This Semester, I’ll Be Writing in Public About My Practice

http://femmedisturbance.tumblr.com/post/31391024533/this-semester-ill-be-writing-in-public-about-my

This semester, I’m taking “Seminar in Media and Design Studies” in iMAP with Holly Wills. She has asked us to do the 750 word challenge, writing 750 words a day this semester. Whew, that is a major challenge. Between trying to be both a student and a practicing artist, it has already proven difficult, but I swung it last week by writing for publication deadlines. But now, I’m going to try to write here in this space a few times a week about my practice and the works we’re reading and viewing in Holly’s class. So, if you want to learn more about my practice as an artist/theorist, you can follow these writings here on my Tumblr. I would also be very happy to hear your responses to these writings, comments, anything that resonates for you, I’d like to know.

What is my practice that I’ll be writing about? It is a practice that combines theoretical writing and artistic practice across a number of mediums: performance, wearable electronics, social engagement, poetry, video, photography…

Read the rest here: http://femmedisturbance.tumblr.com/post/31391024533/this-semester-ill-be-writing-in-public-about-my

Queer Media Art and Theory in June on empyre list

Reposting from zachblas.info

I’m super excited to announce that Micha Cárdenas and myself have organized and curated a month of Queer Media Art & Theory on the listserv empyre: soft_skinned space. We’re using empyre as a launching point for Q, the queer media art, theory, praxis, discussion listserv we just started this year.

We have lined up a great month of discussions with some awesome guests. Please join us on empyre during june. In july, we’ll migrate the discussion over to Q.

We hope to see you on empyre and Q throughout the summer! The empyre line-up is listed below, and it all starts tomorrow!

Queer Media Art and Theory on empyre: soft_skinned space

Moderated by Zach Blas (US) and Micha Cárdenas (US) with Amanda Philips (US), Margaret Rhee (US/Korea), Jacob Gaboury (US), Jack Halberstam (US), Homay King (US), Michael O’Rourke (Ireland), Lauren Berlant (US), Jordan Crandall (US), Patricia Clough (US), Heather Davis (Canada), Ricardo Dominguez (US), Pinar Yoldas (Turkey/US), and more.
http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/

week 1: emerging artistic and theoretical practices (june 2 – 8 )
amanda philips, ucsb
margaret rhee, uc berkeley

week 2: computation and the nonhuman (june 9 – 15)
jacob gaboury, nyu & rhizome.org
jack halberstam, usc
homay king, bryn mawr
michael o’rourke, independent colleges dublin

week 3: affect (june 16 – 22)
lauren berlant, u of chicago
jordan crandall, ucsd
patricia clough, cuny

week 4: bio/nano/materiality (june 23 – 29)
heather davis, montreal & duke
ricardo dominguez, ucsd
pinar yoldas, duke

 

Official Announcement

June, 2012 on -empyre- soft_skinned space

Queer Media Art and Theory

Moderated by Zach Blas (US) and Micha Cárdenas (US) with Amanda Philips (US), Margaret Rhee (US/Korea), Jacob Gaboury (US), Jack Halberstam (US), Homay King (US), Michael O’Rourke (Ireland), Jordan Crandall (US), Patricia Clough (US), Lauren Berlant (US), Pinar Yoldas (Turkey/US), Ricardo Dominguez (US), Heather Davis (Canada) and more.

http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/

This month’s focus on empyre will explore queerness and its relations to media art and theory. Featured guests will introduce their artistic and theoretical practices to consider and reflect upon the multiplicitous terrain of queerness and technology.

We understand queer new media–art and theory–as something more than just new media produced by LGBTIQ peoples. Queer new media to us encompasses queer methodologies and political commitments, a general troubling of binaries from the technical level and beyond, a continuous challenging of gender roles, the explorations of possibilities for sexuality, alternative friendship and kinship structures, and a general desire for the non-normative, strange, subversive, and utopic. Importantly, queer new media for us is about the continual re-making and refashioning of queerness. New media theory has taught us for some time to pay careful attention to materiality, in all its human and nonhuman forms. Queer new media practices engage our material world and consider the shifting feedback loops between the construction of queerness and material existence. What happens to queerness when we engage it with / through new media?

