[-empyre-] May, 2017: Robot Poetics, Ephemera, and Other Concerns
Margaret J Rhee
mrhee at uoregon.edu
Wed May 3 02:31:41 AEST 2017
Many thanks to Renate for her kind invitation and introduction. I have
been a long time admirer of Renate's formative artistic work, incredible
presence, and inspiring curation on -empyre-, and it a great pleasure,
and humbling to convene a conversation on robot poetry here. I have
placed the introduction to the forum below, and look forward to
introducing our Week 1 guests shortly.
Welcome to May 2017 on –empyre soft-skinned space
Robot Poetics and Other Concerns
Moderated by Margaret Rhee (US) with invited discussants
Week 1: May 1 - Teaching Radio Heart (US)
Susan Vanderborg (US), Mike Widner (US), Sunny Xiang (US), Sean Pessin
Week 2: May 8 - The Practice of Poetry: Roboticist, Scholar, and
Dmitry Berenson (US) Neil Aitken (US) Tung Hui-Hu (US)
Week 3: May 15 - Why Westworld?: Utopias, Dystopias, and and
Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis (US), Betsy Huang (US), Sarah Mirk (US)
Week 4: May 22 - Machine Dreams ZINE Contributors
To Be Announced
The conference, the email, and the poem
The disappeared email, the disappeared poem.
How to think about robots in our contemporary times?
Intellectual thought, begins by listening
We develop by talking.
What is a poem? Is it a thought, or a dream?
Our bodies, maybe?
Now, what is a machine?
"A poem is a small (or large) machine made of words." - William Carlos
This forum of –empyre- is interested in exploring robot poetics, and how
the poem and the machine can be understood intersectionally. More
specifically, and loosely, concerns include pedagogy, hybridity, science
fictional dialogues, and dreams. More specifically, while the central
focus of this forum includes questions on the intersection of robots,
literature, pedagogy, dystopias, hybridity, and poetic practice, the
respective weeks are organized by way of how robot poetics emerge and
develop through ephemera.
If Friedrich Kittler surveyed how the gramophone, film, and typewriter
transformed language and writing during the nineteenth century, this
forum also reflexively asks, and embodies how ephemeral spaces--such as
a listserve--fosters the exchange and development of intellectual and
creative thought/acts around the robot and machine. With this in mind,
perhaps there is no other space than
–empyre- to hold such a digital forum.
Empyre curator, and artist Renate Ferro kindly invited me to organize an
–empyre- forum around my chapbook, Radio Heart, or; How Robots Fall Out
of Love, published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. I have long admired
Renate's incredible artistic work and curatorship, and the –empyre-
ethos and logics that fosters conversation and community. I have
participated twice as a guest on previous forums, and I realized like
–empyre- my poetry chapbook, Radio Heart, or; How Robots Fall Out of
Love emerged similarly by way of conversation and collectively. Rather
than explore the content of the poems, I felt it would be generative to
explore the larger set of concerns surrounding the poetry, pedagogy, and
robot poetics. Question: What is robot poetics? Pedagogy? Poetic
This month –empyre- subscribers and guests will inhabit the spaces
between and within robots and poetics, exploring uneasy questions around
transgression, and soldering libratory practices through dialogue. All
of our featured guests, have formatively inspired and influenced my
poetry, art, and thinking of robots, and it is a honor to be in
conversation together here.
The first week, "Teaching Radio Heart, and Other Cyborg Poetry,"
features a discussion on the pedagogical implications of cyborg poetry
within a variety of disciplines and approaches, and features
participants, scholars, and artists Susan Vanderborg, Sean Pessin, Mike
Widner, Ari Rotramel, and Sunny Xiang.
