[-empyre-] Welcome to December on -empyre-: Social Media/ Social Justice

Renate Ferro rtf9 at cornell.edu
Sat Dec 6 04:45:52 EST 2014

Welcome to December, 2014 on –empyre soft-skinned space:
We have listed guests below but there may be others added as the month

Social Media / Social Justice

Moderated by Renate Ferro (US) and Tim Murray (US) with invited guests
December 5th to the 8th:  Week 1: Renate Ferro (US) , Tim Murray (US),
Patricia Zimmermann (US)

December 9th to the 15th: Week 2: Ricardo Dominguez (US), Rahul
Mukherjee (IN, US) , Richard Grusin (US)

December 16th to the 21st:  Week 3: Patrick Lichty (US),  Nicholas
Knouf (US), Cherian George (HK), Omar Figueredo  (US)

For the month of December, -empyre- proposes a discussion of the
relation of social media to efforts in acquiring social justice and
social change.  The complexities of this issue were foregrounded in
the past weeks by a number of international events.   The District
Attorney in Ferguson, Missouri, lashed out at social media for
questioning the grand jury’s case that failed to indict Darren Wilson
-- the white policeman who shot down the unarmed black eighteen
year-old, Michael Brown.  Social media actions also protested the
disappearance of 43 college students in Iguala, Mexico.  Across the
globe, a variety of social media actions contributed to the umbrella
protests in Hong Kong.  Throughout the past few years, moreover,
members of –empyre- have had occasion to reflect on rough parallels
between social media and social justice in other geopolitical cases,
perhaps most tellingly in relation to the Arab Spring.

Given the timeliness of this topic, we have decided to suspend the
discussion planned for December in order to invite –empyreans- and
leading thinkers in this area to share their thoughts before taking a
holiday break toward the end of the month.  Our hope is both to
reflect on the particular issues raised by the Ferguson controversy in
the U.S. and to discuss parallel examples on the international stage.

Participants might be interested in discussing not only how the flow
of information over social media might facilitate efforts toward
social justice but also how new media software and interfaces might
themselves make specific contributions to social struggle.  Might we
also reflect on appropriations of social media by authorities or
reactionary communities opposed to social justice?  Others may be
interested in introducing the –empyre- community to their public or
academic programs in the broad area of social media and social justice
across the globe.

Newer members of –empyre- may be interested in reviewing some past
discussions that have touched indirectly on this topic, such as these
discussions over the past three years:

May 2013 May: Collaboration: Art Practice, Theory, Activism

June 2012 Queer Media Art and Theory

February 2011, New Media and the Middle East

Renate Ferro (US) is Managing Co-Moderator of –empyre- and a
conceptual artist working in emerging technology and culture. Most
recently her work has been featured at The Freud Museum (London), The
Dorksy Gallery (NY), The Hemispheric Institute and FOMMA (Mexico), The
Janus Pannonius Muzeum (Hungary), and The Free University Berlin
(Germany).  Her work has been published in such journals as
Diacritics, Theatre Journal, and Epoch.  Ferro is a Visiting Assistant
Professor in the Department of Art at Cornell University teaching
digital media and theory. She also directs the Tinker Factory, a
creative research lab for Research Design, Creativity, and
Interdisciplinary Research.

Tim Murray (US) is Managing Co-Moderator of –empyre-, Curator of the
Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Director of the Society for the
Humanities and Professor of Comparative Literature and English at
Cornell University.  He sits on the Executive Committee of the
Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory
(HASTAC) and is author of Digital Baroque: New Media Art and Cinematic
Folds (Minnesota 2008) and Zonas de Contacto: el arte en CD-ROM
(Centro de la imagen, 1999).  He is editing volumes on Jean-Luc Nancy
and Xu Bing.