These discussions emerged out of conversations between Blas and Cárdenas based on their shared practices. Recently, we created a mailing list, Q [http://lists.transreal.org/listinfo.cgi/q-transreal.org], because we saw a need for a space to hold sustained discussion about these topics. We plan to continue the fruitful conversation started on empyre after June on the Q list.

==================================================

Moderated by:

Zach Blas (US) is an artist-theorist working at the intersections of networked media, queerness, and the political. He is a PhD candidate in Literature, Information Science + Information Studies, Visual Studies at Duke University and holds an MFA in Design | Media Arts, University of California Los Angele and is also the founding member of Queer Technologies. Zach has exhibited and lectured around the world, including The Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Banff Centre, Medialab Prado, South by Southwest Interactive, transmediale festival, Arse Elektronika Festival, Upgrade! Tijuana, the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, where he co-curated the 2011 group exhibition Speculative. His up-coming exhibitions include the 2012 Liverpool Biennial and Trans Technology at Rutgers University. Zach has recently published writings inThe Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader and has also edited Micha Cárdenas’ newly published book The Transreal: Political Aesthetics of Crossing Realities. In Fall 2012, Zach will be an artist/researcher-in-residence at the b.a.n.g.lab, UCSD, directed by Ricardo Dominguez. http://zachblas.info

 Micha Cárdenas (US) is an artist/theorist who works in performance, wearable electronics, hacktivism and critical gender studies. She is a PhD student in Media Arts and Practice (iMAP) at University of Southern California and a member of Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0. Her book The Transreal: Political Aesthetics of Crossing Realities was published by Atropos Press in 2012. Micha holds an MFA from University of California, San Diego, an MA in Communication from the European Graduate School and a BS in Computer Science from Florida International University. She has exhibited and performed in biennials, museums and galleries in places around the world including Los Angeles, San Diego, Tijuana, New York, San Francisco, Montreal, Colombia, Egypt, Ecuador, Spain, Switzerland and Ireland. Her work has been written about in publications including Art21, the Associated Press, the LA Times, CNN, BBC World, Wired and Rolling Stone Italy. She blogs at transreal.org and tweets at @michacardenas.

Featured Guests, Biographies:

 Amanda Philips (US) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English with an emphasis in Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation takes a vertical slice of the video games industry to look at how difference is produced and policed on multiple levels of the gamic system: discourse, hardware, software, representation, and corporate practice. Her interests more broadly are in queer, feminist, and antiracist discourses in and around technoculture, popular media, and the digital humanities. In addition to participating in the 2010 NEH-sponsored Humanities Gaming Institute, Amanda has been a HASTAC Scholar since 2009 and hosted, in conjunction with Margaret Rhee, an online HASTAC Forum on Queer and Feminist New Media Spaces, the organization’s most-commented forum to date. She has presented at the conferences for UCLA Queer Studies, the American Studies Association, the Popular Culture Association, and the Conference on College Composition and Communication, and has participated in unconferences such as HASTAC’s Peer-to-Peer Pedagogies Workshop, THATCamp SoCal, and the Transcriptions Research Slam. Most recently, she has been involved with the #transformDH Collective’s efforts to encourage and highlight critical cultural studies work in digital humanities projects.

Margaret Rhee (US/Korea) is a doctoral candidate in Ethnic Studies with a designated emphasis in New Media Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is conceptualist and co-lead of From the Center, a feminist collective that aims to provide digital media access and education for women inside and outside the jail setting as authors, directors, and storytellers of their own lives. website: http://ourstorysf.org/ She co-curated HASTAC Scholars “Queer and Feminist New Media Spaces” with Amanda Phillips in 2010. Her interests include posthumanism and race, Asian American cultural critique, and queer theory.

 Jacob Gaboury (US) is a doctoral candidate in the department of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University and a staff writer for the art and technology organization Rhizome at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. His work is concerned with media history, art and technology and queer technologies, and he is currently finishing A Queer History of Computing, to be published this summer through Rhizome in partnership with Amazon.com. His dissertation project is titled Image Objects: An Archaeology of Computer Graphics, and deals with the early history of computer graphics and their role in the shift toward object oriented systems and design.

