[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 4 on Contamination: Amy Sara Carroll, Ricardo Dominguez and Melinda Rackham

Ricardo Rene Dominguez rrd54 at cornell.edu
Mon Nov 27 23:34:58 AEDT 2017

We have been learning a great deal from all the shared tales and investigations this month.

(As a side note I was happy to recall being a participant in “Wired Ruins: Digital Terror and Ethnic Paranoia” and not as a data-body, but as an always/already contaminated ethnic body walking amidst the digital ruins of CTheory and Cornell University. As I remember, I jumped up in the middle of a lecture and started drawing on a black board for some unknown reason-perhaps was my effluvian state at the time.)

Starting with Stranger Things:

In A General Theory of Magic (1903) Marcel Mauss wrote about a network of “effluvia” that functioned as a form of contagion that does not reside in humans, animals or objects, it is beyond life and death, presence and absence or the visible or invisible-perhaps something like the atmospherics of after-affects. A system of contamination that creates intermedial (per Rahul) performances that always connect to something other than a giving place, a distant horizon or code. We are now and have always been swirling in effluvian mists, clouds, winds, ooze, dust, weeds and particles. Where no matter how we reform or re-write our DNA, our codes, or the unsafe ground we walk on-it is the effluvia we seek to gather and shift even as it constantly withdraws from us.

Here is an oldie but goodie about nano-contaminations from *particlle group* we would like to share:

P.S. Nanosférica

Ricardo Dominguez and Amy Sara Carroll

“Nanofabric is the new black in fashion apparel and accessories.”
—Hugo Boss, 2005

“Patenting particles makes everyone smile around here.”
—Harris & Harris Group (Nasdaq:TINY), 21 September 2005

"Think small, think really small and then think even smaller" and you almost will hit the miniscule trans-b.a.n.g.s (bits, atoms, neurons, and genes) at the core of today's particle transvergence. There's a rush to patent and fabricate particles, currently found in cosmetics, baby lotions, sunscreen, fabrics, paints, and inkjet paper. Industries now claim to control the vertical and horizontal axes of structures far smaller than "angels' dancing on the head of a pin." The sliding scale of the nano-world is one nanometer, a billionth of a meter, or about one twenty-fifth-millionth of an inch (far smaller than the world of everyday objects described by Newton's laws of motion, but bigger than an atom or a simple molecule).

Reality raincheck: these tiny trans-b.a.n.g.s are rapidly transforming what constitutes the everyday. *particle group* seeks to data-mine transperversal tales of the global Matter Market, to re-tell and re-own them in ways that unhinge the vested interests of venture sciences' speculative fictions. To this end, we privilege the poetic (paratactically speaking) in an attempt to slip the false binary qua dialectic of database/narrative aesthetics. Drawing upon varied traditions of performance art and poetry (including concrete poetries, visual poetry, flarf, e-poetry, more generally speaking, experimental film, Zapatista communiqués, the artivist gesture), dance, movement studies, critical theory, we think small, really small, even smaller (the pharmakon), "reason[ing] deeply to forcibly feel," it takes one to know one profane illumination (to another).

Read: every aesthetic has its politics, too. Recalling Denise Ferreira da Silva's rejoinder to Paul Gilroy's interpretation of "the tragic story of Henrietta Lacks," what Gilroy characterizes as "the passage from the 'biopolitics of race' to 'nano-politics,'"1 we understand "the new black" of "nano-fabric" as itself a discursively loaded gun, where, to quote Ferreira da Silva once again, "That cancer cells do not indicate dark brown skin or flat noses can be conceived of as emancipatory only if one forgets, or minimizes, the political context within which lab materials will be collected and the benefits of biotechnological research will be distributed."2

Contagion, indeed! The endlessly proliferating constitution of "disposability," writ large (one cannot not inhale) and small, smaller, even smaller on the bodies of the most vulnerable (women, people of color, the poor, children, so-called sexual minorities, the disenfranchised, The Spooks Who Sat By the Door), adds fuel to the fire of the counter-core of *particle group*'s transpatentry.

From: empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au> on behalf of Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu>
Sent: Sunday, November 26, 2017 10:41:04 PM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: [-empyre-] Welcome to Week 4 on Contamination: Amy Sara Carroll, Ricardo Dominguez and Melinda Rackham

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
Hello –empyre- subscribers and our guests,

Thanks to Rahul Mukherjee and Andrea Haenggi for sharing their research and thoughts during our discussion on Contamination. If either of you have time please feel free to continue through this week and join in.  As we enter into Week 4 I thought I would offer a few highlights from this month’s discussion that have resonated with me.

