I concur with my colleague Jamie Winterton that “cyber” has become overdetermined and if you’re into understanding how that works you should check out her upcoming event with the Center … Continue reading New Connections Workshop
FemTechNet’s signal/noise conference, held in Ann Arbor (MI) this weekend, hosted the debut of Vibrant Lives’ DataPLAY. Below is our playbill, which evokes early American playbills that were used to advertise … Continue reading DataPLAY Debuts
A quick overview Last weekend Vibrant Lives premiered three new sculptures commissioned by the Mesa Arts Center. The sculptures, created in collaboration with local artist Bobby Zokaites, were designed to … Continue reading The data playground we sort of knew we were making
May 21st and 22nd, 2016 Vibrant Lives will be presenting in “Handmade Amplified” in Amsterdam (more precisely, my amazing collaborators Jessica Rajko and Eileen Standley will be presenting their work). This iteration of … Continue reading Handmade Amplified – A Vibrant Lives Event in Amsterdam
I’ve been working lately with the Vibrant Lives team on performative, haptic approaches to understanding data. This first took the form of our Vibrant Lives performance this fall at ASU’s Fall Forward showcase. Since then, we’ve been playing around with lots of different modalities for engaging with data and we’ve been talking a lot – mostly amongst ourselves, but also with folks who have been attending HSCollab’s “Critical Conversations” lunchtime series.
We are lucky that the gracious folks at DHSI have agreed to host a Vibrant Lives installation during the first week of this summer’s events. We’ve significantly modified our first performance, which took up three rooms and involved an entire flock of dancers and a lot of dust.
Our new installation will have a large crochet piece – a kind of “Net”- made by one of our principles, Jessica Rajko. Here’s Jessica’s most recent installation of the work to give you a sense of how the network has grown during an installation
You can see the full gallery of images and a video of the installation on her website.
The piece will be hanging and there will be haptic devices that will be “playing” the collective data shed in the room. There will also be an evening installation event that will incorporate realtime work and discussion. We will be weaving together bodies, technologies, spaces, and objects into an enactment of vibrant data.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Carolyn Steedman’s work in Dust and the invocation of the rag rug her in work, as well as about ends, endings, traces, and trailing – all of which really seem to harmonize with Jane Bennett’s work on Vibrant Matter and work in the vein of Karen Barad. I find myself wondering about everyday objects and their effects, their “quasi-agential” qualities.
While I do argue that data can have a similarly vibrant life of its own, around here we say that there is no data without people, without bodies. I really enjoy the ways that our work is pushing me to think hard about this. One thing I’ve found is that I’m thinking a lot about what isn’t captured about life in cellular or digital data, about the archival “data” of drawers, dust, etc. There’s a lot that is sent out in swirling waves of digital dust when we connect, but it seems to me that even does not make it into that particular kind of dust, which sends me back to Steedman’s notion of the rug, the drawer, the quotidian.
I’ve also been thinking about the ways that Diana Taylor (The Archive and The Repertoire) and Rebecca Schneider (Performing Remains) talk about the value of performance as a way of understanding memory and memorial outside of the archive or the monument. Here’s Taylor: “there is an advantage to thinking about a repertoire performed through dance, theater, song, ritual, witnessing, healing practices, memory paths, and the many other forms of repeatable behaviors as something that cannot be housed or contained in the archive.”
I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about dead people and their remains, whether in archive, performance, or elsewhere. But the Vibrant Lives performances have been largely about living people and the data that we shed as we move through connected cultures. I’ve also been thinking about my role in our performance.
In our first version, I was in the “scholars room” with Jentery Sayers and Nina Belojevic and part of what we did was talk about how the Vibrant Lives app worked.
It was good, but I want something a bit different, a bit less didactic for our DHSI performance. I also want to do something that reaches out and makes apparent the remarkable networks that sustain me in my work. I would not be able to do what I do were it not for the work already done by feminist scholars, artists, and activists, nor would I be able to sustain my work and myself without groups like FemTechNet.
So, in the spirit of Steedman’s rag rug and other related models, I’d like to ask my “nets” – all of you who make up the networks that sustain this work – to help me weave a bit of an analog network into our vibrating, vibrant web for Vibrant Lives @ DHSI. Send me a bit, a trace, an item, a piece of your everyday and I’ll sit with it and weave it into our net at DHSI. It can be fabric, or not. I don’t have much in the way of restrictions except that you be willing to have it appear and be incorporated into the net and that it fit in an envelope. If you’d like, feel free to send along a few words of context or a thought you’d like to share and I’ll find a way to incorporate that as well. If you’d like us to acknowledge your contributions (which I will happily do), please include a note to that effect. I’m also happy to take silent contributions if that is your preference. You don’t need to know anyone of us well in order to contribute – if you’re seeing these words, that is enough.
Please send your threads, your rags, your bits (before the end of May) to:
Vibrant Lives @ DHSI c/o Jacqueline Wernimont,
Department of English
Arizona State University
P.O. Box 870302
Tempe, AZ 85287
Vibrant Lives will be premiering three unique, interactive sculptures at the Spark! Mesa Festival of Creativity, in Mesa, AZ March 18 – 19, 2016 (12pm – 10pm). Our sculptures were constructed in partnership … Continue reading Vibrant Lives at Spark! Festival
In the tradition of a “soft opening,” the Vibrant Lives interactive performance will be premiering October 2, 3, 4 as a pre-show event for Fall Forward, the kick-off event for the dance season at the the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, School of Film, Theater, and Dance.