With monthly guests:
Week 1:
Patricia Zimmermann (US)is professor of screen studies at Ithaca
College.  She also serves codirector of the Finger Lakes Environmental
Film Festival (http://www.ithaca.edu/fleff), a multidisciplinary
festival that embraces and interrogates sustainability across all of
its forms-- economic, social, ecological, political, cultural,
technological, aesthetic and  sustainable development--through film,
video, new media, installation, performance, literature, music,
panels, and dialogues.   She is the author of Reel Families: A Social
History of Amateur Film  (Indiana)and States of Emergency:
Documentaries, Wars, Democracies (Minnesota) as well as coeditor of
Mining the Home Movie:  Excavations in Histories and Memories
(California).  With coauthor Dale Hudson, her forthcoming book is
Thinking through Digital Media:  Transnational Environments and
Locative Places (Palgrave), to be published in Spring 2015, which
examines over 130 new media and performance projects from across the
globe. She was the Ida Beam Professor in Cinema and Comparative
Literature at the University of Iowa and the Shaw Foundation Professor
of New Media in the School of Communication and Information at Nanyang
Technological University in Singapore. She also serves as an envoy for
documentary film and new media for the American Film Showcase of the
US State Department. She has published over 200 scholarly essays and
journalistic articles on documentary, media history,  screen theory,
and new media in Screen, Genders,  Journal of Film and Video,
Afterimage, Framework, Asian Communications Quarterly, Cinema Journal,
Wide Angle, Cultural Studies, DOX, Film History, Socialist Review,
Journal of Communications Inquiry, Afterimage, The Moving Image. The
Independent, Gannett Newspapers,  Afterimage.  Website:

Week 2:
Ricardo Dominguez (US)is a co-founder of The Electronic Disturbance
Theater (EDT), a group who developed virtual sit-in technologies in
with the Zapatistas communities in Chiapas, Mexico, in 1998. His recent
Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab project
(http://bang.transreal.org/) with Brett Stalbaum, Micha Cardenas, Amy
Sara Carroll, and Elle Mehrmand, the Transborder Immigrant Tool (a GPS
cell phone safety net tool for crossing the Mexico/US border) was the
winner of “Transnational Communities Award” (2008), an award funded by
Cultural Contact, Endowment for Culture Mexico–US and handed out by
the US Embassy in Mexico. It also was funded by CALIT2 and the UCSD
Center for the Humanities. The Transborder Immigrant Tool has been
exhibited at the 2010 California Biennial (OCMA), Toronto Free
Gallery, Canada (2011), The Van Abbemuseum, Netherlands (2013), ZKM,
Germany (2013), as well as a number of other national and
international venues. The project was also under investigation by the
US Congress in 2009-2010 and was reviewed by Glenn Beck in 2010 as a
gesture that potentially “dissolved” the U.S. border with its poetry.
Dominguez is an associate professor at the University of California,
San Diego, in the Visual Arts Department, a Hellman Fellow, and
Principal/Principle Investigator at CALIT2 and the Performative
Nano-Robotics Lab at SME, UCSD. He also is co-founder of *particle
group*, with artists Diane Ludin, Nina Waisman, Amy Sara Carroll,
whose art project about nano-toxicology entitled *Particles of
Interest: Tales of the Matter Market* has been presented at the House
of World Cultures, Berlin (2007), the San Diego Museum of Art (2008),
Oi Futuro, Brazil (2008), CAL NanoSystems Institute, UCLA (2009),
Medialab-Prado, Madrid (2009), E-Poetry Festival, Barcelona, Spain
(2009), Nanosférica, NYU (2010), and SOMA, Mexico City, Mexico (2012,
and the Cornell Biennial, “Intimate Cosmologies: The Aesthetics of
Scale in an Age of Nanotechnology,” (2014).  *particle group*

Richard Grusin (US) is Director of the Center for 21st Century Studies
and Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a
position he assumed in July 2010.  He received his Ph.D. in 1983 from
the University of California-Berkeley.  He has published numerous
chapters and articles and written four books.  The first,
Transcendentalist Hermeneutics: Institutional Authority and the Higher
Criticism of the Bible (Duke, 1991), concerns the influence of
European (primarily German) theories of biblical interpretation on the
New England Transcendentalists.  His more recent work concerns
historical, cultural, and aesthetic aspects of technologies of visual
representation.  With Jay David Bolter he is the author of
Remediation: Understanding New Media (MIT, 1999), which sketches out a
genealogy of new media, beginning with the contradictory visual logics
underlying contemporary digital media; Remediation has become required
reading for undergraduates and graduate students in the field of new
media studies. Culture, Technology, and the Creation of America’s
National Parks (Cambridge, 2004), focuses on the problematics of
visual representation involved in the founding of America's national
parks.  His fourth book, Premediation: Affect and Mediality After 9/11
(Palgrave, 2010), argues that in an era of heightened securitization,
socially networked US and global media work to pre-mediate collective
affects of anticipation and connectivity, while also perpetuating low
levels of apprehension or fear. As Director of the Center for 21st
Century Studies he has organized three successful international
conferences: The Nonhuman Turn in 21st Century Studies; Dark Side of
the Digital; and Anthropocene Feminism.  He is currently editing books
based upon the plenary addresses for these conferences.

