May 262012
 

This review, like all the Computers and Writing 2012 conference reviews, appears in the Gayle Morris Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collective, a project of the Gayle Morris Sweetland Center for Writing and the University of Michigan Press.

Few people can pull off what Will Banks did on Saturday morning at C+W 2012: He was the only panelist physically present at his session and yet, it actually took me until I was drafting this review for this simple fact to sink in: the session was smartly poly-vocal. Indeed, Will and Jonathan Alexander planned and conducted this featured session in a way that leverages digital technologies to spark dialogue and creating event-ness, a feature that is way too often absent from conference sessions. Will opened by contextualizing the session and outlining the schedule: In 2002, he explained, he and Jonathan tried to create a special issue in Computers & Composition which would be queer focused, and they were hard pressed to find submissions. Further, noting that they both wanted to give graduate students a voice, they launched interviews with eleven advanced graduate students (a few of whom are actually junior faculty), during the CCCC in March, and out of the ten hours of footage, they had a twenty-nine minute video cut (Jackie Rhodes cut this footage). The video includes clips of all 11 interviewees and is grouped thematically. In addition, Jonathan, who could not be present, recorded his own 4 minute video done in response to one of the strands in the interview footage.

After the introduction, Will played the interview footage and the audience heard  a nice smattering of issues as the grad students responded to questions Jonathan and Will posed about the nature of sexuality, identity politics and academia in general, and rhetoric and composition in particular. Since the session’s assigned room was laid out pod style—clusters of desks, each of which had its own screen—the effect of the video was quite nice and enacted the multi-vocal nature of the discussion. Will then led the audience through a lively discussion and, when the issue of downplaying one’s queer identity in order to get work in academe, Will played Jonathan’s video, which extended the conversation and provided a nice ending to the session, though, clearly many wanted to stay and talk.

There were numerous issues raised throughout the session, the nuances of which are not fully captured here, but I offer the following highlights:

–       Coming out online: can digital space provide a rehearsal for coming out f2f? What are the structural implications of social networking in terms of controlling one’s identity?

–       Queering as method: Hacking and remix are, in many ways, inherently queer practices. But if queer becomes a methodology—a disruptive practice which eschews the intent of the original—does it lose its political edge?

–       Private | public: What is the relationship between identity politics, the performance of gender and the private/public spaces that characterize digital networks? How do we understand scholars who are queer but who don’t do queer theory? What about straight scholars who focus on queer issues?

–       Separate but equal? What are the dangers of ghettoizing queer theory? One interviewee noted that the queer caucus sponsored two sessions at the CCCC, and they were held simultaneously effectively limiting who might attend.

–       Queer pedagogy? Is there such a thing? Should queer teachers step back and let students find their way? Is the skepticism required of critical thinking problematic when paired with progressive politics?

–       The whiteness of queer theory: how do we become more inclusive, particularly given the fact that often queerness is not as immediately visible as are the markers of race and ethnicity. How are one’s identity choices impacted by factors they cannot control?

Jonathan’s video found him picking up on a thread raised with regard to one’s professional stance: how does one balance one’s political beliefs with one’s desire to work?  How “out” does one have to be to stay true to oneself? And how does the performance of identity and gender impact one’s professional life, if at all?

The really compelling issues that arose in this session ultimately centered on the balance of retaining a fluid identity such that one can highlight or submerge certain characteristics in the service of others as is rhetorically valid.  On the one hand, you do not want to bifurcate yourself and violate your beliefs; on the other, the type of essentialism associated with stereotypes is worth fighting and so showing our complexity should be paramount.  In this regard, there is no one better to look to than both Will and Jonathan who have managed smart, successful careers as scholars and not strictly as queer scholars.

I believe Jonathan and Will are planning to publish some of this video work, and I look forward to the contribution it will make to this field, as well as to academia more generally.

C+W 2012 Constructing Queer Spaces: Images from Review
Dec 012010
 

Doreen Nelson, recognized by The New York Times as one of the thirty most innovative educators in the United States, pioneered Design-Based Learning over 35 years ago with a method that produces dramatic improvement in K-12 student achievement. It reverses the emphasis from traditional rote learning to engaging students in thinking at the highest level by building physical artifacts that represent concepts in the curriculum.

Nelson’s method of Design-Based Learning is used by teachers worldwide. The diverse K-12 settings include classes for students expelled from California high schools, and classrooms in China, Finland and Japan. Her university-level work includes courses and projects conducted at UCLA, the University of Southern California, Stanford University, Harvard University, the Royal College of Art in London and the Smithsonian Institution.