 During Week 1 our discussion revolved around issues of the residual contamination or the networked ooze of contaminated states that flow from the environment to the body and beyond and how there is an invisibility in that ooze that can cause effects on health and safety.  During Week 2 we looked at the role of media in living viruses. Given research on the Human Microbiome Project there is an acknowledgement of the multi-species network of super organisms within the human or instances where contamination as contagion involve spiraling viruses out of control killing off its host.  Might there be theoretical instances as Bishnu so poetically wrote where, “the virus is fêted for its ability to contaminate—to replicate through infomatic cutting, pasting, and multiplying (the meme). Its simple microprocessuality (the homegrown machine); its bottom-up hydra-headed a centered organization (the swarm or brood); and its ability to set in motion a series of sudden and unpredictable effects (contagion) are all celebrated as machinic possibilities.’

And during this past week, our discussions focused on the [visibility/invisibility of physical contamination through radiation, carbon monoxide, and multiple chemical sensitivity then moved through to social contamination. Rahul made an interesting post reminding us of the conventions of mapping contamination on the body through   graphics such as screen charts and X-ray reports as junctures of the circulation and accumulation.  Both Andrea and Rahul suggested that interventions of socially unregulated acts of contamination on main stream political, social, environmental networks create may potentially positive outcomes.

An invitation for all of our subscribers and guests to comment on any of the threads we have discussed thus far.  You can read the entire transcript of our discussion here in our archives:


Welcome to our guests this week:  Amy Sara Carroll, Ricardo Dominguez and Melinda Rackham join us for the final week of discussion.  A very warm welcome to them.  Their biographies are below.

Amy Sara Carroll (US) is the author of two collections of poetry SECESSION (Hyperbole Books, an imprint of San Diego State University Press, 2012) and FANNIE + FREDDIE/The Sentimentality of Post-9/11 Pornography (Fordham University Press, 2013), chosen by Claudia Rankine for the 2012 Poets Out Loud Prize. Since 2008, she has been a member of Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab, coproducing the Transborder Immigrant Tool, which has been included in several art exhibitions, including the 2010 California Biennial. With EDT 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab and the University of Michigan interdisciplinary workshop, the Border Collective, she collaboratively authored [({    })] The Desert Survival Series/La serie de sobrevivencia del desierto (The Office of Net Assessment/University of Michigan Digital Environments Cluster Publishing Series, 2014), that digitally has been redistributed under its Creative Commons license by CTheory Books (2015), the Electronic Literature Collection, Vol. 3 (2016), CONACULTA E-Literatura/Centro de Cultura Digital (2016), and HemiPress (2017). In 2015, Carroll served as the University of Mississippi Summer Poet in Residence. Summer 2010 and every summer thereafter, she has participated in Mexico City’s alternative arts space SOMA. Carroll’s monograph REMEX: Toward an Art History of the NAFTA Era is forthcoming from the University of Texas Press in December 2017 under the auspices of its Mellon Latin American and Caribbean
Arts and Culture publishing initiative. Currently, Carroll is a 2017-2018 Society Fellow at Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities where she is working on two projects: “Codeswitch,” a mixed genre collection, coauthored with Ricardo Dominguez, that undocuments the development and distribution of the Transborder Immigrant Tool; and “Global Mexico’s Coproduction,” the second volume in a trilogy that she’s composing on greater Mexican art, literature, and cinema.

Ricardo Dominguez (US) is a co-founder of The Electronic Disturbance Theater, a group who developed virtual sit-in technologies in solidarity with the Zapatistas communities in Chiapas, Mexico, in 1998. Dominguez developed his recent Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab project titled The
Transborder Immigrant Tool (a GPS cell phone safety net tool for crossing the Mexico/U.S. border) with Brett Stalbaum, Micha Cárdenas, Amy
Sara Carroll, and Elle Mehrmand (http://tbt.tome.press/). The project was the winner of the Transnational Communities Award (2008), an award funded by Cultural Contact,
Endowment for Culture Mexico–U.S. and handed out by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico.

Along with artists Diane Ludin, Nina Waisman, and Amy Sara Carroll, Dominguez is also a co-founder of particle group, the creator of an art project about
nanotoxicology titled Particles of Interest: Tales of the Matter Market (http://hemisphericinstitute.org/hemi/en/particle-group-intro). Dominguez
is an associate professor in the visual arts department and M.F.A. director at the University of California–San Diego, a Hellman Fellow, principal
investigator at Qualcomm Institute/California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, and a Society for the Humanities Fellow at Cornell
University (2017–18) and Rockefeller Arts and Literary Fellow (2018 - 19).

Melinda Rackham (AU)
When the internet was young Melinda Rackham wove tales of intimacy and identity online.  Her Phd investigated the soft bounds of virtual reality space and she founded the global -empyre- forum. She was ACMI’s first Network Art curator and led Australia’s foremost art and technology organization, ANAT. Melinda writes on social justice and
contemporary art, making and design. Her recent publications Catherine Truman -Touching Distance, explores the many facets of a jeweller working with medical
researchers, while the ADOPTED anthology presents poetry and prose from adult adoptees on loss, trauma and reclaiming self.

Currently Adjunct Research Professor in the University of South Australia’s School of Art, Architecture and Design she divides her time between Adelaide and Pukatja (Ernabella) in the Central Australian APY Lands.

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
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