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

Morehshin Allahyari morehshin at gmail.com
Sun Apr 26 04:52:56 AEST 2015

I have constantly thought about and re-defined both my Middle-Eastern
female identity, as well as my identity as a woman in the field of art and
technology. I have gradually become aware of and resisted the female
identity defined by—for instance—the work of artists like Shirin Neshat.
This is something that comes up in my daily discussions with other/younger
female colleagues from the Middle-East: how we feel distanced from the
presentation and re-presentation of women in the work of older generation
artists (in this case from Iran)... That in fact, we are eager to re-define
these clichés and—in most cases—one-dimensional interpretations and
exoticized or stereotypical images of women of the Middle-East.

I can see that all of you (Claudia, Dorothy, and Margaret) in one way or
another explore issues related to Feminism both in your work/research as
well as daily life interactions and activities... To answer Dorothy's
question, I think one of the ways for me to try to help sustaining
visibility of WOC and also continue to represent myself and my work is to
invite more female artists and especially non-western female artists to
shows, talks, and events that I organize. In the last two years also, I
have been counting and paying attention to the number of male and female
participants and artists in the new media shows and have even gone as far
as emailing the curators who have not included women or a balanced number
of women in the exhibitions and events that they curate, asking them why
and how they have made those decisions... BUT also, in the last 3 years or
so, I have been more and more hesitant about accepting to be in -for
example- "Only Iranian Women" exhibitions. I just have felt that shows like
that creates a sense of "otherness" that I have felt uncomfortable to be a
part of. I think I am so much more than just an Iranian Female Artist and
although I am inspired by those definitions in my practice and
understanding of my identity, I feel uncomfortable about being framed and
presented in such a limiting definition and presentation of who I am.

Would love to hear more from all of you about some of these thoughts and


On Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 8:24 AM, Dorothy Santos <dorothy.r.santos at gmail.com>

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> 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
> play.
> --
> 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
> <http://tinyletter.com/dorothysantos>
> 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
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu


Morehshin Allahyari
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