Creator of the nation’s first M.A. degree in Design-Based Learning, Nelson is a professor at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona—in the College of Education and Integrative Studies and the College of Environmental Design—and at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. There, she oversees the Design-Based Learning Laboratory.

The talk begins at 7:00 and is free and open to students, faculty, and the general public.

About the Symposium

The Digital Studies Symposium is designed to introduce participants to diverse scholarly media-based production. The speakers in this series are artists, programmers, scholars and designers, and their projects include cutting edge gestural interfaces, mobile media experiments, innovative websites and augmented reality pieces. The presentations will be moderated by Holly Willis, the IML’s Director of Academic Programs.

For further information, please contact the IML at 213.743.4421, or visit the symposium Web site.

Nov 242010
 

Rachel Mayeri is a video and installation artist whose work often deals with the intersection of science, art, and society. Her previous video work includes The Anatomical Theater of Peter the Great (1999), animations for Biospheria: An Environmental Opera (2001), and The Electropathic Sanitarium (1992). Mayeri’s work has been screened nationally and internationally, including Pacific Film Archive, P.S.1/MOMA and ZKM. She has received grants from Creative Capital, the Getty Institute, and the California Council on the Humanities. She is Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Harvey Mudd College and curates art and media events in Los Angeles.

Mayeri is also the founder of Soft Science, a collection of video-curiosities created by artists and scientists. Artists have been mining science for years – in diverse experiments with icky substances, authority figures, and the ever-elusive idea of Reason. This unique program includes digital movies by biologists alongside contemporary video art.The talk begins at 7:00 and is free and open to students, faculty, and the general public.

About the Symposium

The Digital Studies Symposium is designed to introduce participants to diverse scholarly media-based production. The speakers in this series are artists, programmers, scholars and designers, and their projects include cutting edge gestural interfaces, mobile media experiments, innovative websites and augmented reality pieces. The presentations will be moderated by Holly Willis, the IML’s Director of Academic Programs.

For further information, please contact the IML at 213.743.4421, or visit the symposium Web site.

Nov 172010
 

Anne Bray is a leading curator, media artist and educator, and has played a prominent role supporting alternative media in Los Angeles for two decades.  She is also the founder of the 21-year-old media arts festival LA Freewaves, an international, decentralized hub for experimental media art. Bray has exhibited her own artwork at gas stations, malls and movie theaters, as well as on TV, in department stores, on billboards and inside art venues, combining personal and social positions via video, audio and 3-d screens.

Bray will talk about the rise of urban screens in general, and her recently funded project “MetroVoice: About/In/By Los Angeles,” in which youth will collaboratively write and produce geo-coded videos, TV screen banners and messages that will be transmitted to TV screens on the LA Metro buses that travel throughout the city, transforming the buses into mobile learning labs.

.The talk begins at 7:00 and is free and open to students, faculty, and the general public.

About the Symposium

The Digital Studies Symposium is designed to introduce participants to diverse scholarly media-based production. The speakers in this series are artists, programmers, scholars and designers, and their projects include cutting edge gestural interfaces, mobile media experiments, innovative websites and augmented reality pieces. The presentations will be moderated by Holly Willis, the IML’s Director of Academic Programs.

For further information, please contact the IML at 213.743.4421, or visit the symposium Web site.

Nov 102010
 

Natalie Bookchin’s video installations address conditions of global connectivity and the impact of everyday uses of new technologies on the stories we tell about ourselves and the world. Her work is exhibited widely, including at LACMA, PS1, Mass MOCA, the Generali Foundation, the Walker Art Center, the Pompidou Centre, MOCA Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum, the Tate, and Creative Time. She has received numerous grants and awards, including from Creative Capital, California Arts Council, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Durfee Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, California Community Foundation, New York State Council for the Arts, Daniel Langlois Foundation, a COLA Artist Fellowship and most recently an Artistic Innovation Award from Center for Cultural Innovation. Bookchin studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Independent Study Program, and SUNY Purchase. In 1999-2000 Bookchin organized , an eight month series of lectures and workshops on art, activism and the Internet at CalArts, MOCA in LA, and Laboratorio Cinematek in Tijuana . She lives and works in Los Angeles, where she is co-Director of the Photography & Media Program in the Art School at CalArts.

Bookchin joins the Digital Studies Symposium to talk about a series of projects centered on the documentary potential of YouTube videos. In her recent installation titled Mass Ornament, for example, Bookchin gathered hundreds of dance videos, studied them, and then arranged them to create a portrait that captures a particular statement about contemporary culture. Bookchin will show her work, talk about her process, and consider new notions of documentary practice and research.The talk begins at 7:00 and is free and open to students, faculty, and the general public.

