific conditions today.

‘Simple Rules, Complex Behaviour’: The Mystical in Neoliberal Capitalism

ABSTRACT. ‘Simple Rules … Complex Behaviour’ is the title of the videotape accompanying the Santa Fe Institute’s 1994 Artificial Life programme, in which researchers simulated life in a computer programme. This title can be thought of as the paradoxical slogan of the cybernetic phenomenon of ‘emergence’: planned rules generate an unplanned order. The material creation and knowledge of this complex order is thus always already bound up with an element of uncontrollability, incommunicability or immeasurability—what Wittgenstein called ‘the mystical’. This paper explores the ways in which the emergence of the mystical has become an animating force of neoliberal capitalism. The historical relation between cybernetics and neoliberalism is fairly well-documented. For Hayek, for instance, the market is a vast information processor, a complex order that is fundamentally incommunicable. Rather than engaging in socialist planning and interventionism, Hayek argues that the state should limit itself to controlling the parameters of the market. From these parameters, its ‘simple rules’, there emerges and evolves the decentralised, recursive anarchy of market forces, the ’complex behaviour’, that cannot be predicted, calculated or communicated in advance. This mystical element no longer signifies the boundaries of thoroughly rationalised plan-economies, but precisely the animating logic of our material political life.

In the post-Fordist production process, too, the mystical has taken centre stage. After capitalism incorporated the ‘artistic critique’ of the labour movement in the ‘new spirit of capitalism’, work now demands an emotional, artistic and passionate involvement of the worker. This post-Taylorist form of labour, which Lazzarato has called ‘immaterial labor’, is fundamentally uncodifiable and unmeasurable. The primary task of neoliberal governmentality now becomes instituting the ‘simple rules’ that will generate the ‘complex behaviour’ of workers that cannot be codified or designed in advance. As such, it embraces and exploits the constitutive role of the mystical in capitalist production.

Into the Mystic

ABSTRACT. Ludwig Wittgenstein writes in the Tractatus: ‘There is indeed the inexpressible. This shows itself; it is the mystical.’ What is the status of the mystical , determined as the inexpressible, in theory today? In response, I would say that there is too much discourse that pretends to cover over the encounter with the inexpressible by appealing to mathematics, materialism, or object-oriented ontology. In this talk, I will return to the concept of the le differend, first proposed by Lyotard in the early 80’s, in order to re-activate a certain number of protocols concerning the “inexpressible in the language of phrases,” which cannot not necessarily be reduced to mystical discourse.

14:00-15:30 Session 4D: Experimental Engagements with Text
Location: Doheny Beach B
DictionARy: an augmented reality intervention in a bricks and mortar library

ABSTRACT. DictionARy is an augmented reality artwork, made with software developer, Mark Hurry, and created for libraries. It continues Prophet's experiments with the form of dictionaries and her love of lexicography. In earlier artworks she lasercut dictionaries to visualise selected definitions of arguably the first dictionary by eighteenth century lexicographer, Samuel Johnson. The selection of words for those physically altered books showed how language is mutable and unstable, and this is emphasised in one of the DictionARY series which displays most popular words of the year from different years. Dictionary definitions are captured, live, from online dictionaries and displayed as 3D animated texts when library visitors point their mobile devices at graphic markers. Unfamiliar, weird and wonderful words are shown sliding down a column in the library lobby where most library visitors sit and chat, bringing rarely used words into the mixed reality space. The graphic markers that anchor each of the AR series of texts are site specific, with large adhesive vinyls placed on often overlooked elements of library architecture. The 3D animated texts are designed to relate to those vinyls and the real 3D space of their locations, playing with the local geometry of the library. The bricks and mortar library cannot contain texts which are shown through AR cascading out of the opening they have forced through a library wall, and emerging from a trompe l’oeil hole in the library’s floor.

NIMBUS: publishing experimental literature within a social media space

ABSTRACT. My earlier Augmented Reality poetry work “Hight Skwarek Battle” worked with elevation and elements of language on smartphones. It collapsed concepts of high and low culture and arts by placing serious and absurd poetic texts at different elevations across Washington D.C . Since then I have run a gallery off and on for ten years in my profile pic space on Facebook, and used Facebook events as self erasing happenings. The recent project NIMBUS began as an art and experimental literature journal that ran within Facebook and also parodied cliches of publishing and the assumed semiotics and usage of social media space. It was broken by Facebook. Now it is back as a book publisher within the bowels of social media. These works continue my conceptual writing practice that plays with high and low, prank and real, and space and text.

We are fragmented: Subjective mapping of other people’s speech for a digital artwork

ABSTRACT. ‘We are fragmented’ is a digital artwork made in response to research conducted in five countries by the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York. Researchers spoke with human rights defenders around issues of security and wellbeing. I was given access to a collection of fragmented transcriptions of these interviews, already organized according to an academic methodology, and commissioned to make a work about them. Reading through these transcribed and anonymized interviews, I was struck by the range and depth of emotions expressed. The speakers’ experiences resonated with me in their resemblance to emotions I feel as a practicing artist in Cairo. I made this work as I was completing the long-term project ‘A dictionary of the revolution,’ an experiment in polyvocal story-telling of the 2011 uprising in Egypt and its aftermath. I had collected over 200 hours of recorded conversation and woven transcriptions of this speech into 125 entries in ‘A dictionary’. Thinking through the questions and complications that arose when assembling a text entirely from other people’s voices, I chose to approach ‘We are fragmented’ by highlighting my own subjectivity. My work translates the material into visual patterns, through a system of classifying sentences by emotions expressed and evoked. What remains of the classification system are visual traces. By further including the source text for the work, the website also presents a new format for reading the research, where something beyond my subjectivity might be legible.

Pincelate: Tools and Machine Learning Models for Sound Poetry

ABSTRACT. Matching a word's sound to its spelling is more than just a set of rote grade school rules—it's a renewable source for creative expression. I present Pincelate: a system for producing expressive non-standard spellings of English words by "guiding" the probabilities of the decoding step in paired orthography-to-phonology and phonology-to-orthography sequence-to-sequence neural networks. Alongside a demonstration of the system's capabilities (automatic orthographically-constrained respellings; respelling with "hijacked" phonetics; phonetically-constrained nonsense word generation; "autozaumnification" with phonetic resizing) I offer a quantitative evaluation of the system's output with metrics of phonetic and orthography plausibility. I contextualize the tool both as a way to approach the operations of sound poetry in the poetic avant-garde and as a natural extension of my own work in this genre.

14:00-15:30 Session 4E: Visual Aesthetics: Experiments in Form
Location: Emerald Bay B
Metaphorically Seeing: Approximating Visuality in Deleuze and Godard

ABSTRACT. In his masterpiece film Blow-up (1966), Michelangelo Antonioni skillfully juxtaposes and contradicts the presence of a corpse that the protagonist Thomas—a reputed London fashion photographer—sees with his eyes and its disappearance in his photos, and challenges the possibility of certainty and reality of such modern visual media as photography and cinema. The camera seems to capture and reflect only whimsically the observed objects and by no means guarantees any immutability of visuality on the celluloid film, which, in turn, constantly initiates the dreaming-waking Cartesian doubts, or, reminds us of the approximate and potential-laden perimeter of visual articles that may take on the line of flight of becoming and alternating. In light of the attempt to situate visual images within the spectrum of actuality and potentiality, this essay seeks to address the technicalities of “seeing metaphorically” in the thoughts and experiments of Deleuze and late Godard. Though famously rejecting the existence of metaphor (such as in his conversation with Claire Parnet in Dialogue II or his definition of desiring-machine in Anti-Oedipus), Deleuze—I argue—posits a metaphor that is also metaphorical; in other words, he posits not a concrete but an imperceptibly unstable borderline composed of infinitely moving particles ready to participate in the processes of becoming. In his essay “What Children Say” (Essays Critical and Clinical), Deleuze invokes the story of Little Hans told first by Freud and emphasizes the tendency in children to form rhizomic cartographies with things they see, between “connectors and disconnectors of zones.” (62) The scope of visuality always includes a conjunctive surrounding that tends to move and connect everything within the frame. The metaphoricalization of visuality is turned into practical experimentation in Godard’s highly philosophical and innovative film Adieu au Langage (2008), in which half the story is narrated under the title Metaphor I and Metaphor II

The Scientific Method Meets the Experimental Film: the New Materialist Aesthetics of Shane Carruth

ABSTRACT. When acting in his own films, Shane Carruth resembles a scientist. He weaves in and out of the frame as a physicist does through a lab: pausing to check ongoing experiments but all the while appearing lost in a peculiar vision. In a 2008 interview with Carruth, Robert Koehler points out that his independent science-fiction (SF) films offer a refreshingly positive view of science that contrasts the dystopian tone of blockbuster SF; Carruth explains that, “I’m interested in the way that things interlock and work together… and science is the toolset I use to explore that” (14). This presentation in turn considers how Carruth’s two films, Primer (2004) and Upstream Color (2013) present a challenge to dominant narratives of scientific agency that privilege individualism by framing scientific development as less a product of willed invention than the unfolding of a variety of material and social forces already at play. Primer (2004) follows two engineers who invent a time travel device that consequently threatens the stability of their lives, while Upstream Color (2013) offers a more fantastical narrative involving the creation of a mind-control virus, transplanted through worms, that emotionally connects its human host to a pig. Though at first glance the two films approach SF from vastly different generic orientations, with Primer exhibiting the starkly factual tone of hard SF and Upstream Color the poetic but unrealistic trappings of fantasy, both films combine avant-garde aesthetics with unconventional plot structures in order to disrupt the prevailing narrative of scientific development as grounded within the individual scientist, instead foregrounding scientific apparatuses as entangled phenomena multiply intertwined with social, material, human, and nonhuman forces. The underlying contention of this presentation will be that Carruth’s films offer an ideal point of departure from which to consider the posthuman treatment of agency

Intermedia as the Playground for Experimentalism: some point on a map of the history of the in-between.