This is a fantastic opportunity to engage in a live, improvisational performance about every day “data shed.” Guests are encouraged to bring their cell phones, which we can then transform into haptic devices enabling an embodied, touch-based experience of the data that we “shed” from our phones in real time. This real time experience will be interwoven with kinetic movement, discussion, and improvisational dance. While a phone will make it possible to feel your own data shed, it’s not a prerequisite for participation and we encourage anyone who is interested in the ways that our devices create linkages and share in wider spaces to attend.
You can find more information about location and times at the link above. As a pre-show we will start when doors open and run for about a half hour each evening/afternoon.
This performance will include guest scholars-artists, Jentery Sayers and Nina Belojevic, both of whom are practicing maker-artists and digital culture critics. Sayers directs the University of Victoria’s Maker’s Lab and Belojevic has worked as the Assistant Director of the Makers Lab and at the Electronic Textual Cultures Laboratory as Research Developer and Information Architect.
One of the great pleasures of my summer was working with Jessica Rajko and Eileen Standley on our Vibrant Lives project.
The above are two stills from one of our very early movement sessions, in which Jessica, Eileen, and some of our dance collaborators were exploring connected/connecting movement. We moved, we talked about the gravity working to pull my body into the floor, we talked about what it means to embody corporate or painful data, we laughed. It was really a day unlike any other that I’ve had.
Part of what we’ve spent the summer doing is understanding how to manifest three of our initial goals:
- An entanglement with bodies, technologies, and information through movement, design, and digital critique.
- A remaking, an act of “critical attention,” a gesture of generosity.
- A sweeping up of the torrential data shed that has become central to western culture in order to “give back” that data in a non-monetized, non-commercial form.
In a more colloquial language we are working to help people understand the amount of data we “shed” every day as we engage in western, capitalist cultures. We want people to feel their data. Our work is an intervention in how we know. Saying that people produce 2.5 quintillion (10^18) bytes of data per day globally induces lots of “wows” but it’s really hard to wrap one’s head around. Instead of trying to explicate, we want people to experience. We want people to use their bodies to feel that torrent of data production.
That has involved not only Jessica, Eileen, and I engaging with other dancers, but also working closely with folks in data security, computing and information sciences, and mobile app development. We’ve been a vibrant community of people in industry and academia and the arts – at all levels. Using Woojers and a custom built app, we are getting closer – we can feel our own data, we can feel archival data (that breaks our hearts), and we can share some of this. Our first performance is a at the ASU faculty showcase in the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. While Jessica, Eileen, and I have been working together a fair amount this summer, it’s also been distributed work in our larger group of collaborators (12 to date). I, for example, have only met the dancers once. Jentery Sayers and Nina Belojevic (of and formerly of the UVic Maker’s Lab) are coming to join us for the performances – brave souls, they are coming in mostly cold. But we’ll spend time playing with data sonification, haptics, and movement while they are here.
Over the course of the fall we will work with the app, integrate additional features and data sets, and think more about our performance environment. We’ll be rolling out new or improved elements at the 2016 HASTAC meeting, at the spark! Festival, and at DHSI 2016. We hope to be able to see some of you there!
It’s been a great summer of work and we are grateful to the Institute of Humanities Research and Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts for seed grant suport.
I’m currently somewhere 35,000 feet in the air, roughly over Kansas, making my way back home from the International Workshop on Misogyny and the Internet, aka #iwomi. When working to address violence against feminists, the very act of meeting can be both radical and dangerous. While an event in an elite setting in the U.S. is probably less at risk than meetings of feminists elsewhere, there’s a lot to be said for creating safe and brave spaces. To that end, we met under Chatham House rule, in which “participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.” Concerned about issues of intellectual appropriation, we also operated under a consent request policy that required that we ask first before communicating outward about ideas articulated by another participant. We also put down our devices for much of the meeting in order to fully engage with one another.
Consequently, there is little real time information that came out of the meeting and I will be intentionally vague in my reporting out here where it concerns other people – mostly I’ll speak just about what I did while there as a way to render myself accountable and to respect the Chatham rule.
I’m not comfortable with the repetition of ‘I’ in this following list, so I’ll say it just once here.
learned that the gulf between what diversity looks like in academic meetings and in intersectional feminist spaces is enormous
- came to understand that the challenges our various initiatives face are not the same (not everyone needs more money/time in the way that many academics feel we do)
- saw that there is an AMAZING amount of work already being done to address violence against women/girls/people online
- saw that the work of not making discussions U.S.-centric is hard but necessary
- collaborated on a manifesto regarding “intersectional data”
- heard that if we could just train 100 women across the world to train other women about digital security and identity we would have a huge impact
- heard that women can (should?) do more to engage with industry, politics, governance on these topics
- dispaired that we have to keep explaining to others that digital life *is* real life
- learned about affordances and barriers to coalition work
- witnessed and appreciated some very intentional feminist engagements by men, which I see very little of in academic settings
- witnessed, appreciated, and participated in a lot of very intentional feminist engagements involving women and non-binary and gender queer folks
- engaged and worked hard on active listening and was not perfect
- experienced optimism, pessimism, curiosity, sorrow, humility, laughter, and joy
- was comfortably uncomfortable at times
- learned that an effective moderator is an invaluable asset
- learned that a stack or progressive stack is a really great meeting tool
As our collective work becomes public, I’ll share more of it here and across social media.