About the Symposium

The Digital Studies Symposium is designed to introduce participants to diverse scholarly media-based production. The speakers in this series are artists, programmers, scholars and designers, and their projects include cutting edge gestural interfaces, mobile media experiments, innovative websites and augmented reality pieces. The presentations will be moderated by Holly Willis, the IML’s Director of Academic Programs.

For further information, please contact the IML at 213.743.4421, or visit the symposium Web site.

Nov 032010
 

Dan Goods is passionate about giving people experiences where they interact with something beautiful, meaningful, and/or possibly profound. During the day he is the “Visual Strategist” for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he develops creative ways of communicating. His work ranges from art pieces in museums, to ways of communicating to politicians. Installations for JPL include “The Hidden Light”, about finding planets around other stars, and “The Big Playground”, in which a hole drilled into a grain of sand shows the scale of the universe and the small area in which we have found hundreds of planets around other stars.

Goods co-curated a show called Data + Art: Art and Science in the Age of Information at the PMCA in Pasadena. He recently finished “Solid Smoke”, an installation using a substance called aerogel which is 99.8% air and has been used by NASA to capture dust from a comet, this was shown at the Technorama in Wintertur, Switzerland. Goods is currently developing a 108-foot data driven sculpture for the San Jose Airport and a window installation for the National Academies of Sciences Koshland Museum in Washington D.C..The talk begins at 7:00 and is free and open to students, faculty, and the general public.

About the Symposium

The Digital Studies Symposium is designed to introduce participants to diverse scholarly media-based production. The speakers in this series are artists, programmers, scholars and designers, and their projects include cutting edge gestural interfaces, mobile media experiments, innovative websites and augmented reality pieces. The presentations will be moderated by Holly Willis, the IML’s Director of Academic Programs.

For further information, please contact the IML at 213.743.4421, or visit the symposium Web site.

Oct 202010
 

Technologists often discuss ecologies – relationships between technology and people with technology – foregrounding the social impacts and future possibilities of networks. This panel flips the disciplinary coin, asking working ecologists to discuss their views on technology, and about the relationships among people and technology, society, and the future. Participants include Jake de Grazia, founder of The Carrot Project, Darren Butler, LA master gardener, landscape consultant, and presenter; Ricky Smith of Urban Green | On Spring local food caterer and USC partner; and Ronan Hallowell, New Roads School. The discussion will be moderated by IML faculty member Craig Dietrich. The talk begins at 7:00 and is free and open to students, faculty, and the general public.

About Darren Butler

C. Darren Butler is an Ecological Landscape Designer, Consulting Arborist, Greywater & Irrigation Designer, Landscape and Garden Consultant, and Teacher. He is a frequent presenter at conferences and events throughout California. From 2007 – 2009 he served on statewide Advisory and Steering Committees for all University of California Master Gardener programs. He offers an apprenticeship program and workshops, courses, and retreats to the general public on topics related to gardening, landscaping, trees, irrigation, permaculture, and sustainability. He consults, designs, speaks, and teaches throughout Southern California and beyond. See www.EcoWorkshops.com.

About Jake de Grazia

Jake de Grazia is Director of Education for the iMatter Campaign. He is working with climate change activist Alec Loorz, the campaign’s 16 year-old founder, to organize a million kid march. The goal of the march – and the whole campaign – is to unite young people in support of a sustainable world culture. Jake’s background is in Chinese, microfinance, and dot com startup adventuring. He blogs about sustainability and metaphors.

About Ronan Hallowell

Ronan Hallowell, MA is an interdisciplinary scholar and educator concerned with a wide range of global change issues. He writes and speaks on topics related to media, education, philosophy, cognitive science and intercultural communication. Since 2005 he has served as a core member of the social science and history faculty at New Roads High School in Santa Monica where he teaches media literacy, ethics and honors U.S. history. His research is focused on helping society develop effective global change amelioration strategies for the benefit of all Earth’s inhabitants and the prosperity of future generations. Ronan is inspired by fourteen years of participation in and study of the Lakota Sun Dance, a tradition rooted in a love for the land (topophilia) and a respect for interdependence.

About the Symposium

The Digital Studies Symposium is designed to introduce participants to diverse scholarly media-based production. The speakers in this series are artists, programmers, scholars and designers, and their projects include cutting edge gestural interfaces, mobile media experiments, innovative websites and augmented reality pieces. The presentations will be moderated by Holly Willis, the IML’s Director of Academic Programs.

For further information, please contact the IML at 213.743.4421, or visit the symposium Web site.