The second week, "The Practice of Poetry: Roboticist, Scholar, and
Programmer Poet" features Dmitry Benerson, Neil Aitken, and Tung Hui Hu,
and reflects on the inspirations behind my robot love collection, and a
discussion on hybrid roles as roboticist, progammer, and scholar and
The third week of –empyre-, "Why Westworld?: Utopias, Dystopias, and
Refashioning Dialogues," continues to think reflexively on robot
conversation through a larger collective dialogue on Westworld, with the
uncanny pairing of Sarah Mirk, Lawrence-Minh Davis, Betsy Huang, and
myself. Earlier this year, I spoke with Sarah for her podcast for Bitch
Magazine on Westworld, and Lawrence and Betsy proposed to engage in
dialogue about Westworld for the Machine Dreams Zine. I look forward to
discussing the television show, and other concerns all together.
This leads us into the last week, which features contributors to the
Machine Dreams Zine. The Zine will be published later this month and
shared on –empyre-. Machine Dreams Zine is a collection of creative and
critical works drawn from a conference I co-organized with Lucy Burns
and Neil Aitken at UCLA in 2015, and other contributors who add greatly
to our discussion on robots, machines, difference, and art. The
participants for this last week will be announced later on in the month.
All of the participants are artists, scholars, and activists that are
formative in their own work, and those I greatly admire, and have shaped
my own work and thinking. Many thanks again to Renate for her generous
invitation and this space, and to all the participants for their time
and for participating in the dialogue here. It is with great excitement
to continue learning from and with formative scholars, and artists on
poetry, and the machine, and continue the conversation by way of
ephemera and empyre.
Continue in this texture.
The specter of the machine, echoes throughout all of our writing,
thinking, poetics, and difference.
At the dream institute, I was asked to interpret what this machine dream
Yet, our aim here is less about answer, but more about questions,
that shadows the contours of
haptic that endures even if we
can't measure how.
On 2017-05-01 15:08, Renate Terese Ferro wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> It is with the greatest of pleasure that I introduce new media
> artist/poet Margaret Rhee to the -empyre- listserv. Margaret has
> agreed to shepherd the May discussion on empyre and I could not be
> more excited. Her book, Radio Heart or How Robots Fall Out of Love
> (Finishing Line Press, 2015)” caught my eye a few months ago when I
> noticed my old friend and poet Cecil Giscombe’s blurb about Rhee’s
> RADIO HEART. Previously, I knew of Margaret’s work both as a gifted
> writer but also an artist engaged in the complications of technology,
> race, gender and the body. I was thrilled when she agreed to be our
> guest and to organize a group around her interests. This month our
> discussion “Robot Poetics, Ephemera, and Other Concerns” will bring
> together writers, artists, activists, technologist’s and more. I want
> to thank Margaret for her creative, open, spirit and invite other
> empyreans to join in. I hope you enjoy this month.
> Margaret Rhee is a poet, artist, and scholar engaged in the poetics
> and technologies of difference. As a poet, she is the author of
> chapbooks Yellow (Tinfish Press, 2011) Radio Heart; or How Robots Fall
> Out of Love (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and the forthcoming
> full-length collection, Love, Robot (The Operating System, 2017). She
> is the recipient of poetry fellowships from
> the Squaw Valley Poetry Workshop, Les Figues Press, Hedgebrook, and
> Kundiman. Her academic writing has been published in Amerasia, Cinema
> Journal, and GLQ, and she is completing her monograph How We Became
> Human: Race, Robots and the Asian American Body. With Dr. Brittney
> Cooper, she co-edited a special issue of Ada: A Journal of Gender,
> Technology, and New Media on “Hacking the Black/White Binary.” As a
> new media artist, her project The Kimchi Poetry Machine was selected
> to exhibit at the Electronic Literature Collection Volume 3, and in
> 2014, she was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Public Service for
> her collaborative and social practice feminist HIV/AIDS digital
> storytelling project in the San Francisco
> Currently, she is a visiting assistant professor in the Women’s and
> Gender Studies department at the University of Oregon. In 2014, she
> earned her Ph.D. in ethnic and new
> media studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Associate Professor
> Director of Undergraduate Studies
> Department of Art
> Tjaden Hall 306
> rferro at cornell.edu
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
Margaret Rhee, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Women's and Gender Studies
University of Oregon
More information about the empyre