[-empyre-] on working queerly with media

Amanda Phillips aphillips at umail.ucsb.edu
Thu Jun 7 15:41:21 EST 2012

On Tue, Jun 5, 2012 at 4:02 PM, Zach Blas <zachblas at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.
<3 <# (Cylon heart, courtesy of Alexis Lothian, who should totally jump in
about now!)

> 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?

For me, engaging queerly with technology is about tinkering, hacking,
modding - working around the system to create our own circuits of meaning.
The mainstream modding community is not often invested in queer politics,
but some of them, like the Mass Effect fans digging up unused same-sex
relationship dialogues or those who hack different gendered Commander
Shepard avatars into the romance scenes. Obviously work like Micha's and
Zach's would be some kind of ultimate expression of this, but I'm really
fascinated by fan works as well.

> 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.
There's certainly a lot of benefit to reminding new media scholars that
we're not quite beyond the human yet. Of course Kate Hayles and others have
been warning us away from this for a long time now, but even in game
studies I see formalist questions of technology taking precedence over
cultural questions. This is one of the major interventions #transformDH is
trying to make.

i’ll post again soon on faces because i’ve been dying to talk with
> amanda about this!
If you haven't started working on your response, I'd like to toss you a
question that relates to all of this discussion - I'm interested in what
you bring out in D&G about fleeing the face in Fag Face. However, it
strikes me as a bit of a colorblind proposition. How do you account for the
racialized face and the ways in which some people simply cannot flee the
face, even if we try to become anonymous?

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