 Jack Halberstam (US) is Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California. Halberstam works in the areas of popular, visual and queer culture with an emphasis on subcultures. Halberstam’s first book, Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (1995), was a study of popular gothic cultures of the 19th and 20th centuries and it stretched from Frankenstein to contemporary horror film. Her 1998 book, Female Masculinity (1998), made a ground breaking argument about non-male masculinity and tracked the impact of female masculinity upon hegemonic genders. Halberstam’s last book, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (2005), described and theorized queer reconfigurations of time and space in relation to subcultural scenes and the emergence of transgender visibility. This book devotes several chapters to the topic of visual representation of gender ambiguity. Halberstam was also the co-author with Del LaGrace Volcano of a photo/essay book, The Drag King Book (1999), and with Ira Livingston of an anthology, Posthuman Bodies (1995). Halberstam regularly speaks on queer culture, gender studies and popular culture and publishes blogs at bullybloggers.com. Halberstam just published a book titled The Queer Art of Failure in August 2011 from Duke University Press and has another book coming out next year from Beacon Press titled Gaga Feminism.

Homay King (US) is Associate Professor in the Department of History of Art and Director of the Program in Film Studies at Bryn Mawr College. She is the author of Lost in Translation: Orientalism, Cinema, and the Enigmatic Signifier (Duke UP, 2010). Her essays on film and contemporary art have appeared in Afterall, Camera Obscura, Discourse, Film Quarterly, and The Quarterly Review of Film and Video. She is a member of the Camera Obscura editorial collective. Her current project is book about the virtual.

Michael O’Rourke (Ireland) teaches in the Department of Psychotherapy at Independent Colleges Dublin, Ireland and he has published extensively on the intersections between queer theory and continental philosophy. He is currently writing a book on object oriented ontology and speculative realism. Some of his many publications can be found here: http://independentcolleges.academia.edu/MichaelORourke

Lauren Berlant (US) is George M. Pullman Professor of English at the University of Chicago. Her national sentimentality trilogy — The Anatomy of National Fantasy (University of Chicago Press, 1991, Chicago), The Queen of America Goes to Washington City (Duke University Press, 1997, Durham), and The Female Complaint (Duke University Press, 2008, Durham) — has now morphed into a quartet, with Cruel Optimism (2011) addressing precarious publics and the aesthetics of affective adjustment in the contemporary U.S. and Europe. A co-editor of Critical Inquiry, she is also editor of Intimacy (University of Chicago Press, 2000, Chicago); Our Monica, Ourselves: The Clinton Affair and the National Interest (New York University Press, 2001, New York); Compassion: the Culture and Politics of an Emotion (Routledge, 2004, New York); and On the Case (Critical Inquiry, 2007). She blogs at Supervalent Thought and is also a founding member of the art/activist group Feel Tank Chicago.

Jordan Crandall (US) (http://jordancrandall.com) is a media artist, theorist, and performer.  He is a Professor of Visual Arts at University of California, San Diego.  He is the 2011 winner of the Vilém Flusser Theory Award for outstanding theory and research-based digital arts practice, given by the Transmediale in Berlin in collaboration with the Vilém Flusser Archive of the University of Arts, Berlin.  He is a collaborator  at Eyebeam art and technology center in New York and the founding editor of the journal VERSION (http://version.org). His current project UNMANNED is a work of “philosophical theater”: a blend of performance art, political allegory, philosophical speculation, and intimate reverie that explores the ontologies of distributed systems and the changing nature of masculinity in the face of automated technologies of war.

Patricia Clough (US) is Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the co- editor with Craig Willse of Beyond Biopolitics: Essays on the Governance of Life and Death and editor of The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social, both published by Duke University Press. Her books include Autoaffection (2000), Feminist Thought (1995) and The End(s) of Ethnography (1992, revised 1998).

Heather Davis (Canada) is a researcher and writer from Montreal. She recently completed her Ph.D. in Communication at Concordia University on the political potential of community-based art.  She explores and participates in expanded art practices that bring together researchers, activists, and community members to enact social change. In the fall, she will begin an FQRSC postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University to examine the shifting nature of institutional structures under the double pressures of social practice art and neoliberalism. She has written about the intersection of art, politics, and community engagement for Fibreculture, Public, No More Potlucks, and .dpi journal.

