[-empyre-] queer is everywhere

Margaret Rhee mrhee at berkeley.edu
Sun Jun 3 17:36:49 EST 2012

Greetings all. Thank you Micha and Zach for curating an amazing queer
dialogue for the month of June! It will be nice to celebrate ‘pride’ or
‘shame’ virtually this month and with the amazing thinkers and artists
you’ve curated and new friends of empyre. Thank you Renate Ferro for the
kind introduction to the listserve. It is exciting to discuss queer new
media art here. And it is always great to reengage on queer new media art
with dear friend Amanda Phillips again, of course.  In response to the
emails sent, I have a few thoughts in response and discussion.
I’m interested in queer family romance? New media as queer? Queer as new

In April I participated in a roundtable with Martin Manalansan who said,
“Queer is Messy.”  I loved that so much.  I’m also interested in “Queer is
Trouble.” and right now, how “Queer is Everywhere.”

I love Shu Lea Cheang’s 'Brandon' because it honors the memory of Brandon
Teena in such a poignant, political, and participatory way, but also love
how the piece and Shu Lea Cheang’s positionality troubles the boundaries
of ‘new media art’ ‘asian american art’ ‘queer art.' So yes, I believe
there is such a thing as queer new media art as Micha asks, but I’m also
interested in how queer new media art tends to make a mess, to trouble,
and demonstrates how it is everywhere, even if you don’t think you see it.
 Because we want to try to have all folks regardless of sexual preference
or gender identity, etc,  as Cathy Davidson writes to See It… ie everyone
is queer, and/or can be queer. or should be queer.

In terms of new media art, I’m interested in questions of formalism. ie as
you write Micha in regards to Cathy’s work, the paperback novel was an
invention and is new media. Today’s digital ecology allows for a myriad of
queer relationships between the old and the new for artists. I also think
that is queer. Im thinking about my dear friend artist and poet Jai Arun
Ravine’s work as a dancer, poet, and filmmaker of the transmasculine
diasporia. The boundaries between forms are blurred which trouble our
assumptions and boundaries of embodiment. ie new media forces us to think
outside the frames of the national/transnational, dancer/poet, het/homo…


Right now, I am reminded of the images of tulips on the window in front of
me, which overlooks rice paddies of the beautiful countryside of Korea. I
am here for the week until I leave for Yonsei, and I’ll be writing you all
from here. Did you all know tulips are intersex? Did you know the most
precious kinds of tulips are viral?

If we can believe Art Is Everywhere” we can think about how “Queer is
Everywhere” as we walk through the days of our living. and trying to be

So to begin

I want to share with you my narrative mapping of

Queer is everywhere. Here.

Yesterday.  Enroute to the “Human and Machine” posthumanism conference. 
On the subway going to Seoul from Kyunggi.  Four boys (around 11 or 12?)
are playing Kai, Bai, Bo! on the subway.  They are all hysterically
laughing, making a ruckus, having great fun. The loser has to run out the
subway door at the next stop, touch a wall, and run back in time.  Two of
the boys were wearing wigs, long flowing black hair with fashionable
bangs.  If they didn’t speak and laugh, they could pass.  I wish I took a
photo but I didn’t because sometimes moments like that just are.


I was on my way to the posthumanism conference of the transhumanities at
Ehwa University. It’s my first time in Korea.  I love seeing the young
boys, hearing their laughter, and admiring their wigs, such a wonderful
sign. I feel at home.

At the Human and Machine conference, I recognize the Korean camera
operator as a butch.  I love her swagger, how the side of her hair is
queerly fashionably shaved off, how she places the camera and positions it
so adamantly with her hands.  I think she sees me too. I wonder if others
know.  Does she pass?

A new Korean friend escorted me around Seoul yesterday from the subway to
the conference and throughout the day’s events.  After the conference, she
told me, I think the speaker was surprised when you opened your mouth and
spoke perfect English, because you look 100% Korean.

Do I pass?

My early undergraduate work was an analysis of LGBTQ images in a Korean
American magazine.  That research was all about me.  ie as an
undergraduate I wondered why was it so hard to be Korean American and
LGBTQ? Why was there homophobia in the KA community? What knowledge and
intervention could media offer us? That thesis was published as my first
academic article in a 2006 issue of Amerasia Journal on same sex marriage


Some questions always remain.

A queer Korean studies colleague of mine, Brian, just moved to Seoul and
we meet in 이태원 yesterday night after the conference.  We decided to grab
some beers and eat dinner at an Eastern European restaurant. The waiter
came by, and says hi.  From his eyeliner and his fabulous swish, we confer
that he’s family.

Brian tells me later, you still have to be careful, here.

On my plane trip to Seoul from the U.S, I sat next to a young man from the
U.S. from Seattle, of Swedish descent, he teaches English in Korea, and he
wants to be a fiction writer.  We become friends.  He asks me why I was
going to Korea. I tell him about the Queer Feminist conference I will be
presenting at Yonsei University.  Oh, he says, I’m interested in that
topic because my mother is a lesbian too.

I decide I like him not because he's queer spawn but its evident he loves
his mother very much and he seems like a good person.

Is Queer everywhere.
Is Media everywhere.
Are We everywhere.


> For week 1, Zach and I have invited two digital humanities scholars to
> get the month's discussion started with us.
> The term new media is clearly problematic, and we wish to further
> problematize and think through this. Cathy Davidson writes in Now You
> See It that the paperback novel was once seen as new media, carrying
> with it the same accusations that digital technologies today receive:
> distracting, corrupting, pulling users into another world. Perhaps a
> better term is queer digital media, as we are interested in the
> intersections of queerness with digital technologies, networked
> technologies and forms we may see as post-network or post-digital,
> like alternate reality gaming. But digital media also seems to be
> inadequate today, given developments in bio and nanotechnologies.
> To say that Queer New Media is emerging is not to deny that it exists.
> It is crucial to acknowledge important inspirations such as Shu Lea
> Cheang, VNS Matrix, Subrosa, Cyberfeminist and new media artists and
> theorists who have considered the emerging possibilities for
> embodiment resulting from new technologies.
> To start some discussion, here are a few questions:
> What are the relations you see and understand today between queerness
> and new media? What is it that makes you desire (or not desire)
> engaging this topic?
> Do you agree that queer new media or queer media art is an emerging
> art movement? Or art/theory/political movement?
> What current artists do you think are doing or have done queer new
> media? Are you? Who are your inspirations?
> This week's guests are:
> Guests:
> Amanda Phillips (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.
> Weclome! And let’s start discussing!
> --
> micha cárdenas
> PhD Student, Media Arts and Practice, University of Southern California
> Provost Fellow, University of Southern California
> New Directions Scholar, USC Center for Feminist Research
> MFA, Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego
> Author, The Transreal: Political Aesthetics of Crossing Realities,
> http://amzn.to/x8iJcY
> blog: http://transreal.org
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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