[-empyre-] on feminism and the cyclical nature of tools and technologies

Simon Biggs simon at littlepig.org.uk
Thu Feb 26 08:44:34 AEDT 2015

Having the technicians teaching the technical side of things isn't only instrumentalising the technology but also saving money. I think the latter concern will be driving such a proposal.



> On 26 Feb 2015, at 08:11, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear Melinda, 
> Your voice is an important one to me and to many of our -empyre-
> subscribers and thanks for sharing your recent interests and projects. It
> is ironic that you write this generous post just as I return from a
> two-hour faculty meeting where our discussion centered around a proposal
> to separate digital tool learning from the context of art studios just as
> we do with our shop technology requiring all of our first year students to
> attend bootcamp taught by technicians. Yikes. My colleague and I (both
> women by the way) who are broad cross-disciplinary artists but teach
> digital media were horrified at this proposal for the reasons that both
> Anne and you cite: 
> WHO you earn with is as important as what you learn.
> I do not want my young artists to think of digital tools in terms of use
> value only but to think through them no differently than any other tool
> they use in a studio setting, that is critically with implied social,
> political, and cultural implications.  Learning which for me includes
> stumbling, researching, problem-solving, a messy venture and one that
> technicians do not find very efficient. Sorry, I acknowledge my biases.
> You also wrote: So tools and technologies don't need to be new,
> specialised, expensive or complex, and often the more straight fwd the
> longer lasting and more far reaching their outcomes. Thats why I used the
> rather daggy list serv format for -empyre- with plain text messages. It
> was, and still is, easy to use, easy to contain, easy to search, and has
> no distractions. In 2002 I was hoping
> ---empyre- would a space were it was safe to make propositions which left
> one a little giddy or vulnerable - but I guess the reality is text based
> interaction becomes performative in a knowledge based economy and status
> anxiety precludes these sorts of risks. Maybe I’m wrong?
> Our current moderating team has discussed the possibility of transitioning
> -empyre- over to a blog based site.  We have collectively decided thus far
> to keep it as a list serve for the many reasons you list but safety was
> not one of them. Many of our subscribers are avid readers but choose to be
> lurkers and do not post because they fear being judged or perhaps they
> feel that more responsive writing and discussion may be held against them
> at some point in the future.  Our mission remains though as often as
> possible to curate a wide-variety of viewpoints and topics and to be as
> inclusive as is possible. We encourage all of our guests not to post
> previously published papers or long written conference papers so that
> discussion is welcomed and anyone who feels up to it will join in the
> discussion.   The hope for a space that can and will work out new
> potentials is a utopia but I think most of us do not want to let go of
> that ideal. Our own list-serve acknowledges that the tension between
> writing as a performative gesture and one that is conversational, probing,
> vulnerable or giddy provides an interesting interstitial space. A space
> that can be informative but also one that is inquisitive and questioning.
> To manage -empyre- is a tremendous amount of work and we really do hope
> that younger ­empyreans will step up to take over some of the logistics of
> running the list-serv.  Melinda is -empyre- the longest-running list-serve
> on new media and networked culture?
> Thanks also for the historical background on its conception.
> Renate
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Assistant Professor of Art,Cornell University
> Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office:  306
> Ithaca, NY  14853
> Email:   <rferro at cornell.edu <mailto:rtf9 at cornell.edu>>
> URL:  http://www.renateferro.net <http://www.renateferro.net/>
>      http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net
> <http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net/>
> Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net <http://www.tinkerfactory.net/>
> Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/
> _______________________________________________
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Simon Biggs
simon at littlepig.org.uk


simon.biggs at unisa.edu.au
Professor of Art, University of South Australia

s.biggs at ed.ac.uk
Honorary Professor, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh

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