Rahul Mukherjee (IN, US) is Assistant Professor of Television and New
Media Studies in the Cinema Studies Program, Department of English at
University of Pennsylvania. He is working towards conceptualizing the
materiality of mediated technoscience publics based on case studies of
environmental debates related to cell towers and nuclear energy.

Week 3
Omar Figueredo (US)is current a PhD candidate in Hispanic Literature
at Cornell University. His dissertation "Tender Struggles: Affect and
Emotions in the Writings of Helena María Viramontes, H.G. Carrillo,
and Manuel Muñoz" theorizes the ways in which these three contemporary
Latina/o writers model and engage in a struggle with and for
vulnerability through their writing. His writing engages with Latina/o
studies, feminist theory, and cultural studies in order to theorize
multiple modes of relation and knowing. In March 2013, Omar and his
partner Nancy Morales were arrested by police in Brownsville, Texas
after they engaged in an act of civil resistance against the U.S.
Border Patrol at the local airport. Their action and arrest were
broadcast via Livestream to witnesses across the country who
immediately mobilized to call the airport and the local jail to demand
their release.

Cherian George (HK) is a journalism researcher, practitioner, educator
and advocate who writes on media freedom issues, especially in Asia.
Originally from Singapore, he now resides in Hong Kong, where is an
associate professor at the Hong Kong Baptist University. His PhD
research at Stanford University looked at the use of the internet to
democratise journalism in Malaysia in Singapore. He is currently
writing a book about religious offence/offendedness and censorship. He
blogs at www.mediaasia.info and can also be found at

Nicholas Knouf (US) is an Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media
Studies at Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA. His research explores
the interstitial spaces between information science, critical theory,
digital art, and science and technology studies.Ongoing work includes
the Journal of Journal Performance Studies, a series of three
interrelated works on academic publishing; MAICgregator, a Firefox
extension that aggregates information about the
military-academic-industrial complex (MAIC); Fluid Nexus, a mobile
phone messaging application designed for activists and relief workers
that operates independent of a centralized network; robotic puppetry
projects that engage with psycho-socio-political imaginaries; and
sound works that encourage the expression of the unspeakable.Past and
current work has been recognized by a number awards, including an
Honorary Mention by Prix Ars Electronica in [the next idea] category
(2005), the Leonardo Abstracts Service (LABS) for his master's thesis
(2008), a memefest Award of Distinction (2008), and a special
transmediale "Online Highlight" (2009). Additionally, his work has
been discussed in print and online media, including ID Magazine, the
Boston Globe, CNN, Slashdot, and Afterimage.

Patrick LIchty (US) is a media “reality” artist, curator, and theorist
of over two decades who explores how media and mediation affect our
perception of reality. He is best known for his work as an Artistic
Director of the virtual reality performance art group Second Front,
and the animator of the activist group, The Yes Men. He is a
CalArts/Herb Alpert Fellow and Whitney Biennial exhibitor as part of
the collective RTMark. He has presented and exhibited internationally
at numerous biennials and triennials (Yokohama, Venice, Performa,
Maribor, Turin, Sundance), and conferences (ISEA, SIGGRAPH, Popular
Culture Association, SLSA, SxSW). He is also Editor-in-Chief of
Intelligent Agent Magazine, and a writer for the RealityAugmented
blog. His recent book, “Variant Analyses: Interrogations of New Media
Culture” was released by the Institute for Networked Culture, and is
included in the Oxford Handbook of Virtuality. He is a Lecturer of
Digital Studio Practice at the Peck School of the Arts in Milwaukee,


Renate Ferro
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art,
(contracted since 2004)
Cornell University
Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office:  306
Ithaca, NY  14853
Email:   <rferro at cornell.edu>
URL:  http://www.renateferro.net
Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net

Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space

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