Ricardo Dominguez (US) is a co-founder of The Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), a group who developed Virtual-Sit-In technologies in 1998 in solidarity with the Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico. His recent Electronic Disturbance Theater project with Brett Stabaum, Micha Cardenas, Dr. Amy Sara Carroll (University of Michigan), and Elle Elle Mehrmand, the *Transborder Immigrant Tool* (a GPS cellphone safety net tool for crossing the Mexico/U.S border was the winner of “Transnational Communities Award” (2008), this award was funded by *Cultural Contact*, Endowment for Culture Mexico – U.S. and handed out by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico), also funded by CALIT2 and two Transborder Awards from the UCSD Center for the Humanities. *Transborder Immigrant Tool* was exhibited at 2010 California Biennial (OCMA), Toronto Free Gallery, Canada (2011), the project was also under investigation by the U.S. Congress in 2009/10, and was also reviewed by Glenn Beck in 2010 as a gesture that potentially “dissolved” the U.S. border with its poetry. Ricardo is an Associate Professor at UCSD in the Visual Arts Department, a Hellman Fellow, and Principal/Principle Investigator at CALIT2 (http://bang.calit2.net). He also co-founder of *particle group*, with artists Diane Ludin, Nina Waisman, Amy Sara Carroll, an art project about nano-toxicology entitled *Particles of Interest: Tales of the Matter Market* that has been presented in Berlin (2007), the San Diego Museum of Art (2008), Oi Futuro, Brazil (2008), CAL NanoSystems Institute, UCLA (2009), Medialab-Prado, Madrid (2009), Nanosferica, NYU (2010), SOMA, D.F.,Mexico (2012).

Pinar Yoldas (Turkey/US) is a cross-disciplinary artist, all-in-one designer and a neuro-enthusiast. Through her work she investigates social and cultural systems in regards to biological and ecological systems. Lately she has been designing mutations, tumors and neoplasmic organs to rethink the body and its sexuality transformed by the mostly urban habitats of techno-capitalist consumerism. Her current project Speculative Biologies simulates the experience of a ” natural history museum of the future” showcasing Species of Excess elegantly caged in incubators, jars, aquariums. Pinar’s work has been exhibited internationally including Bologna(Italy) , Torun(Poland), Istanbul, Frankfurt, Providence, Portland, Berkeley, New Mexico and Los Angeles. She has been awarded residency fellowship grants at MacDowell Colony, UCross Foundation and VCCA. Her artwork has been featured in Wired Magazine(online), Digicult(online) and Beatiful Decay. Her research interests include evolutionary aesthetics, art-neuroscience interactions and subversive gaming environments . She is an active lab member of s-1: Speculative Sensation Lab, led by Mark B. N. Hansen (Duke University) and UCLA ArtSci Center + Lab led by Victoria Vesna (UCLA). She has held teaching positions in Istanbul KH University , UCLA and Duke University and has led workshops in physical computing, programming and interface design. Pinar has a BArch from METU , MS from ITU , MA from Istanbul Bilgi University and an MFA from UCLA.Currently she is a PhD student in the  Art, Art History and Visual Studies department at Duke University. Check her latest project Speculative Biologies and more at http://pinaryoldas.info .

The Transreal book is now available!

The Transreal: Political Aesthetics of Crossing Realities is now available on Amazon.com. I am so thrilled to say that my new book was released in February 2012. I hope you enjoy it and if you write a review, please let me know! Or if you know of a university or bookstore that would like to host an event, please comment on this post and I’ll get back to you via email. Thank you!

From the back cover:

The Transreal: Political Aesthetics of Crossing Realities explores the use of multiple simultaneous realities as a medium in contemporary art, including mixed reality, augmented reality and alternate reality approaches. Building on the notion of “trans” from transgender, signifying the crossing of boundaries, the book proposes that transreal aesthetics cross the boundaries created by a proliferation of conceptions of reality that occurred as a result of postmodern theory and emerging technologies.