ABSTRACT. Throughout the practice of experimentalist intermedia engagements the task is to determine coherence and consistency as emergent properties that do or do not arise from assemblage. In experimental engagements consistency and coherence are not about being without contradiction, but rather about how heterogeneous elements or objects hang together, or as Gilles Deleuze calls them, hodgepodges of interpenetrating bodies. It is in both the act of interpenetration and the aspects of becoming that precede these acts where Intermedia exists. This paper will consider how Intermedia as an experimental practices differs from other forms of knowledge-building or making – Intermedia should not be seen as a new form or a new media designation, but as something other, something that requires a different set of markers or metaphors for viewing: field, transitory configurations, patchwork, hybridity, fluidity, heterogeneity, and collage. Intermedia as a process or creative act should be seen as part of an almost 80 year long stance in the arts that questions the primacy of cognitive understandings over other forms of “knowing.” Party of an intermedial practice seeks to re-balance the relationship between the intellectual and the physical and to introduce a variety of diverse practices that are engaged with directness, immediacy and experience and include a diverse range of people/elements such as the French symbolist writer Alfred Jarry the creator of King Ubu and Pataphysics; the Romanian poet and one of the founders of Dada, Tristian Tzara; the ex-patriot Lithuanian George Maciunas, principal organizer of the Fluxus group; French theoretician and filmmaker, Guy Debord, and many others. This presentation will explore a variety of such work and consider it as part of an ongoing attempt to establish a footing for creation and experimental practices that is human-centered but external to the domains of designated media and predetermined results.

Koyaanisqatsi: Experimentalism, Film, and Posthuman Experience

ABSTRACT. Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi is a particularly powerful example of how experimental film can present possible aspects of Posthuman experience. According to Cary Wolfe, Posthumanism “forces us to rethink our taken-for-granted modes of human experience”; either “by recontextualizing them in terms of the entire sensorium of other living beings,” or “by (paradoxically, for humanism) acknowledging that [a human being] is fundamentally a prosthetic creature that has coevolved with various forms of technicity and materiality, forms that are radically ‘not-human’ and yet have nevertheless made the human what it is” (What is Posthumanism, 25). Posthuman experience in the latter sense—as shaped by the technology whose use partly defines our humanity—has been explored by the artform of film from its very inception. Film has always experimented with the compositional opportunities the technology of film-making has afforded, and altered the very foundations of human experience—the perception of space and time—in the process. In Buster Keaton’s impossible worlds, for instance, the characters' experience is shaped by the logic of the spatial and temporal elisions inherent in framing and editing. Arguably, formally innovative film has an intrinsic potential to reveal the possibilities of Posthuman experience. Renewed scholarly interest in Reggio’s neo-formalist film in recent years has been powered by a rediscovery of aesthetic form as an agent of onto-empirical transformation, especially with regard to our ways of being in, and aware of, our environment. The film shows environments that humans create or destroy as entangled. Its technologically enhanced gazes, altered temporalities, and recursive rhythms reveal experience as moving, beyond human control, on a planetary scale. It thus reaches for a Posthuman “sensorium,” such as Wolfe envisions, and also foreshadows Bruno Latour’s view of agency in the Anthropocene, where the earth, awakened by humanity’s ill-conceived entrepreneurism, prepares for its destruction.

14:00-15:30 Session 4F: Public Amateurs: Re-searching and With-holding as Art Practice
Location: Emerald Bay C
Collaborative structures and methods for solidarity

ABSTRACT. This talk will focus on collaborative projects and creating a non hierarchical structure for participating in and documenting our communities. I will discuss my role in solidarity with four artists working in progressive art studios in Southern California, and creating a community made documentary as well as a podcast in which my partner and I work with our community to speak about illness and primary relationships. Joy and love are critical frameworks in investigating illness as well as method of critique in which both can create space for uniquely abled bodies. Through the usage of subjective cameras, sound and deep negotiations in decision making it is with earnest that the work lies within viscerality and embodied experience. I will discuss anthropological and ethnographic methods in my role as interlocutor. It is also import to divest from a history of either non representation of uniquely abled bodies or one of the aesthetics of optimism in which bodies are not given the dignity of failure. It is my aim to track collaborative methods of investigation that stem from queer community driven media projects such as Paper Tiger TV and Dyke TV as a point of departure as well as theoretical frameworks that stem from Lana Lin’s Freud’s Jaw, Lauren Berlant’s Cruel Optimism, and the work of Christina Crosby.

Intergenerational Intersections

ABSTRACT. Bloodline is an anchor to identity, as it cannot be changed—blood serves as truth. Understanding the past is a source of illumination; or rather, it provides us with what we may think constitute our identity. Investigating family history exposes new disruptions and missing pieces, revealing more questions than answers. I am interested in how our lives are interwoven within a complicated history through the use of family archives. My work explores ruptures in personal and broader histories of war, displacement, absence, destruction, memory, silence, migration, and death. I gravitate toward gaps, holes, and missing information, which show that our lives do not necessarily follow in a linear or progressive pattern, but instead are complexly layered. How can we imagine the lives of our ancestors in new and meaningful ways? How can we reinvent our lives, our pasts, our narratives? By re-representing archival materials through image and text, I create a system of symbols that attribute new meaning to familiar icons.

The lyrical film, corporeal mime, and the dad life

ABSTRACT. Corporeal mime is an aspect of physical theater whose objective is to place drama inside the moving human body, rather than to substitute gesture for speech as in pantomime. But how do we know when drama inhabits within ourselves or others-- and importantly, how does it manifest and express outwardly? I am exploring this subject through the lense of sculptural & lyrical film because of its ability to express materially (temporal celluloid), in chance/unpredictability and in a nonlinear construction. Reflecting on methods of practice, corporeal mime strategies, the face of Garbo (Barthes), and my own lived fatherhood experience, my presentation will be a look back on most recent video/installation projects, to show what has gotten me here and looking forward to my thesis project (Spring 2020) that will poetically propose ways in which the inward life of drama is expressed outwardly in the body. As Greta Garbo once said, “If I am by myself, my face will do things I cannot do with it otherwise.” What might our faces be doing, when we are by ourselves?

Nominal Landscaping: Troubling Waters in Little Egypt

ABSTRACT. “[Southern Illinois] has been called Egypt since the rugged winters of 1824 and 1831-32, when northerners journeyed south to buy corn and seed, imagining themselves as the sons of Jacob, who went “down to Egypt to buy corn” in Genesis 42. After 1832 the term Egypt came into general use, as people enjoyed thinking that they had settled in a land of plenty sanctioned by Scripture, though the soil was actually thin compared to the rest of Illinois. In 1837 the town of Cairo (pronounced Kerro), was chartered at the Nile-like delta where the Ohio joins the Mississippi; Karnak and Thebes followed, and many Biblical names, Palestine, Lebanon, Mt. Carmel, Eden, Goshen, Olive Branch, Herod, even a Sodom that vanished early in [the 20th] century.”

This opening paragraph of Darcy O’Brien’s 1989 true-crime book Murder in Little Egypt succinctly puts forth the most widely-accepted origin story for this strange nicknaming of a Midwestern locale. I am interested in attempting to explicate the operativity of the moniker/metonym (Little) Egypt, and ascertaining how it fits into or bucks with larger frameworks of the nineteenth-century Anglo-Christian American identification and obsession with biblical narrative, as well as American Egyptomania. Considering the (re)naming of places as a kind of ideological landscaping practice (but with veritable material ramifications), I will focus on specific histories of Cairo, IL, posing questions regarding the legacy and pervasive monumentality of racism and settler-colonialism in relation to regional folklore.

14:00-15:30 Session 4G: Counter-flesh: Experimenting at the Margins of Biology and Axiology
Location: Doheny Beach A
Exorcising Phantasms: Mimetic Desire and (Re)Creative Failure

ABSTRACT. Just like filial imprinting birds of a given species may imprint upon creatures of another species and upon non-living forms, the mimetic desires of members of our own species, Homo sapiens, may be mediated by creatures of other species and by non-living forms. For instance, if my mimetic desire is mediated by a bird that I encounter and I take this bird for my role model, I may endeavor to learn how to fly an aeroplane and, thus, produce in myself the bird’s most stereotypical characteristic, a capacity for flight. Another example, if my mimetic desire is mediated by a mountain that I’ve seen off in the distance and I take this mountain for my rival, I may endeavor to climb to the peak of this mountain and speak of conquering its height. My presentation will explore the proposition that our awareness of our “phantasms,” as Pierre Klossowski termed them, is heightened when our memetic desires are mediated by entities to which we bear little to no resemblance. My hypothesis, however, is that it is our failure, and not our success, in emulating and rivaling radically different entities that leads to a heightened awareness of our “phantasms”—which is also to say that our “phantasms” are made most apparent to us when the differences between ourselves and those others whom we take for our role models and rivals are such that our attempts to emulate and rival these others are absurd attempts. Rather than a generally informative discussion or an effective demonstration of the hypothesis above, my presentation, an interlude in the context of a larger panel on the notion of “counter-flesh”, will be an interactive and affective dramatization of the hypothesis above.

DIY homunculi?; Or, the envious reproductive politics of alchemy and artificial life

ABSTRACT. From Frankenstein to Fullmetal Alchemist, popular narratives remain haunted by disturbing myths of alchemical reproduction. For example, the homunculus—that all-knowing dwarf born of a flask—an under studied predecessor to images of ectogenesis today. Gena Corea (1985) raises these aesthetic concerns to the level of ethical stakes: “In the modern world of bioengineering and genetic wizardry, the ever growing possibility of ectogenesis holds no less a grip on our visual sensibility, even if its explicit association with alchemy has been lost…. The wellsprings of these dreams or nightmares run deeper than any modern bioethicist or free-market promoter of biotechnology can possibly imagine” (301-302). Central to my investigation of the homunculus legend are the following three areas of overlapping analysis. First, a range of sources, including recent historiographical debates alleging the misogyny of a corpus of pseudo-Paracelsian texts describing how to create clairvoyant homunculi from distilled masculinity and monstrous basilisks from distilled femininity (Ball 2011; Campbell 2010; Newman 2009; Vickers 2008; Newman 2005; Florescu 1975). Second, primary and secondary literature surrounding the concept of “womb envy,” proposed in feminine psychology by Dr. Karen Horney in the early twentieth century, and later addressed in anthropology, women’s studies, and contemporary psychoanalysis (Bayne 2011; Carter 2008; Silver 2007; Miletic 2002; Baruch 1988; Johnson 1982; Horney 1967; Bettelheim 1962). Third, the axiological ingenuity of scholars who have explored the risk of reproductive injustices posed by ectogenetic birth in light of the countless stories of men who have wished for a womb of their own—stories that betray the uncanny spectre of an *envious* masculinity desiring the “magic of maternity” (Aristarkhova 2012; Newman 2005; Nummedal 2001; Rowen 1992; Baruch 1988; Corea 1985; Allen and Hubbs 1980). Rather than appealing to the mode of a formal literary study, my approach will remain speculative, interdisciplinary, and *perseveratively* experimental.

