[-empyre-] Week 4 - Bio/Nano/Materialisms

Zach Blas zachblas at gmail.com
Sun Jun 24 02:50:21 EST 2012

Hi all, Micha and I would like to thank everyone for joining us on
empyre these last 3 weeks, especially all of our featured guests.

In the last few weeks, we’ve discussed approaches to queerness and
media through computation, the nonhuman, affect, and the digital
humanities. For our last week, we’ll be shifting to the scale of
bio/nano materialisms.

In feminist theory, there has been a turn toward new materialisms,
notably in the works of Rosi Braidott, Elizabeth Grosz, Luciana
Parisi, and Jane Bennett. In an art context, there is a long lineage
of feminist and queer artists working with and altering the
materialities of their bodies.

This week’s guests fall somewhere in between theoretical materialisms
and material artistic practices. During our last week of Queer Media
Art & Theory, we’ll discuss how these artists and writers work with
matter and materiality at bio/nano scales and consider how they
approach feminism and queerness.

Ricardo Dominguez’s collective project *particle group* explores the
implications of nanotechnology and capitalism by imagining various
nano patent scenarios and opening fabbing possibilities.
http://pitmm.net/ http://medialab-prado.es/mmedia/1779/view/?lang=en

Pinar Yoldas’ work engages mutation, genitalia, and alien species in
her speculative biologies work:

Elle Mehrmand has experimented with biosensors and the body in
attempts to explore biopolitical relations between humans and nonhuman
agents, like the virus. Her work virus.cirus with Micha Cárdenas can
be seen here: http://elleelleelle.org/

Heather Davis, a writer currently based in Montreal, is in the process
of editing an issue of No More Potlucks on dirt, so I’m sure she’ll
have much to say on dirt, materiality, and queerness. Heather is also
starting a post-doc with Elizabeth Grosz at Duke in the fall, so
she’ll probably also have some interesting comments to share with us
on feminist materialisms. http://nomorepotlucks.org/site/

To get us started, can the guests begin by saying more about these
practices / projects I’ve mentioned? How does working at bio/nano
scales affect your practices as well as impact your understandings and
relations to queerness and feminism? What is important for you about
queer/feminist interventions at these scales? How do you conduct this
work--with science labs, collaborators, etc.?

Thanks & Welcome!

Guests this week are:

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

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).

Elle Mehrmand (US) is a new media performance artist and musician who
uses the body, electronics, video, sound and installation within her
work. She is the singer and trombone player of Assembly of Mazes, a
music collective who creates dark, electronic, middle eastern,
rhythmic jazz rock. Elle is currently a Lecturer at UCSD in the Visual
Arts Department, where she received her MFA in 2011. She is part of
the electronic disturbance theatre 2.0 and the b.a.n.g. Lab, and has
been a researcher at CRCA <Center for Research and Computing in the
Arts> at UCSD. Her work has been shown internationally at venues such
as, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions <LACE>, the Museum of
Contemporary Art San Diego <MCASD>, Highways Performance Space, Orange
County Museum of Art <OCMA>, UCLA Freud Playhouse, CECUT, the Nevada
Museum of Art, and the Gallery of the Nat'l College of Art and Design.
Her work has been discussed in Art21, the LA Times, Juxtapoz Magazine,
Networked Performance, the OC Weekly, Furtherfield.org, the CityBeat
and VICE magazine.

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 .

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

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