Proposing three operations for dealing with multiple realities, The Transreal discusses artists and art collectives including Blast Theory, mez breeze, Reza Negarestani, Ricardo Dominguez and Zach Blas. Through these artists’ work and Cárdenas’ own artwork, including Becoming Dragon and collaborations with Elle Mehrmand Becoming Transreal, technésexual and virus.circus, The Transreal demonstrates that transreal aesthetics have broad implications across new media, performance art and electronic literature. The book spans a wide range of genres including theoretical analyses of artworks, poetry, source code, photos of performances and wearable electronics, and discussions with leading thinkers in new media and performance art including Stelarc, Allucquére Rosanne Stone and Ricardo Dominguez.

Building on the notion of experimental affective politics that was developed in Cárdenas’ first book Trans Desire/Affective Cyborgs, co-authored with Barbara Fornssler, The Transreal claims that an understanding of building and working with multiple realities is essential for artists and political actors to have agency today.

“In this daring and poetic study, Micha Cárdenas guides us through the world of the transexual, the transgenerational, the transpolitical, the transborder. The transreal is both a multilayered space and an existential condition. Brilliant.”

Diana Taylor, University Professor, Performance Studies and Spanish, New York University

“The book itself, a provocative combination of theory, art, and autobiography, is at once a field guide, operating manual, and diary that embodies the mobile, mixed realities that it activates and describes, bringing together erotics and ethics within its calls to action.”

Jordan Crandall, Associate Professor, Visual Arts, UC San Diego

“Micha Cárdenas and her playmates are ontological guerrillas who know that blowing up the dominant order of power/knowledge is only the first step towards real revolution. The crucial next step is materializing virtual possibilities immanent in our current situation.”


Susan Stryker, Associate Professor, University of Arizona

The Place of the Personal in Art/Theory Interdisciplinary Scholarship?

repost from my HASTAC blog.

As an artist/theorist, I find myself thinking a lot lately about the place of the personal in my work, and I wonder how other HASTAC scholars and readers think about these issues.

A major part of my aesthetic as a performance artist has been a choice to place personal risk and intimacy at the core of my art practice. This choice is inspired by artists such as Carollee Schneeman, Sophie Calle, Marina Abramovic and Ulay, Linda Montano and Hannah Wilke, who have chosen to make their personal lives and the intimate relationships the subject of their work. Often, this is a feminist strategy of making the personal political. As Chris Kraus writes in I Love Dick, an intensely personal and theoretical book of memoir/fiction:

Let a girl choose death — Janis Joplin, Simone Weil– and death becomes her definition, the outcome of her “problems.” To be female till means beng trapped within the purely psychological. No matter how dispassionate or large a vision of the world a woman formulates, whenever it includes her own experience and emotion, the telescope’s turned back on her. (196)

In another part of the book, on the work of Hannah Wilke, Kraus says that Wilke’s work was focused on the question “If women have failed to make ‘universal’ art because we’re trapped within the ‘personal,’ why not universalize the ‘personal’ and make it the subject of our art?” (211)

I am very seriously interested in these questions as they pertain to scholarship and in my role as, or performance of, an artist/theorist. As I write my essay the upcoming Marxism and New Media conference at Duke, I am not sure how much, if any at all, personal experience to include. Does my role as a performance artist stop when I am writing academic papers, in the drive for legitimacy? Does personal experience and emotion somehow necessarily devalue scholarly work? As a performance artist, I am not sure if the personal cost of using my life in my work is worth the outcome, or if I would be satisfied not including my personal experience in my work.

These questions also apply to other people who create personal artwork as part of their scholarship, including poets and writers. Here I am thinking ofJeanne Jo in the iMAP PhD program at USC as well as Margaret Rhee and her current project on queer love poems. It seems queer theory in general, as well as feminist theory, has a major stake in one’s personal relationship to one’s material, as much as many scholars attempt to have an “objective” approach. How are reviewers, for journals or for tenure, supposed to be “objective” when evaluating work of mine that deals with intimate details of my life?