We Are All Pragmatics Here: How Biohacking has been attenuated and then flipped through normalization

ABSTRACT. In this contribution, I propose to report on some results of a research program on Do it Yourself Biology (DiYBio hereafter) in the San Francisco Bay Area, Austria and Europe in 2016-17. During the Fall of 2016, I visited the Counter Culture Labs in Oakland, Biocurious in Sunnyvale, Indiebio and the Impossible Lab in San Francisco, and OLGA in Graz, Austria. I then participated in the Biohackers gathering at CERN (Geneva, Switzerland) in the Spring of 2017. I have been following “the DiYBio scene” since then. This project focuses on two main goals: (1) describe empirically the sites and practices of DiYBio as experimental engagement which fundamentally question the articulation of citizen action, techno-science (as biotech), liberal economics and politics and (2) conceptualize and theorize these new forms of association within civil society in relation to the tensions generated by the liberal doctrine. Hence, my central question can be enunciated as follows: How and in which ways do DiYBio practices and discourses deploy themselves as technoscientific forms where economic and political freedoms appear to be in tension with each other? Such tensions have already been discussed in the literature (e.g. Delfanti 2013). As Christopher Kelty also wrote in 2013, “The epistemology of free software is the epistemology of liberalism updated—not neo-liberalism, but a liberalism of the 21st century, questioning institutions (like intellectual property) and configurations of power (like the financial sector or the Hollywood-Silicon Valley-Advertising complex) through reform and reconstruction.” The guiding intuition for this research is that this proposition might also be valid in the case of DiYBio, but remains to be qualified. This is exactly what I intend to do in this contribution.

Life Touching Life; a video web series on non-binary and multi-species consciousness

ABSTRACT. Are you ready to shift the Western paradigm of evolutionary hierarchy into multi-species stories of speculative healing? Set in the non-violent future where all living beings are treated equally, my presentation showcases Life Touching Life, a video web series depicting what a non-binary and multi-species world might look like. As a former marine biologist turned visual artist, my intention is to celebrate the queerness of nature while offering an opposition to economy-focused hierarchies of Western capitalism. Using a talk show model combined with musical interludes and digital animation, a half-woman / half-flower host facilitates storytelling from animals, plants, and humans (and other organisms) who share (or show) personal stories of how they overcame the roles industrial civilization prescribed for them. The stories are based on factual accounts (from living sources, usually human) and fictional stories (that use empirical science woven with anthropomorphization). The half-woman / half-flower host is created from digital and physical components: every inch of her skin is green-screened into high-res imagery of photosynthesis. Her physical costume is a custom Peony neck piece with hand-sculpted roots for hands and feet. She shares her own story of for-profit genetic mutation. The set is a 3D gridded workspace that transforms into each creature's habitat AND is able to translate their "language". For transitions between stories, a particular object in the habitat is focused on and zoomed into, creating interconnected metaphors for time, scale, and even consciousness. Ultimately, my goal is to bring awareness to the complications of capitalist-induced climate change and to the economy-focused hierarchies that oppress all living beings. More subtly, my aim is to give Animal Studies, Queer Theory, and Ecofeminism a platform to be shared and enjoyed, and through time, even understood and lived. Screening and essay are presented with "Counter-flesh: Experimenting at the margins

14:00-15:30 Session 4H: Shakespeare’s Engagements: Aesthetics, Community, Practice
Location: Moss Cove B
"Macbeth's Bubbles"

ABSTRACT. What does opening a conversation between recent strands of cosmopolitical thinking (Isabelle Stengers, Peter Sloterdijk, Michel Serres) and Shakespeare’s plays reveal about questions of community? This paper responds to this question by offering a reading of Macbeth’s derangement or thickening of atmosphere. It does so by taking its cue from Banquo’s observation concerning the three witches, that “the earth hath bubbles, as the water has,” and attends to the play’s preoccupation with bubbles or what Sloterdijk calls “morpho-immunological” structures. Key here proves Francis Bacon’s description of boys blowing bubbles in Thoughts on the Nature of Things as a topos of experimental engagement with the physics of substances which, in his words “attract” and “repel.” For Bacon, bubble blowing serves as a habit-based scene of bodily training in which the bubble blower has to modify behavior to produce a bubble that endures or which generates something yet more stable, a foam. Macbeth describes a similar scene on a grander scale, the witches’ prophecies, their bubbling cauldron, causing both Macbeth and Banquo’s sense of the future to inflate, though quickly the play becomes an exercise in how to stabilize a depleting atmosphere. Given that recent plotting of our historical moment (the Anthropocene) tends to read like the script of a species-wide de casibus tragedy—the Wheel of Fortune turns and humanity and its creations fall—what does Shakespeare’s treatment of a tragic hero who attempts to arrest the wheel’s turn have to offer us now? What’s to be learned from a play that transforms a de casibus tragedy into something like a metaphysical vacuum pump? The answer, I venture, lies back on the heath with those three experimental-stealth-scientists, the witches, who “should,” as Banquo tells us, “be women,” and who certainly, in Stengers’ terms “make a fuss.”

Beyond Adaptation: Care and Cure in Shakespearean Drama and Contemporary Story Ballet

ABSTRACT. Themes of care and cure run through Shakespearean drama, suggesting therapeutic virtues for both the creators of drama and their audiences. Shakespearean therapies, such as Edgar and Gloucester’s sojourn at Dover Cliff, involve a kinesthetic as well as a verbal and imagistic dimension. Edgar’s gambit is a kind of theater game, playing with perceptual alteration, guided fantasy, and trust-falling to take his father through the vanishing point of a willed suicide in order to prepare him for a different kind of death on the other side. Shakespeare scholar Julia Lupton will establish the kinesthetics of care and cure in Shakespeare, and then choreographer Jehbreal Jackson will share scenes from his film project, Canon, a story ballet that incorporates elements of Shakespearean dramaturgy into a contemporary urban setting organized around rehab as space and process. A theorist and practitioner of classical dance rendered startlingly contemporary, Jackson uses crafted physicality, music, and the cinematic image to rebuild the inner joys that have been destroyed by toxic media flows and to topple the monuments built upon the oppressed. Julia Reinhard Lupton is professor of English and co-director of the Shakespeare Center at UC Irvine. She is the author or co-author of five books on Shakespeare and a former Guggenheim Fellow. Jehbreal Jackson is an MFA student in Dance at UC Irvine. Jackson studied ballet at Julliard and has performed with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. His MFA thesis is entitled “Story Ballet Cinema: Choreographing Cognition,” which accompanies his story ballet film project, Canon.

With a Kiss I Die: Romeo and Juliet, the Queer Living-dead, and the Technology of Love

ABSTRACT. Love balances on the edge of the timely and untimely in Shakespeare’s plays, often tipping one way towards comic accident and the other towards tragedy. The practice of love takes, makes, and plays with time. Love is also, as Dominic Pettman argues, a technique of belonging that is intimately wrapped up with the technologies that speed up or slow down space and time as well as our capacity for connection and community. This paper responds to the question of what happens to love when it encounters inhuman time-- the very fast and the very slow—through a discussion of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Ronnie Khalil’s genre-bending queer vampire film adaptation of it, With a Kiss I Die. Drawing on Pettman’s exploration of eros as techne, Jack Halberstam and other’s theorizations of queer time, as well as Joanna Zylinska’s imagining of the feminist counterapocalypse I suggest that it is the inhumanness of both time and love that allow for love to be human. Changing the scales of time changes articulations of love as well as who or what loves and is allowed to love. At the intersection of the technology of love and inhuman time, I argue, arise novel and alternative forms of community, belonging, and desire that exist in the inhuman interstices of time gone unnoticed on human scales and that deploy love as a tool of forming and imagining alternate subjectivities. Though we may not yet be vampire Juliets, increasingly life in the Anthropocene is a life of inhuman rhythms and times. What Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Khalil’s adaptation of it seem to offer is a way to continue refashioning love as a tool of self-building and character-building in an ever-evolving temporal environment.

14:00-15:30 Session 4I: ROUNDTABLE: Diagrams of Power: Non-extractive methods in creative and research practice

How do we help create projects without reproducing logics of colonialism and capitalism? Extraction — fossil fuels and minerals from the ground, profit from people’s labour, or data from residents and users — works against reciprocity or accountability. As producers of creative projects, research, and counter-narratives what are the issues, concepts, and practices that help us create mutually beneficial experiences and relationships? This roundtable discussion will share experiences in projects where the relationships between producers and users and audience — relational diagrams of power — embody these principles of justice-focused creative practice.

This discussion will use the Diagrams of Power exhibition and book project — which brings together the work of designers, artists, cartographers, geographers, researchers, and activists who create diagrams to tell inconvenient stories that upset and resist the status quo —  as a point of departure. Selected Diagrams of Power participants will join the conversation via videoconference. 

Diagrams of Power includes works by Joshua Akers, Burak Arikan, Josh Begley, Joseph Beuys, Alexis Bhagat, Vincent Brown, Bureau d’Études, Teddy Cruz, Department of Unusual Certainties, Peter Hall, Alex Hill, W.E.B. DuBois, Patricio Dávila, Catherine D’Ignazio, Forensic Architecture, Fonna Forman, Terra Graziani, Iconoclasistas, Lucas LaRochelle, Eliana MacDonald, Julie Mehretu, Lize Mogel, Ogimaa Mikana, Margaret Pearce, Laura Poitras, Philippe Rekacewicz, Sheila Sampath, and Visualizing Impact.

Roundtable discussants will include: Katherine BeharProfessor of New Media Arts at Baruch College and author of Object-Oriented Feminism; Maya Desai, Chair, Environmental Design, OCAD University and Senior Urban Designer, Moriyama Teshima ArchitectsDavid Familian, Artistic Director & Curator, Beall Center for Art + Technology; and  Jane Prophet, Associate Dean for Research, Creative Work, and Strategic Initiatives, Stamps School of Art & Design, University of Michigan.

