[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 4 on -empyre-: New Media / Art / Representation

Morehshin Allahyari morehshin at gmail.com
Fri Apr 24 05:23:51 AEST 2015

Hello and many thanks to Soraya for the invitation. I am excited to be a
part of this discussion!

As the citizen of Iran and residence of the United States my work directly
and indirectly deals with the complexity of being in between and also
concepts related to representation of identity. I use digital tools and
technology, narrative, political and social practice as ways of approaching
issues usually concerning the Middle-East and Iran. For this discussion,
specifically, I would like to focus on three concepts which I also know
overlaps with the work of some of my co-panelists here: 1- Identity
Politics, 2- Feminist Identity + Female Bodies (different modes of
Feminism, for example Middle-East vs the West), 3- Representation of
identity in virtual/digital world vs. physical world. Within these topics,
I was hoping that I could talk about two body of work, one created in 2014
and one still in progress. Below is a start of this conversation (more
details to add/discuss in the coming days):

*1- Like Pearls (2014):* A netart project called “Like Pearls” which is a
mashup of GIFs, text, and images that I’ve collaged together from my Farsi
Spam emails about lingerie that i received in one year. As the audience
scrolls through the website, there are pop-up messages that will show if
you click on hyperlinked images… the messages highlight the misogynistic
aspect of these spam and a critique to the objectification of female bodies
using these underwear advertisements as an encouragement of relationships.

In this project, I was interested to delve into the cultural, religious,
and social references of romance, sex, and online shopping from these spam
emails. The text and the kitsch aesthetics of these spam was something that
caught my attention. The more research I did, the more I became amazed by
these Iranian online stores that sold underwear and roses (all in one
package) but also mostly encouraged men to buy them for their wives and
lovers. Also, the visual aspect of these censored bodies of the women in
these online advertisements was surreal… because of the juxtaposition
between what the message and purpose of the images were and how they were
eventually censored (pay attention to the white and colorful textures used
to cover the bodies) due to limitations for these websites (many based in
Iran) in showing nudity. So in a way this project deals with both female
identities and the representation of female bodies in two different
cultures. In a way, it explores the polar opposite of objectification of
women bodies in both the Islamic and Western cultures.

Here is a website for this project: http://likepearls.com/

*2- In Mere Spaces All Things Are Side by Side I (in progress):* The first
video from a series of experimental 3D animation project taken from my
personal experiences of using internet in Iran and its limitation, failure,
slowness and inaccessibility.  It uses these experiences and a selection of
my chat archive from a 4 years online relationship with an American guy as
a point of departure to poetically explore the invisible and less discussed
+ privileged aspects of the net in a developing country and my very own
relationship with the virtual world. As a teenager in Iran, internet became
a window to the world I otherwise could not have an access to, yet it was
limited and censored. So in this video series I am interested in exploring
how “internet” shaped my identity and understanding of the “outside” world
around me both in the virtual and physical world… how also in a way I was
limited to the representation of “who I was” due to the limitation of the
net as well as language (having to speak English so that I could connect
and communicate with those I met online).

Here is a link to watch the video: https://vimeo.com/108968300

As I mentioned, there is much more to discuss and delve into. I am looking
forward to hearing about other panelists projects and to continue this
conversation with all of you.

Thank you!


On Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 12:35 PM, Soraya Murray <semurray at ucsc.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear All,
> As we enter into our fourth and final week of our April 2015 discussion
> dedicated to Digital Media and the Interstices of Identity, please help me
> welcome our new listserv members and conversation participants.
> Like each of the previous weeks, I'm interested to first hear from our
> four esteemed guests about their sense of the terrain. I would like to
> begin by asking each of our discussants to talk a little bit about a recent
> project, and outline some of their intellectual investments, or individual
> "stake" in the week's topic. What do each of you feel are the key questions
> or challenges at play?
> Week 4 Discussants: New Media / Art / Representation
> Morehshin Allahyari (Iran/USA)  / Claudia Hart (USA / Margaret Rhee (USA)
> / Dorothy R. Santos (USA)
> MOREHSHIN ALLAHYARI is a new media artist, art activist, educator, and
> cultural curator. She was born and raised in Iran and moved to the United
> States in 2007. Her practice is grounded in questions of political and
> cultural contradictions that we face every day. As a citizen of Iran and
> resident of the United States, she looks for a mutually constitutive
> relationship of politics, people, and places through the use of digital
> technologies, narrative, and social practice. Morehshin has been part of
> numerous national and international exhibitions, festivals, and workshops
> around the world. She has presented her work and creative research in
> various conferences and universities including TED conference, Nasher
> Sculpture Center, Dallas Museum of Art, CAA conference, Open Engagement,
> Prospectives ’12 International Festival of Digital Art, and Currents New
> Media Festival, and elsewhere.  Her work has been featured in Rhizome,
> Hyperallergic, Animal New York, Huffington Post, NPR, Creators Project,
> Parkett Art Magazine, Art Actuel magazine, Neural Magazine, Global Voices
> Online, BBC Persia, among others. She is currently working on a new series
> of 3D animations and 3D printing sculptures called “In Mere Spaces All
> Things Are Side By Side” with focus on the limitations and access to the
> internet in developing countries, using her adolescence Yahoo chat archive
> as a point of departure. Morehshin is currently an artist in residence at
> AUTODESK’s Pier9 Art Program.
> Claudia Hart is Associate Professor, of Film, Video, New Media, and
> Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. (2007-pres). Her
> degrees include a BA, 1978, New York University; MS, 1984, Columbia
> University. Her work has been presented in many notable venues including:
> Wood Street New Media Galleries, Pittsburgh; bitforms, New York; Catharine
> Clark, San Francisco; PS 122; Andrew Edlin, New York; Sandra Gering, New
> York; Center for Contemporary Art, Geneva; Banff Center, Canada; PS1.
> Publications: Child's Machiavelli, Dr. Faustie's Guide to Real Estate
> Development. Collections: Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan
> Museum of Art; New School, New York; San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art;
> Museum of Contemporary Art, Berlin. Professor Hart has received many awards
> including: Ellen Stone Bellic Institute; Illinois Arts Council; and the
> National Endowment for the Arts.
> MARGARET RHEE is a feminist poet, new media artist, and scholar. Her
> research broadly focuses on technology, and intersections with feminist,
> queer, and ethnic studies. Her scholarship has been published at Amerasia
> Journal, Information Society, Cinema Journal, and Sexuality Research and
> Social Policy. With Dr. Brittney Cooper, she co-edited "Hacking the
> Black/White Binary," a special issue of Ada: A Journal on Gender,
> Technology, and New Media. As a new media artist she is co-lead and
> conceptualist of From the Center a feminist HIV/AIDS digital storytelling
> education project implemented in the San Francisco Jail (
> www.ourstorysf.org). For this project, she was awarded the Chancellor’s
> Award in Public Service from UC Berkeley and the Yamashita Prize Honorable
> Mention for young activists by the Center for Social Change. Her current
> work is focused on the intersections of tangible computing, poetry, and
> ethnicity: www.kimchipoetryproject.com. She served on the board of
> directors for social justice organizations, DataCenter and the Queer Women
> of Color Media Arts Project. Currently, she is the Institute of American
> Cultures Visiting Researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles.
> She holds a Ph.D. in ethnic studies and new media studies from the
> University of California, Berkeley.
> DOROTHY R. SANTOS is a writer, editor, and curator whose research areas
> and interests include new media and digital art, programming, the internet,
> augmented reality, online performance, gaming, open source culture, and
> political aesthetics. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she
> holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University
> of San Francisco, and received her Master's degree in Visual and Critical
> Studies at the California College of the Arts.
> Her master's thesis Narratives of Marginalized Bodies: Exploring Third
> Space in Contemporary New Media and Digital Art (2014) focused on new media
> and digital artists who interrogate the body as the site of interaction in
> relationship to architecture, augmented and virtual spaces. Through her
> investigation of the body’s mediation through haptic technologies and
> gamification, she argued that the unorthodox applications of mass media
> technologies reveal critical narratives of obscured and marginalized people.
> She serves as an editor for the new asterisk magazine and Hyphen Her work
> appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Hyperallergic, and Public
> Art Dialogue. She has lectured and spoken at the de Young museum, Yerba
> Buena Center for the Arts, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, School
> of Visual Arts, and San Francisco Art Institute. During the day, she works
> for Fusion.net as the Office and Social Media manager for The Real Future
> team led by Alexis Madrigal. The rest of the time, she serves as executive
> staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism and a board member for
> the SOMArts Cultural Center.
> Soraya
> ___________________________
> Soraya Murray, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Film + Digital Media Department
> University of California, Santa Cruz
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu


Morehshin Allahyari
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