[-empyre-] on working queerly with media

Zach Blas zachblas at gmail.com
Wed Jun 6 09:02:32 EST 2012

hi all, sorry it took me a few days to jump in. i left la for the
weekend and ventured out into the desert, which slowed everything

margaret, amanda, and micha have already brought up many wonderful
thoughts and comments. i’m so grateful to you all and so happy to
begin this month with your beautiful and powerful ideas.

based on the discussion so far, i’d really like to pick up on the
undercurrent of this conversation, which to me reads as “what does it
mean to do new media work queerly?” i think this gets to margaret’s
question about formalism as well as the various issues and topics
we’ve already touched on, like avatar faciality, or race and
transgender. as queer new media scholars, artists, or combinations of,
how do you produce your work queerly? what are your relationships to
form and content? amanda, margaret, micha, and i have all been
involved in HASTAC. like the digital humanities, what are your
investments in producing media or “multi-modal scholarship,” as kate
hayles calls this. have we seen queer multi-modal scholarship yet?
what would be the intellectual, political, and artistic stakes in this
type of work? one point that has always stood out to me is how little
cross-over there has been between media theory proper and queer
theory. sure, queer theory has engaged media objects, but i can think
of very little mixtures of these two. in my own work, i have been
interested in bringing figures like katherine halyes, wendy chun, and
alex galloway in dialogue with jack halberstam or jose munoz. what are
your thoughts on the intersections of media theory and queer theory,
and what does that mean to you in relation to your queer new media
work? for example, in the exploit by alex galloway and eugene thacker,
they make a provocative point that today to write theory is to write
code, which for them, means being technically engaged. this is
partially what got be super interested in queer codes and queer
programming languages. what are your thoughts on queer technics? how
do you engage queerly with technology?

in general, today media theory is very interested in the nonhuman (as
an example, take the network--something nonhuman), while queer theory
always stays with the human. by bringing media & queer theory
together, what new relationships can we develop between the human and
the nonhuman--and what kind of politics or political interventions do
we gain from forging such relationships.

i think all this gets to another point margaret made. she asks, “what
does queer-theoretically, artistically, and politically--offer and
intervene in the field of new media studies and new media art?” as we
discuss this large and important question, i think this is partly
answered by how we do our scholarship and art.

i think part of queer new media work is definitely about the messy. i
know that micha and i are both in phd programs that we feel not
necessarily in-sync with. i think part of the work micha and i are
invested in is about messing up the boundaries between scholarship,
theoretical research, artistic practice, and activism. maybe this is
one of the strengths of queer new media? or could be one of its

earlier, micha cited the living as form creative time book, edited by
nato thompson. there’s an essay by brian holmes in that collection on
eventwork, which is about the coming together of social movements,
media work, theory, and art. this concept of eventwork is nothing less
than ways of living. this might be bold but i think the queer new
media work we do strives to be in sync with such eventworks.

..and with such questions as eventwork, maybe we get to "queer is everywhere"?

i’d really love to hear all of your thoughts on doing new media work queerly!

i’ll post again soon on faces because i’ve been dying to talk with
amanda about this!

zach blas
artist & phd candidate
literature, information science + information studies, visual studies
duke university

More information about the empyre mailing list