Sponsored by UCI's Emergent Media + Design initiative.

14:00-15:30 Session 4J: ROUNDTABLE: The Future of Microbes/Microbiomes Scholarship

Over the past decade, the cultural narratives surrounding microbial life have changed dramatically. Scientists have increasingly documented the expansive scope and variety of microorganisms associated with the human body—our microbiome—and their essential contributions to health. In parallel, journalists, artists, and writers have extensively and publicly explored the imaginative possibilities of what it means to be human in a body teeming with microorganisms. To many, the concept of the microbiome upends reductive, antagonistic views of the relationship between humans and microbes, instead revealing that we are superorganisms. In this roundtable discussion, we begin from the recognition that the microbiome is no longer new. Scientists are shifting away from simply identifying microorganisms affiliated with the human body, toward the study of community dynamics amongst the microbiota. At the same time, the human microbiome is increasingly being being instrumentalized. Our roundtable discussion is built around a single question: What is the future of our field? Participants will explore this question from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives. Discussants include: Adam Bencard; François-Joseph Lapointe; Jennifer Saltmarsh; Kym Weed; and Melissa Wills.

Location: Doheny Beach D
14:00-15:30 Session 4K: ROUNDTABLE: Art, Life, and Chess: Reunion Revisited

In 1968 Marcel Duchamp and John Cage did a performance called “Reunion.” They assembled a group of their friends to both witness the perform and be part of this celebration. The chessboard for Reunion used cutting-edge technology designed and developed for Cage by Lowell Cross. Reunion is an event without a score. The game works as an indeterminate experience: as a game of chess is played, the moves of the players on the board trigger a composition, and the sound is distributed to eight speakers surrounding the audience. The John Cage Trust recreated the chessboard. Come experience John Cage’s chessboard with a score composed by Alex Joseph Lough. This is a unique opportunity to experience this groundbreaking interactive sound work.

15:45-17:15 Session 5A: Game Studies Stream: Ludic/Experimenting
Location: Emerald Bay DE
Literary Ludics and Queer Desire

ABSTRACT. Literary ludics describes literary objects with game-like or playful qualities, including puns and anagrams, as well as ludic objects, like video games, that have literary qualities. This project explores non-digital literary ludics, like the poetry of Gertrude Stein, alongside an archive of text-based games authored in Twine, an HTML scripting language. Despite the century that separates the authorship of these works, they share two ludic structures: “spatial linking,” or the figurative or literal negotiation of space; and “encoded content,” or the presence of non-semantic text. Borrowing from Roland Barthes’ The Pleasure of the Text, I argue that these ludic structures, like Barthes’s jouissance, draw attention to the ways that language can both obscure and communicate desire, a process likened by Barthes to cruising. This paper takes an experimental approach to literary and games analysis, offering a reading Stein’s manuscript papers for Tender Buttons while also remixing it into a Twine game. I compare my reading of Stein to the work of contemporary authors Christine Love, Anna Anthropy, and Lydia Neon, noting that in the technological shift from written manuscript to networked media, links turn into hyperlinks, and encoded meaning becomes code. This project hopes to contribute to a growing archive of objects we might consider as both “queer” and “games” through the processes of criticism and critical making, ultimately offering a Twine game that explores literary ludics and the relationship between queer desire, legibility, and precarity.

Fluxus Play Before Games: Experimental Play as Cultural Technique

ABSTRACT. Following media theorists in the German tradition—notably Thomas Macho and Bernhard Siegert—this paper furthers the exploration of how Kulturtechniken (cultural techniques) “cultivate” relationships with and understandings of the world through repeated practice. As Thomas Macho writes: “Cultural techniques—such as writing, reading, painting, counting, making music—are always older than the concepts that are generated from them. People wrote long before they conceptualized writing or alphabets” (173) and, of course, people play before games. This paper contends, building on emergent and recently translated research at the intersection of Anglo-American game studies and Germanophone media theory (Pias 1999/2017, Barker 2019), that play be usefully figured as a cultural technique—a non-essential practice not reducible to games which forms and informs modes of living, thinking, and interacting in the world. Different cultures (broadly conceived) enact different modes of play and in thinking experimental play, we can do much worse than turn to the Fluxus community. To that end, this paper takes George Brecht’s art games as exemplary Fluxus works for thinking through how iterative experimental play practices are productive of both new forms and relations. Taking a media theoretical stance, I understand the possibilities of play to be inherently tied to their medial affordances. Experimental play attempts to discover medial parameters of symbolic, technical, and institutional systems—the “program” in Flusser’s terms (e.g. for writing: grammatical rules, typewriters, the publishing industry)—and exhaust them. I argue that Fluxus play amounts to this systemic testing, pushing the affordances of media into “adjacent possible” worlds (Kauffman). In this way, beyond experimental game rules, I contend figuring play as cultural technique opens new avenues for thinking the evolution of form. To conclude, I suggest we find a correlative cultural technique in video game “glitching.”

Nonsovereign Games: Experiments with Control and Consent in Liz Ryerson’s Problem Attic

ABSTRACT. Media theorist Alexander Galloway has shown how video games are a cultural medium that expresses the dynamics of the regime of power that Gilles Deleuze has called the control society. In place of what Foucault calls the disciplinary society, the control society transitions from closed “molds” to open-ended processes of “modulation,” from the enclosure of the “factory” to the networked “corporation,” and from the limited space-time of the “school” to “perpetual training.” Video games are distinctive, in part, because of the ways that they experiment with control systems, including at the level of interfaces and gameplay dynamics. This paper argues that, alongside this impulse toward sovereign control, digital games also make available dynamics of nonsovereignty. A category of digital games that most effectively animates not only the formal but also the sociopolitical dimension of nonsovereign play is what we might call queer games that use technical systems to explore nonnormative ways of being, often within zones of gender and sexuality. The queer game on which this paper focuses is Problem Attic, a 2013 platformer game designed by Liz Ryerson. In Problem Attic, algorithmic control becomes palpable, abstractly yet intensely at the scale of affect, through the relation of consent. In the game, gameplay dynamics complicate the treatment of consent within the control society, as well as within the contemporary order of neoliberalism. Through its use of game form and processes of play, Problem Attic generates an experience of systems of control and a complex experiment with consent.

Playing with Oneself: Sports, Games, and Experiments

ABSTRACT. Suspended between simulating bodily action and tactical organization, the two videogame franchises of FIFA and Football Manager represent two different visions of 'gamifying' a sport. While the game makers hype every single installment of these games using the familiarly trite rhetoric of realism, a quick look at the way these games are received and played tells a far more complex story, one where questions of realism are actively undermined by practices of experimentation and tinkering (in order to produce better soccer tactics or to create a better version of oneself, or even to simulate socio-economic/political futures of the world). By focusing on the interactions between fan communities and real-life soccer players in UK and Germany, this paper shall investigate a landscape in which soccer superstars and pro-FIFA players all find themselves entangled in the question of who gets to play what. The distinction between gameplay and roleplay in these communities, then, becomes increasingly fractured, with the video games emerging as a playspace for learning how to play with oneself on the one hand and playing one's own boss on the other. These metagames follow few known rules of identity, if any, as pro-video game players play (both video games and on-the-pitch games) incessantly with pro-soccer players and their fans. Putting scholarship from game studies (Stephanie Boluk, Patrick Lemieux) and media studies (Henry Jenkins, Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin) in conversation with Michel Foucault's ideas about technologies of the self, this paper argues for the emergence of new forms of ludic selfhood as a result of these productive interplays between bodily desires and social subjectivizations.

15:45-17:15 Session 5B: The Power Dynamics of Infrastructure: Imperialism, Distribution, Standardization
Location: Emerald Bay A
Around the Wire: Telegraphic Infrastructure and Electromagnetic Field Theory

ABSTRACT. This paper traces a connection between gutta percha, the natural latex used nearly exclusively as insulation for nineteenth-century British telegraph cables, and the development of electromagnetic field theory. I use field theory’s insistence that energy in telegraph cables is located around, rather than within, the conducting wire to argue that telegraphic infrastructure is embedded in the knowledge, resources, and cultures of Southeast Asian indigenous communities. Global telegraphy projects relied on enormous quantities of gutta percha, an enigmatic, foreign material that underpinned cable insulation. Gutta percha’s limited quantities, topographically complex locations, and resistance to agricultural domestication necessitated British reliance on indigenous knowledge, insulating native populations from normative core-periphery violence. In this way, I relocate the representation of the telegraph to metaphorical and physical fields "around the wire," studying the agency not just in the minds and bodies of those sending and receiving messages, but in the infrastructure underpinning the network, itself. 

Re-imagining Infrastructure

ABSTRACT. Infrastructure shapes the daily life of billions of people in both obvious and subtle ways. Whether it’s the freeway, the electrical outlet or the water at the tap of a sink, the often overlooked forms of systemic and structural organization determine so much of contemporary life. As climate change continues to radically reshape the global environment, can people reasonably expect to have regular garbage collection or automatic access to electricity? What might an alternative infrastructure look like – one that relies neither on a techno-libertarian vision nor a bureaucratic and managerial organizational logic. Is it possible to imagine a form of democratic global infrastructure that is responsive to basic human needs and attentive to the climate crisis? What would that look like and how would it work on a technical level? Can machine learning and artificial intelligence be harnessed to re-imagine infrastructure?

My paper reflects on my efforts to map and visualize contemporary infrastructure in Los Angeles in an integrated way and model a variety of infrastructural technologies of the future. Using machine learning and custom algorithms to analyze current infrastructural technologies, I develop three-dimensional models that speculate on the form infrastructure may yet take.

Giving form to a series of models that conceive of the future of infrastructure puts the question of social organization at the forefront of this technological transformation and aims to develop a geographically specific model that can be adapted to other locations.