I find that academic frequently supports and perhaps encourages certain categories of people to do certain categories of work, like the queer people doing queer theory, indigenous people writing indigenous theory, mixed race people studying critical mixed race theory, the list goes on. What are the implications and limitations of this? Is it something we should support with our own scholarship or break away from?

Additionally, as digital media scholars and artists, the lines between personal and scholarly are often blurred in online contexts. While I could choose to do things differently, and visitor to my Flickr page may see images of my artwork or images of my personal life, and similarly with Facebook. How do you deal with these issues?

 

The HASTAC Community, Standards and Seeing Interdisciplinary Connections

 

This year, I’m a HASTAC Scholar, which means I’m blogging both on this site and on theirs. Actually, since this site is mostly for announcements, I do most of my blogging over at HASTAC nowadays. I’m posting part of this entry here to help spur more discussion about these topics.

http://hastac.org/blogs/michacardenas/2011/11/26/hastac-community-standards-and-interdisciplinarity

The recent discussion in the thread Community Standards for Virtual Spaces was spurred by, among other posts, my post of Elle Mehrmand’s performance fauxlographic. The post contained an image from the performance which contained nudity, and therefore the HASTAC site admins edited my post to remove the image and link to the UCSD Visual Art Department‘s website which is hosting the image. I wish that this wasn’t two weeks before the end of the semester and I didn’t have two papers to write, on top of conference papers, publisher deadlines and deadlines for galleries for spring shows, so that I had more time to respond. Still, I am eager to post a few thoughts in response to the very rich discussions which have taken place in the standards forum.

First, I want to state in response to Fiona’s self described “disjointed” comment, which was actually very compelling and apparently very heartfelt, that I love HASTAC. I have met some of my nearest and dearest colleagues in academic thanks to HASTAC, as well as developed sone wonderful friendships. I even met my current PhD advisor, Jack Halberstam, in the HASTAC forum on Queer and Feminist New Media Spaces. I am joining in this discussion with the best of intentions, in order to participate as a HASTAC scholar in making HASTAC as amazing, participatory and transformative as I believe it can be. I am so grateful to the HASTAC scholars, to Fiona and Cathy and everyone who makes HASTAC possible and holds open this space for artistic, academic and theoretical experimentation.

Second, I am very concerned about the suggestion that the legal Terms of Service be used as the basis for the Community Standards document. Among other things, the Terms of Service prohibits posting any material which is “offensive… vulgar, obscene, profane, or is racially, ethnically or is otherwise objectionable;… (iii) Content that is pornographic, sexually explicit or contains nudity; … Content which contains software, software viruses… links to other websites that contain Content not in compliance with the Terms of Service” These restrictions, as I understand them, could be easily interpreted to disallow Critical Code Studies discussions of software code for computer viruses, The Queer and Feminist New Media forum’s discussion of Monica Ong’s skin whitening remedy for asian women, Alexis Lothian’s vidding discussion which links to erotic (possibly pornographic) vid remixes of Battlestar Galactica, and a whole host of other very important discussions on HASTAC regarding the intersections of digital culture with art, race, gender, sex and ability and how those intersections inform our understanding of comtemporary power and social control.

The point made by John Carter McKnight is central, I think, in that the real problem here is self-policing at the risk of preventing important discussions of contemporary issues. I cited Ai Weiwei’s recent tweet saying “if they see nudity as pornography then china is stuck in the Qing dynasty” not to be snarky, but to point to the fact that these issues are very contemporary and global. The removal of Elle Mehrmand’s poster for fauxlographic cannot be separated from the fact that her performance is about Iran and Wikileaks. Her body parts as covered or uncovered in that flyer are a direct response to the headscarves worn by Muslim women and the perception of certain types of bodies as terrorist bodies, the agency of women to choose to over or uncover themselves and the rhetorics of American exceptionalism which would present the US as a rational place of democracy in contrast to an oppressive regime which forces women to cover their bodies in order to justify military action against Iran.

By removing her flyer, HASTAC is reproducing the act of forcing women’s bodies to be covered up which Iran and other middle eastern countries are accused of as a justification for war, and doing so under a heteronormative rhetoric of protecting the children.

Read the rest at HASTAC.org