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

Dorothy Santos dorothy.r.santos at gmail.com
Sat Apr 25 01:24:35 AEST 2015

Thank you for the introduction and including me in this necessary dialogue,
Soraya. It is an honor to be in conversation with women I deeply admire.
Based on Soraya's introduction message, I'll share my recent work, my
investments in the topic as well as the key questions and challenges at


When I first started grad school a few years ago, I genuinely (albeit
naively) thought that I would be looking at new media and digital art
through the (antiquated) lens of art history and formal elements (shape,
form, composition, etc.). Yes, I understand, now, that that was silly. Yet
the allure of formally studying art, visual culture, and critical theory
made me think of the traditional methodology and analysis. But I knew there
was something deeper despite most of my exposure to new media and digital
art (NMDA) a few years ago was primarily visual and interactive works (by
interactive, I mean haptic) that were rather superficial. As a result, I
focused on the use of the physical body as a site of interaction for
artists. I looked at generative large scale installation (Raphael
Lozano-Hemmer), augmented reality (John Craig Freeman), and virtual space
as performance space (Micha Cardenas). These artists, in particular,
brought up complicated issues regarding visibility and representation of
three marginalized bodies - the indigenous body, the immigrant body, and
the transgender body.

My current work entails text-based gaming (akin to choose your own
adventure books) to explore language as a third space to explore
experimental methods of writing and reading. I'm using the platforms text
adventures and Twine for the works (currently in progress). From sourcing
images to exploring different forms of narrative and storytelling through a
ludic experience, I'm interested in describing NMDA works in a way that
gives the reader a level of agency and choice. To re-iterate, this is quite
a lengthy project currently in progress.

Much like Morehshin, I'm also interested in feminist identity and female
bodies as a part of my research. But specifically in the vacillation
between physical to virtual especially since the gap between the two realms
seems to be narrowing as technology evolves. With advancements in the
Oculus Rift, projection mapping, and video game design, my biggest fear is
the erasure or eradication (or fetishization) of bodies that are already
marginalized. Writing is a huge part of my creative practice and I've
grappled with figuring out the language of observing, theorizing, and
writing about NMDA due to the domination of cisgender white narrative
within the discipline. In *Domain Errors: Cyberfeminist Practices*
(fantastic book by the SubRosa project - edited by Maria Fernandez, Faith
Wilding, and Michelle M. Wright), Fernandez speaks to the ideas of
difference and race as the most contentious dialogue among feminists. I
agree. Some feminists might even go as far as saying that there is very
little relevance because there is no resolution. I disagree. This
assimilationist approach does not solve or address issues confronted by
marginalized bodies especially with NMDA. This is an incredibly young genre
compared to the genealogy of other artistic practices and (canonized) art
histories. There is no better time than now to have these conversations.

I'm looking forward to the discussion that ensues. The works of my fellow
respondents push against dominant narratives (within the NMDA field as well
as feminism). The biggest challenge I face within these discussions is
getting people to see that race, gender, and class *matter* within this
realm of the arts. We can't continue to allow the lack of representation of
women of color, queer trans women of color, and people of color making art
and through their practices speaking to obscured narratives. I guess my
question to Morehshin, Claudia, and Margaret, regarding the dissemination
of information and net.art/Internet art practices moving so rapidly, what
are strategies to sustain visibility of these artistic practices (both on
and offline) to ensure a wide representation of artists in new media?

Dorothy Santos
writer + editor + curator
My bio lives here <http://about.me/dorothysantos>
Lines, Words, Places, Spaces, and Everything In-Between

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
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