Re-imagining Infrastructure uses research and publicly accessible data to create a time based map of contemporary infrastructure in the city of Los Angeles. This map takes the form of a website that regularly updates based on changing information related to transportation patterns, energy consumption, water use, waste generated

Experimental Practices of Siphoning and Sabotage: Invisible Man and U.S. Electricity Theft

ABSTRACT. In the prologue of Invisible Man, the Invisible Man steals electricity from Monopolated Light & Power. He conceives of his electricity theft as a form of sabotage. Local news footage from CBS Philly and WXYZ-TV Detroit cast electricity theft as a “shocking crime.” My presentation focuses on Invisible Man’s electrified imaginary, while moving back and forth between it and real world sites of electricity theft. Electricity theft is an experimental practice that intervenes in, and reimagines, current systems, yet must also always operate in stealth mode due to the U.S.’s privatization of resources and investment in racial capitalism. Fundamentally, I conceive of electricity theft as a practice of speculative futurism that resists the socially and environmentally unjust generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity in the United States. My analysis of both news stations’ representations of energy stealing intervenes in their sensationalization of risk by recasting electricity theft as electricity siphoning. Siphoning is an important concept because it concatenates. Defined by Speculate This!, “concatenation is not only a ‘linking together’ or the ‘state of being joined’ … but also an ensemble of actions we might characterize as ‘circulation’ or ‘communication’ that facilitates flows — goods, people, information, energies.” Siphoning gestures to this concatenation because once a siphon has been started via suction, it continues to flow unaided. My literary investigation of Invisible Man focuses on his intentional creative misuse of electrical technology. Grisha Coleman and Thomas F. DeFantz write that “Afrofuturism is more often theorized through creative practice … making-with-technology is a distinctive part of this practice, which also links physical experience to our technologies.” The Invisible Man’s creative reworking of electrical infrastructure uncovers the uneven resource distribution, racial capitalism, and environmental racism imbedded in its design while simultaneously displaying the ways that increasing one’s conductivity is an act of resistant

Spectacular Grammar: Infrastructure as a Universal Language

ABSTRACT. This paper proposes that information technology (IT) infrastructure, as a mediator of communication, is formulating a universal language. It shows historic efforts to create universal language via avant garde filmmaking, explains how international standardization organizations and tech developers are universalizing tools, and finally offers strategies, proposed by artists and technologists, for navigating a world where everyone speaks infrastructure. As Marshall McLuhan inferred in his 1964 essay, “The Medium is the Message,” technology becomes inseparable from the messages it transmits, adding another layer of meaning to what is communicated; language, in turn, starts to be shaped around the tools that facilitate it. IT infrastructure thus is not just a tool to communicate, but is part of language itself. The idea of universal language reaches as far back as biblical times, with the story of the Tower of Babel, but this paper foregrounds history by looking at avant garde filmmaking pioneered by Viking Eggeling and Hans Richter. They co-wrote a manifesto, “Universelle Sprache” (Universal Language) and tried to prove the possibility of creating a universal language with their abstract short films that discarded narratives in favor of shapes and sounds that could theoretically be understood by any viewer. IT has fostered these global connections, and due to international standards--set by 3 organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, which represent over 160 countries--IT infrastructure in Los Angeles seamlessly integrates with infrastructure in Jakarta. International standardization, however, is mostly developed by Silicon Valley, which has a disproportionate amount of influence over IT standardization. Universal language is thus shaped by only a few voices. As universal language develops, people need to master the spectacular grammar of IT. Some artists and technologists have began to tackle this dialect, and this paper concludes by previewing the work of Mindy Seu, Allied Media Projects, Feminst.AI, and ColorCoded.

15:45-17:15 Session 5C: Biofables: Biography Illuminates Biology
Location: Doheny Beach C
The Vortex: Adventures in Performing Biography

ABSTRACT. Visual artist Meredith Tromble discusses The Vortex, a dance performance based on stories from scientists who are also women, people of color, or gender non-conforming. From astrobiologists to zoologists, the biographies of these accomplished researchers are rife with stories of incomprehending, unfriendly or even harassing research cultures, as well as tales of perseverance and insight. In collaboration with choreographer Donna Sternberg and geobiologist Dawn Sumner, Tromble collects first-person stories from scientists, makes drawings compressing essential life themes into visual images, and works with Sternberg and her company as they translate the emotions from the stories and images into dance. A dynamic, swirling vortex of story drawing fragments acts as a symbol of the subjective social currents swirling around the “objective” work of the researchers. Conducting biography through nonverbal forms is, in and of itself, an experimental engagement with people who break away from traditional “scripts” of what it means to be a scientist. The complex, interdisciplinary development of the ongoing performance has raised a number of questions about the use of individual lives as "fables" or stories exemplifying generalized ideas. For example, the first stages of the ongoing, multi-year work, which predated the rise of "me, too" stories from science on social media, encountered the domain tradition that scientists foreground their work, not their lives, in public forums. Creating a mutual exchange through which revealing moments were shared has been part of the work in both the initiation and presentation stages. The performance is followed by a post-performance discussion that invites audience members into conversation about the imagery, the stories, and their relevance to their own lives. The performance and the assemblage of creative and social processes around it explore social positioning, access, and question-finding through empathy, description, and commitment to contextual exploration of knowledge systems.

The Jollies: A Biographical Artwork about Primatologist Alison Jolly

ABSTRACT. “The Jollies” is a biographical video artwork about the late primate scientist and conservationist Alison Jolly (1937-2014). Jolly was known for her pioneering theory on the evolution of social intelligence developed through her study of ring-tailed lemurs. Her scientific work, conservation efforts, and books drew worldwide attention to the unique ecosystem of Madagascar. Alison Jolly was one of Donna Haraway's subjects in her landmark science studies examination of the history of primatology, Primate Visions, as well as her recent book on environmental activism, Staying with the Trouble. Haraway offers a lens on the biography of scientists, the history of science generally and primatology specifically, in addition to fundamentally refiguring boundaries between human, animal and machine. In this presentation, I reflect on the process of making a biographical artwork about Jolly and her animal subjects, with special regard to Haraway’s influence through her texts and participation as an interviewee. The Jollies was commissioned for a 2016 show in which a group of women artists were asked to make artworks "inspired by a historical woman scientist." For the project, I interviewed Jolly's colleagues and daughter as well as Donna Haraway, animated their faces and voices to different animal characters, and made a four channel video installation; two pairs face each other as if in conversation. These many voices articulate the significance of Jolly's scientific discoveries as well as her career: group living over tool making as a driver for evolution, her description of a female dominant primate society, the role of play in learning, as well as her place in the first generation of women in the field of primatology and her development of community-based conservation. Monkeys, lemurs, and other nonhuman characters animate the conversation, producing reflection about humans as part of the primate order, social network, and ecosystem.

Archive and Extinction in Ann Hamilton's the common S E N S E

ABSTRACT. Ann Hamilton’s 2014 exhibition the common S E N S E presented blown up scans of study skins of amphibians, birds, and mammals from the Burke Natural History Museum’s collection, which she printed and hung in stacks of newsprint that covered gallery walls from floor to ceiling in a salon-style display. Details of feather, claw, fur, and beak rendered in the shallowest depth-of-field invited the visitor to view the animals with a level of intimacy that is optically uncommon in the natural world, while the undeniably dead folded talons and loosened skin conjured a feeling of melancholy that was reinforced in the warm mauve and cool blue of Hamilton’s digital palette. Visitors were invited to “collect” the pages in an act of tearing them away that would raise awareness of one’s ecological responsibilities, yet on opening day a “feeding frenzy” ensued as visitors depleted nearly the entire stock within reach, consuming them like the many other dematerialized, digital images that surround us in our daily lives. This paper will analyze Hamilton’s work in relation to the aesthetics and politics of animal display in natural history museums of the Gilded Age, while considering how her work responds to our current anxieties about extinction and the degradations of the Anthropocene. I will argue that her work replaces the unity and reassuring realism of traditional dioramas with an indeterminate archive that must be protected.

Biofables: Biography Illuminates Biology

ABSTRACT. This presentation will discuss The Mutable Archive, a multi-layered performance video project that speaks to renewed nationalistic obsessions with Othering and difference, such as racial profiling and gender bias, by demonstrating the fictitious foundations of the human taxonomy itself. A unique artistic strategy of this project involves interrogating the mechanics of storytelling and who speaks for those who are lost, particularly in the absence of verifiable archival material. Rather than follow conventional archival theory, the project prioritizes the relationship between each author/performer and their chosen subject while exposing how various narrative strategies can reveal the social and political challenges of the present.

The presentation will begin with an overview of my residency as a Francis C. Wood Fellow at the College of Physicians and Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, where I photographed an inventory of human specimens collected by 19th century Viennese anatomist, Dr. Josef Hyrtl for the study of comparative anatomy and physiognomy. Each photograph portrays a single specimen and post-mortem skull tattoo with an accompanying archive card, which details only partial information about the subject. With The Mutable Archive, invited collaborators write speculative narratives about subjects I photographed in Hyrtl’s collection. The scripts are each performed and recorded on 4K cinematic video, producing a series of richly textured vignettes that expose the roles of assumption and subjectivity in science. Nine commissioned writers – artists, musicians, scholars, historians, a medical ethicist, a philosopher, an opera singer, and a spiritual medium – each create a speculative biography for the subject of their choosing from the collection. Collaborators on this project include: Buzz Spector, Chelsea Knight, Shimon Attie, Victoria Vesna and Ellen K. Levy.

15:45-17:15 Session 5D: Urban Ecologies, Technologies, and Metaphors
Location: Doheny Beach B
Breathing with Others. The New Aesthetics of Air in Art and Architecture

ABSTRACT. Discussions about climate change often point towards a phenomenological problem. People in western industrial nations have little direct reliance on natural processes, lacking a sense for the direct significance of local consumption of resources and global consequences. Instead, digital networks regulate their climatic well-being. An increasing number of works in architecture and art involve different sense modalities to sensitize for our atmospheric environments. They have in common the focus on subjective lived experience. In my presentation I will look into projects at the intersection of art and architecture, which express climatic processes on scales that are usually outside of our every-day awareness. I will explore the aesthetics in works such as “Yellow Dust” or “Urban Algae Canopy”, as well as an experimental project I developed together with artists and designers. These works have in common a focus on the affective qualities of air as a medium for the complex relations between bodies in space. Breathing air, feeling wind on the skin, the smell of flowers – these experiences of being in the air are usually intimate and can – if connected to the dangers of pollution – have an eeriness to them. I will explore how air as a medium of experience can have different effects on the way we feel in and perceive a space and how an explication of air can lead to an attunement towards our environments and greater involvement with others we share the air with. My assumption is that this new aesthetics of atmospheres in spatial installations can heighten our sensitivity for ecological interdependencies in our environment and at the same time for the responsiveness of our bodies on the bio-chemical level.

Symphonies and the City: Using EEG Data Aggregation for Art and Urban Planning

ABSTRACT. Over the past decade, human elecrtoencephalography (EEG) has become a mobile, extra-laboratory technology capable, some claim, of mapping human brain signals while we’re on the move. In this presentation, I want to draw attention to EEG and some of the ways that the technology has and could help us rethink our metaphors for and conceptualizations of the brain. I will discuss two projects that make use of EEG for refiguring urban spaces. The first, Multimer, is a company whose slogan is “Better Decisions Based on Human Signals.” Their goal is to facilitate urban planning through the aggregation of data gathered from pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. The second, Conductar Moogfest, was a data/art installation in Asheville, NC intended to create an alternate urban landscape built from participants’ “neurological response to the environment” ( Both projects claim kinship with psychogeography and the dérive; but each might be better described as a neurogeography. In this presentation, I specifically argue that these projects redefine neurogeography as a process of externalized rather than structural brain mapping. In so doing, each project benefits from brainwave ideologies that enable and encourage the materiality of human signal mapping.

The Cultivated City

ABSTRACT. Urban life in the 21st century is immersed in the imperceptible waves of wireless media. Nowhere is this more so than in urban China, where a hyperdense network of mobile devices increasingly provides the abstract infrastructure of daily life. This paper explores the exteriority of this all-pervasive media atmosphere, focusing especially on the nonanthropomorphic frequencies of electromagnetic waves. Rather than conform to the scale and rhythms of human consciousness, wireless waves are now productive of a temporality that is beyond, underneath or outside the perceptual scale of human experience. We are blocked from the surrounding mediasphere because we are locked in a particular time scale, separated from our most intimate technologies because they traffic in the waves of a nonhuman time. Media scholars have analyzed this transcendental infrastructure with reference to a number of Western thinkers. This paper participates in this discussion by considering the work of one of China’s most important modern philosophers, Mou Zongsan. Mou’s work engages with Chinese modernity by offering a Buddhist inspired, new Confucian philosophy that contributes to the thought of Immanuel Kant. At the heart of Mou’s post-Kantian project is a focus on the practices of cultivation as a way of apprehending the noumenal world. ‘Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism could be called the philosophies of China, the three forms of practice in the East,’ writes Mou. ‘Confucian moral cultivation (xiuyang 修養) is practice; Daoist cultivation (xiulian 修煉) is practice; Buddhist precept, concentration, and wisdom (jie ding hui 戒定慧) is practice.…Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism … affirm practice as a way of becoming divine (chengshen 成神).’ In synthesizing media theory with the work of Mou Zongsan, this paper examines the embodied practices of the cyborgian entities attuned to the city’s wireless waves as they awaken to the alien vibrations within which contemporary life is increasingly immersed.

A Rhetoric of Transparency: Experimental Practice in Silicon Valley’s Utopia

ABSTRACT. From Parisian arcades to Apple stores, glass architecture has always reflected utopian visions. In 1914, science fiction writer Paul Scheerbart argued that the best way to “elevate culture” is by introducing glass architecture, “which lets in the lights of the sun, the moon, and the stars, nor merely through a few windows, but through every possible wall” (41). The Apple store on Fifth Avenue in New York, the SalesForce tower in San Francisco, and the King’s Cross Google campus in London are all modern examples of this lucid, open architectural spirit. In 2000, architectural historian Gwendolyn Wright wrote of the banality of Silicon Valley’s corporate buildings, but after emerging from lumbering brutalism, tech companies have embraced glass walls and open office plans. The often overwhelming sense of transparency in these towering structures reflects a desire to reveal corporate practices as ethical and to experiment towards future-oriented perspectives. A similar metaphor of transparency is also found in the architecture of computers. Anne Friedberg (2006) has explored the persistence of transparency through the development of the virtual window, which she argues mediates the bodily experience of the screen. Of course, these architectural representations also signal a transparency that conceals more than it reveals, both in terms of corporate functioning and in the functioning of physical devices. Facebook is famous for its privacy problems, Apple slows older iPhone models to prompt the purchase of new ones, and Google’s recent attempt at an ethics board fell apart before it even started. This presentation will explore the implications of claiming and performing transparency through experimental design principles (the architecture of buildings, devices, websites, policies), and will also examine how transparency also conceals the inner workings of internet platforms. Ultimately, I will argue that glass--both as an object but also a function--materializes transparency through experimental practice.

15:45-17:15 Session 5E: Individual Subjectivity and Interpretations of the Body in the Post-Digital Era.
Location: Emerald Bay B
Reading Visual Dissent in Claudia Rankine's Citizen

ABSTRACT. In “Showing Seeing,” W. J. T. Mitchell argues that “a dialectical concept of visual culture cannot rest content with a definition of its object as the social construction of the visual field, but must insist on exploring the chiastic reversal of this proposition, the visual construction of the social field” (171 emphasis original). Our social formations and our literary forms are shaped by seeing. My project interrogates the visual construction of the social field of citizenship by examining moments of visual excess in Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric (2014). In this collection of poetic prose, Rankine incorporates visual art, including works like Glenn Ligon’s Untitled: Four Etchings (1992) and David Hammons In the Hood (1993), to create a visual grammar of dissent that disidentifies with the visual politics of citizenship. These visual elements are more than an annotation or aside. They coalesce into their own visual grammar that creates friction within the text. While the text at large contemplates how racism is often compelled through acts of seeing, the visual elements powerfully assert the material presence of black subjectivity, interrupting the page and demanding that the reader see. I argue that the interruption and eruption of image in her work reveals citizenship as emergent through a troubling field of vision that marks some bodies as natural and invisible and others as particular and hypervisible. These visual grammars carve out an experimental, speculative aesthetic practice through which to challenge the coherence of the category of citizen and to reorient what belonging and community could look like.

Mediating Engagement: Interacting Desires in BLADE RUNNER 2049 and FLESH NEST

ABSTRACT. This paper will address the post-ness of the “posthuman”, entangling and rethinking the propositions of the debate through an examination of the cyborg love scenes in two media works: Denis Villeneuve’s feature film BLADE RUNNER 2049, and Andrew Thomas Huang’s video artwork FLESH NEST (both from 2017). By turning to Gilles Deleuze and Stanley Cavell, the anthropological theory of Alfred Gell, and the relational phenomenology of Kaja Silverman’s recent work, I will argue that a multi-medial approach to subjectivation and embodiment detaches posthumanism from specifically digital operations that are tied to the history of computation. Instead, a more nuanced and inclusive interpretation of a screen-based media ontology and spectatorship, foregrounds that the virtuality, interrelation cyborgism, and dispersive refraction of the self, are defining features of the modern subject stemming back to the camera obscura. As I will be discussing, there is an overlooked continuity that bridges the gap between the analog and the digital, between technical media and the body: the fact that subjectivity (of the individual, but also of the medium) only ever really happens through a recursive relay of interrelational transmutations, even if the specific contours of this transformative impulse changes in each medial paradigm. Indeed, a reconceptualization of medial inter/activity—understood as the encounter and entwining engagement enabled by mediation (that is, by the intersubjective operations triggered at the meeting point of bodies through the image represented by technical media)—creates an intricate reconnection between the two different visual cultures. This inter/activity goes beyond a necessarily computational culture where it is typically seen to express the particular physio-kinetic interrelation between users and digital interfaces. Instead, I propose to think of inter/activity as a general faculty of mediation—that is, as a medial power of hetero-chronic interrelations, which extends from older analog medial formats to current audiovisual explorations.

Touchy Subjects: The Politics of Post-Digital Touch Between Screen and Skin

ABSTRACT. In this presentation, I feel out the politics of post-digital touch between screen and skin. Ubiquitous computing's current rise of digital touch, or haptic, devices is actually renewing interest in physical touch and the analog at the moment of their perceived decline. This digital age is therefore a post-digital age that can and does appreciate all the digital conveniences we enjoy on a daily basis but does not want to lose other more tangible forms of textuality. This phenomenon I call post-digital touch is an embodied response to digital "disembodied" abstraction that longs for more physicality and more direct tactile knowledge. Through post-digital touch, I analyze "touchy" subjects regarding the troubling ideologies built into ubicomp technologies that can eclipse the precarious identities vulnerable within our privileged technocultures. My experimental engagement with current media ecologies operates in opposition to the too-common kinds of uncritical investment in newer media which ignore the various embodied dimensions of human subjectivity sacrificed to such technophilia. The post-digital skepticism of touchy subjects critiques the ways in which "newer is better" trades these embodied dimensions for an ironically disembodied idea of "progress" promised by Big Tech's planned obsolescence model of purchase-update-discard-replace that dictate the latest digital touch devices. By historicizing digital iterations of haptic media through artistic work in analog forms, I show that our tech has been touchable long before "new" media. In rejection of linear histories of progress that condition our receptions of media shift, I instead call for more expanded experimental engagements with both digital and analog through a perspective of post-digital touch. Scholars I turn to throughout this presentation include Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Florian Cramer, Jay Dolmage, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guatarri, Lori Emerson, and Erin Manning, across fields of comparative media studies, digital humanities, electronic literature, embodied rhetorics, and media archaeology.

Contracting Cruelty

ABSTRACT. In the opening scene of Unica Zürn’s anagrammatic autofiction THE TRUMPETS OF JERICHO, the narrator describes having lived in a “gruesome inner union with an unborn suckling infant.” The male infant has been “tearing apart the fleshy curtains of [her] many intestines with his tiny little red hands.” As the superimposition occurs from organ to organ, the phenomenal specificity of language is suggestive of a colonial takeover happening inside the subject’s body. The text elicits a coital quality as narrative moments bind and unbind at varying speeds. This paper argues that the formal homology between Unica Zürn’s anagrammatic writing in THE TRUMPETS OF JERICHO and her biographical situations, including her creative partnerships with artist-lover Hans Bellmer, enables a rethinking of the gendering of automatism that comes out of an intellectual historical moment when the discourses of the death of the author and the author function emerge. Central to this argument is Deleuze’s notion of masochism, which introduces the possibility of asking how Zürn’s documents of apparent suffering produces a different relationship of reading. Zürn’s experimentations with automatism and the texture of her literary production enable readers to recognize her as an artist and thinker who is subjected to not only Bellmer’s violent gaze but also that of the reader. In leveraging the reader’s attention back to the singularity of her own work and that which it mediates, however, Zürn paradoxically derives agency and power. This paper demonstrates a new conception of the way we think about power in literary texts and the way literary texts operate in relation to power by considering Zürn’s practices of automatism alongside Deleuze’s notion of masochism. In so doing, it opens up a different point of view from which power is considered and distributed.

15:45-17:15 Session 5F: Experimenting with Whitehead, or Experience as Experimentation: Diffusion, Plant Studies, Multiplicity in Science, and Poetic Guesswork
Location: Emerald Bay C
Beyond Clarity, Order, and Unity: Whitehead, Knowledge-as-Action, and the Reframing of Science as Practice

ABSTRACT. Recently, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger characterized Gaston Bachelard’s understanding of science and the affordances of experimental procedures by noting that “events are not determined by simplicity, but by entanglement, complexity, and complicity.” Bachelard himself contests magisterial, if static, views of physics as a “science of facts,” insisting instead that “it is a technology of effects.” Speaking of our “immediate experience” and “connection with the world without,” Whitehead proclaims in Modes of Thought that “the main characteristic of such experience is complexity, vagueness, and compulsive intensity.” More generally still, but in terms directly applicable to science-as-practice, Whitehead provocatively declares that “transcendence of mere clarity and order is necessary for dealing with the unforeseen, for progress, for excitement. Life degenerates when enclosed within the shackles of mere conformation. A power of incorporating vague and disorderly elements of experience is essential for the advance into novelty.” All of which is essential lest otherwise “the universe is reduced to static futility, devoid of life and motion.” Taken together with Bachelard’s statements, Whitehead provokes us to ask how scientific practices as embodied forms of knowing force confrontations with a dynamic world of multiplicity. How, additionally, “things” ought not be regarded as isolated entities, but rather as constituted by and through their entanglement with other “entities”—things understood as themselves “events.” My paper will address the implications of such characterizations of science, things, events, and of knowledge as a mode of action. Starting with a reconsideration of the early modern emergence of “the experimental life” seen through the lens of what I have termed “technologies of the literal,” I plan to address the role of order/disorder and unity/multiplicity as backdrop to Whiteheadian experiential/experimental engagements with the world and the crucial operation of perspectives.

Whitehead Outdoors

ABSTRACT. In a discussion of neoliberal attitudes toward climate change illustrated by the “earthworm dilemma,” Filippo Bertoni notes, “attending to this particular kind of togetherness and the normative problem it poses, another version of the research emerged, not as concerned with accounting, but with experimenting, in its situated, specific, and ongoing character.” Understanding measurement is usually easy, but learning to experiment – being open to complex possibilities – doesn’t plot well on an x/y axis. Elements of Plant Studies connect with Bertoni’s notion of “experiment,” particularly the collaborative work of Michael Marder and Luce Irigaray; and a philosophy that provides a robust conceptual framework to adopt an experimental stance can be found in Alfred North Whitehead and his commentator Isabelle Stengers. This paper examines what Whitehead calls in Science and the Modern World, “the output of actuality,” as it could be used to inform some current threads of environmental philosophy. (The earthworm dilemma concerns “the functioning of earthworms in soil ecosystems,” as Lubbers et al. observe: “their ability to increase soil fertility as well as C [carbon] stabilization lies primarily in their ability to accelerate decomposition and increase soil aggregation. In turn, these capacities may, however, cause an increase in net soil GHG [greenhouse gases] emissions.”)

"A Situation That is Questioning": Practices of Experiential/Experimental Guesswork in Wright, Langer, and Whitehead

ABSTRACT. In a 2008 interview Isabelle Stengers described her Brussels-based research group GECo (Groupe d’études constructivistes) as “experiencing and experimenting with modes of working that make palpable what practices of collective thought might demand and produce.” Instead of “a project,” GECo exhibited “a trajectory resulting from a three-way assemblage: the work in the making, the one who puts to work, and that which calls for its own existence.” (The latter “keeps the one who puts to work guessing – not in the sense of a secret to be discovered but... in the sense of a situation that is questioning.”) Stengers also observed that “at the moment” the group “operates below the... threshold that would allow it to envision intervening” politically. Since then, she has herself crossed that threshold in a series of works modeling political intervention informed by science studies. Here I am concerned with the more preliminary trajectory of GECo and with Stengers’s figuration of the group as “one” (“the one who puts to work” – in Etienne Souriau’s sense of “work to be done”). That allows me to shift the focus to the experimental/experiential work of the U.S. poet Jay Wright, and examine how some of his poetry operates in a similar fashion to GECo. Instead of a group understood as “one” (“working together” and to that extent coming together), Wright offers an example of “one” as a group. Specifically, the poetry in question “makes palpable what practices of collective thought might demand and produce” – where the collectivity in question consists of the African-American poet (already a congeries of identities), Whitehead (subject of Stengers’s Thinking with Whitehead and patron saint of much contemporary science studies), and Whitehead’s student Susanne Langer, exemplary philosopher of what might be termed physiological aesthetics and a

15:45-17:15 Session 5G: Bauhaus Futures
Location: Doheny Beach A
Bauhaus Futures

ABSTRACT. Bauhaus Futures is an edited collection to be published in 2019 for the Bauhaus centennial. The book seeks to answer the question: “What would keep the Bauhaus up at night if it was practicing today?” Rather than a history, the book is oriented towards the theories, methods and experimental practices that are required for the future of the design field. This presentation introduces the motivations of book project from an editorial perspective, expanding on the implications for this re-thinking of the design field to accommodate new perspectives and topics such as discourses around posthuman and more than human. The presentation will illustrate examples from the book, which includes authors from a range of fields including art, architecture and design; media studies and communication; and science and technology studies. The book takes on key questions about design history and pedagogy; race, gender and social justice; and, materiality, embodiment and aesthetics with six sections as follows: 1) Situating the Bauhaus in Design History; 2) Critical Pedagogies, Imaginaries and Memes; 3) ‘Problems’ and Politics of Race and Social Justice; 4) Materialities of Making; 5) Embodiment in Feminist Circuits and Cyborgs; 6) Emerging Technologies, Techno-Utopian Aesthetics and Interactions. In order to engage with these themes, the book includes both traditional academic essays as well as experimental formats. These experimental formats include a play, interviews, a photo-essay, paper-making and an exhibition. This presentation will frame the work of other panelists within the context of the larger book project.

Bauhaus and the People without Design History

ABSTRACT. In the vein of anthropologist Eric Wolf's magisterial Europe and the People Without History, this paper examines the Bauhaus as deeply embedded in global systems of power and inequality. As such, classic items such as tea sets are implicated in slave labor, transforming working classes, and the colonial violence enacted in Africa, Asia, and the so-called "New World." Bauhaus futures, then must account for this history and imagine beyond it.

How to Finesse Material Incongruities in the Spirit of the Bauhaus

ABSTRACT. Building upon previous movements, the Bauhaus aimed to dissolve the distinction between art and craft, bringing textiles and architecture, ceramics and painting under the same school. This "unity", in the words of Walter Gropius, was meant to foreground the interdependence between different forms of creative work, and the consequent need to explore modern technologies alongside ancient practices. One craft not included in Bauhaus study, however, was hand papermaking. This absence is perhaps not terribly surprising, given the rise of industrial paper mills throughout Europe in the 19th century, and the subsequent decline of handmade paper. Nevertheless, the attention to the materiality of paper as a substrate was not lost upon Bauhaus instructors, as Josef Albers taught students how to turn a two-dimensional sheet of paper into a three-dimensional object through folding. In the spirit of the living within that liminal space between art and craft that was such a hallmark of the Bauhaus, and in the centenary of its founding, I present my practice-based research on the integration of handmade paper and electronics. I have turned to papermaking as a means of highlighting the affordances of different material substrates, or the ways in which the technical characteristics of paper--fiber choice, fiber preparation, sheet forming, drying--affect the resulting object. This, coupled with the embedding of electronic components into the handmade paper, allows me to knead an older way of making with contemporary capabilities. I enfold the material experiments of Gunta Stölzl and Anni Albers with early cyberfeminist explorations of weaving and computation to highlight how old and new technologies are always already imbricated. I do this research in the context of research into the limits of communication, materializing the utopian ethos of the Bauhaus in the exploration of our relationship with extraterrestrial entities in the cosmos.

15:45-17:15 Session 5H: Biologies and Zoologies in Literature and the Arts
Location: Moss Cove B
Henri Fabre and Gerald Durrell: A Curious Case of (Noncritical) Anthropomorphism

ABSTRACT. The nineteenth century saw a split between professional and amateur science, with amateurs increasingly writing for children—a new literary audience. The late nineteenth-century French naturalist Henri Fabre swam in both streams; an educator, he avowedly wrote for children, and, as “father of entomology,” he compiled monumental works based on meticulous observation and record-keeping. The accuracy resulting from his methods and the “humanistic elegance” of his original French texts made his work valuable, despite his rejection of Darwinian theory. Fabre’s anthropomorphic depictions of insects may be especially valuable for the child reader (as long as this approach is balanced with more objective science) and in some conservation efforts . The education of writer and conservationist Gerald Durrell, heavily indebted to Fabre’s books for both content and method, is a case in point. Durrell’s childhood education was a blend of reading (mostly selected by his older brother, novelist Lawrence Durrell); rambles through the landscapes and shorelines of Corfu, where the family lived during the 1930s; and discipline imposed by tutors, notably the respected naturalist and medical doctor Theodore Stephanides. Durrrell’s writing style is consistently and clearly indebted to Fabre; he describes Fabre’s importance as a naturalist in The Amateur Naturalist, a guide to systematic nature study written primarily for children. On neighboring pages, Durrell also explains the importance of professional scientists, without suggesting that either the objective approach (Linnaeus or Darwin) or the non-theoretical approach (Fabre and White) is superior. Clearly, Durrell needed both: two approaches to science made him into a passionate environmentalist, capable of turning to science to explain the processes of evolution and extinction; and capable, too, of developing effective methods for capture and care of wild animals; captive breeding and reintroduction of highly endangered species; and training technicians in environmental hot spots to care for their own wildlife

The Feral Horse: Generating Interspecies Meaning in Colonial Spanish America

ABSTRACT. The fate of feral horses in the United States is a hot-button political issue, generating extensive public debate between wild horse advocates and ecologists over the right for feral horses to occupy federal grasslands in heated polemical terms. As animals that occupy wilderness areas in a post-domestication state, feral horses represent transgressive beings, and, from the view of conservationists and wildlife ecologists, are ecological outcasts that should be exterminated. On the other hand, affective relationships with these feral beings drive wild horse advocates to resist this calculated biopolitical hierarchy, and champion the humane treatment of animals that no longer fall under the protection of agricultural industry needs (as benefits their competing livestock companions on federal lands). Behind these acrimonious policy debates, a larger question emerges about cultural responsibility for the post-domestication state of ferality. Typically, the “wild horse” problem has been considered a borderlands issue, one due to lack of human engagement or proper management of environmental resources. In this paper, however, I consider the feral horse from a longue durée cultural and historical perspective in order to trace social engagements with the lives of feral horses and how these engagements have generated distinct communities of practice in the Americas. First introduced by Spanish colonizers of the Americas, horses brought to the American continents multipled rapidly. Despite the rhetoric about wild horses, these horse populations in fact expanded in diverse environments based on strategic initiatives relying on Iberian animal husbandry practices of loose management systems. Using this scenario, I analyze the experimental and experiential “wilding” of domesticated horses, as well as the “domestication” of indigenous populations abetted by the introduction of these herds. I find that the intersubjective state of ferality for colonial Spanish subjects represents a state of being that Amgagen has described as one that “emerges

“This Bird Made an Art of Being Vile”: Ontological Difference and Uncomfortable Intimacies in Stephen Gregory’s The Cormorant

ABSTRACT. Stephen Gregory’s novel The Cormorant (1986) probes the limits of the intimacies we experience with the animals we “know” best: the pets with whom we share our families and homes. Tracing the narrator’s increasing fascination with an enigmatic cormorant, the novel explores the complex and unsettling connections that can develop between diversely situated multispecies companions. The bird—described throughout the novel as “arrogant” and “vile”—represents something that the family cannot understand, which nonetheless affects them powerfully: an ontological otherness that is both “revolting” and strangely alluring. As the narrator and his young toddler become increasingly affected by the enigmatic cormorant’s “magnetism,” transforming into new, more horrifying selves in response to the bird’s Otherness, Gregory uses elements of ecohorror to foreground the ontological gulf between the cormorant and its human keepers and the importance of ethical responsibility toward animal Otherness. Examining the horrific, often violent outcomes of abandoning such responsibilities, Gregory insinuates that true monstrosity is found not in the strange Others with whom we live, but rather in humans who abandon their cross-species kin. In this talk, Brittany Roberts considers key scenes from The Cormorant alongside animal studies scholarship, post-humanist philosophy, and horror criticism, examining how the novel foregrounds questions foundational for ecological thought. What kinds of responses can we address to the Other, especially if the Other is occluded? And what are our responsibilities toward the Others with whom we live, particularly when these Others are ambiguous or even, sometimes, monstrous? On a planet abounding with such cross-species relationships, the at times horrific potentials of human-animal bonds—especially those most intimate—demands attention. In Roberts’s reading of Gregory’s novel, she suggests that the task is to establish ethical bonds: ones attentive to the dynamics of otherness-in-relation, which, as Donna Haraway suggests, are always precarious, always uncertain.

Goth biology as mystical and scientific experience

ABSTRACT. German Idealism still dominates most approaches in theoretical biology. This has led to a conception of organisms as tightly regulated self-forming systems where the demands of the whole organism dominate how the parts are coordinated. This manuscript troubles this approach by presenting aspects of biology that refuse to be synthesized into a specific whole. I call this approach “goth biology” as it recognizes the murkiness of systems of knowledge, the loosely composite nature of most living things, and the continual haunting of life by death. Methodologically, I use insights gleaned from the history of Gothic architecture and art, gothic literature, and post-punk goth music to explore the role of aesthetics, timbres, and forms as elements of lives that bound disparate times and spaces without providing a unified synthesis. A form of biological and mystical experience, goth biology demands that one lose a conception of “self” in order to embrace the complexity of biological interactions. As the goth performance artist, Anna-Varney Cantodea recently confessed in an interview: “I have long given up on any goals I might have had”, but this doesn’t keep me from being inspired by everything around me.

15:45-17:15 Session 5I: ROUNDTABLE: Far East of Eden

This experimental video and roundtable discussion, created by Karen Finley and Bruce Yonemoto while artists-in-residence at California’s Montalvo Arts Center, touches on the racism of the Center’s founder, James D. Phelan, and brings the story up to the present. Finley’s performance channels Phelan, one of the biggest proponents of anti-Japanese immigration laws at the turn of the last century, which ultimately resulted in the imprisonment of 150,000 Japanese Americans by the U.S. government. The roundtable will discuss racism towards American Asians to our situation today vis-à-vis American people of color.

15:45-17:15 Session 5J: ROUNDTABLE: Designing for Inclusive Excellence

The designer, the practice of designing, and the products of design are situated in increasingly diverse cultural, social, and economic environments. As design educators, we wish to better understand these phenomena in order to  support the development of culturally inclusive design practices. Current teaching methods generally do not honor cultural diversity as something intrinsic to design excellence. This roundtable will begin with a presentation by the current Graphic, Industrial, and Environmental program chairs at OCAD University—the largest and most comprehensive art, design and media university in Canada—about their attempt to take university-wide guiding principles on inclusion and diversity from a state of vision to one of action in the classroom. This ongoing research reveals several dominant themes across five aspects of studio-based pedagogy that are common to all design disciplines: the setting of the learning space, the assignment structure, the design process, peer/mentor critique, and the assignment outcomes. Invited UCI guests will then respond to this research with an eye towards reimagining design education for the 21st century.

Roundtable discussants include Stephen Barker, Dean, Claire Trevor School of the Arts; Geoffrey Bowker (Donald Bren Professor in Information and Computer Sciences and co-author of Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences); Keith Murphy (Associate Professor of Anthropology and author of Swedish Design: An Ethnography); Valerie Olson (Associate Professor of Anthropology and author of Into the Extreme: U.S. Environmental Systems and Politics Beyond Earth); Julia Lupton (Faculty Director, Illuminations: The Chancellor's Arts and Culture Initiative and author of Shakespeare Dwelling: Designs for the Theater of Life); Antoinette LaFarge (Professor o Electronic Art and Design and author of Louise Brigham and the Early History of Sustainable Design); Simon Penny (Professor o Electronic Art and Design and author of Making Sense: Cognition, Computing, Art, and Embodiment); Theresa Jean Tanenbaum (Assistant Professor in Informatics and Director of the Transformative Play Lab), Sanjoy Mazumdar (Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy and co-chair, Cultural Aspects of Design Network), John Crawford (Associate Dean, Claire Trevor School of the Arts and Director, Emergent Media + Design), and Ivan Williams (Trustee, UCI Foundation and supporter of This Changes Everything).

Sponsored by UCI's Emergent Media + Design initiative.


17:30-19:00 PLENARY EVENT: Sara Diamond Keynote Address

Sara Diamond is the president of OCAD University, the largest and most comprehensive art, design and media university in Canada. While retaining OCAD U's traditional strengths in art and design, Diamond has guided the university in becoming a leader in digital media, inclusive design, and sustainable technologies. Previously, from 1995 to 2005, she was the director of research at the Banff Centre, where she created the Banff New Media Institute.  Diamond holds a Ph.D. in computer science and degrees in new media theory and practice, social history, and communications. She is an appointee of the Order of Ontario, the Order of Canada and the Royal Canadian Society of Artists. As we move into a time of algorithmic technologies, Sara's talk will address OCAD U's work to bring STEM, Indigenous knowledge, and other diverse voices together in order to position human and environmental agencies within these equations.

Sponsored by UCI's Emergent Media + Design initiative.

19:00-21:00 RECEPTION: Beall Center for Art + Technology

Conference goers are invited to a special reception for artist lauren woods’s installation American Monument in advance of her artist’s talk on Friday. You may also view the show anytime during regular gallery opening hours, which are noon-6 pm, Thurs.-Sat.

20:00-21:30 SPECIAL EVENT: AirLock

In AirLock we are conducting an experimental dramatization of the way in which, given the impending cascade of living system collapse, the earth itself can be considered a kind of airlock - a fragile intermediating zone that can sustain human life within the extreme environment of outer space. Through a layered video design that composites live video feed with archival footage, AirLock proposes a visual algorithm that delineates and muddies the boundaries of four spheres of existence. Actor-controlled media mechanisms realize the elastic scale of the worlds by generating surprising alignments and disjunctions. AirLock divides the stage into four distinct but interconnected playing areas. First, an astronaut floats on life support tether in the airlock of his spacesuit outside the orbiting US-Russian space station. Second, a female RussianCosmonaut is attempting to communicate to this astronaut from an airlock on the space station that has itself malfunctioned. Third, a tense night-time scene in mission control in which a female scientist attempts to keep things under wrap. Downstage of these interlocking scenes is, finally, a “beach” area where the astronaut and his Russian and American colleagues interact in a series of flashbacks that fill in what is really unfolding between the three main characters. For SLSA we will present a 40-minute staged reading of the full text, involving seven actors and easily portable elements of the media design, with the goal of moving on to a full stage production in 2020.

20:00-21:15 SPECIAL EVENT: Reading Frankenstein

Free but reservations are strongly recommended

Created by director Annie Loui and artist Antoinette LaFarge, Reading Frankenstein is an intermedia performance in which a contemporary scientist named Mary Shelley discovers that one of her failed genetic experiments is running amok in her laboratory, at the same time as the novel Frankenstein is haunting her imagination. Given the autonomy of A.I. and the accelerating scientific possibilities of CRISPR, Reading Frankenstein presents questions about ethics and evolution in an era of genetic possibility. The show is about an hour and a quarter long with no intermission.

Location: xMPL