Beyond my individual research projects leading to academic publications, I actively pursue public-facing critical making projects meant to engage a variety of audiences. This page introduces some of them and links to their documentation.
As a member of the Fashioning Circuits Lab, I was a part of the first iteration of the “Words Matter” initiative, which built participatory artworks that commented on hotly contested terms. My contribution, titled B-O-R-D-E-R (2019), takes the simple yet powerful idea that borders are made at the expense of people and turns it into an interactive installation. The installation consists of an acrylic sandbox full of clay people and remains, a set of instructions, a series of claymation videos showcasing these instructions, and a cutting board. Asking participants to cut up clay people mobilizes playful interaction as a way to cast a shadow of culpability on those who encounter and contribute to the creation of a border. B-O-R-D-E-R ultimately asks participants to reflect on how building borders impacts communities around them. The first iteration of the “Words Matter” initiative was exhibited at the HASTAC 2019 conference at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Stitch n’ Glitch (2018)
At the School of ATEC, I was also the Pedagogical Director for Stitch n’ Glitch (2018), a monstrous embroidery event that invited participants to stitch collaboratively on a 12-foot long collage of images of feminist media art. The multi-lab project reflected on and mobilized analog and digital making strategies inspired by the work of ATEC’s inaugural artist-in-residence, Lynn Hershman Leeson. The performative embroidery event that moved between two staging areas, the kitchen table and the studio. Held in Ada Lovelace Day in 2018, the central premise of the event was a celebration of feminist media artists enacted through communal creativity. Participants were invited to contribute stitches to a monstrous embroidery project that reflected on the ways in which feminist media artists glitch dominant systems. An interactive description and critical reflection of this project was published in the journal Hyperrhiz: New Media Cultures.
The Other Hidden Figures (2018)
I made this remix video as an example of the kind of creative work the students in my Media Theory class could do for their final project. [Full description of the assignment can be found here.]
The historical film drama Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi, 2016) depicts how the work at NASA of three black women — Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan — helped launch the first American man into orbit. The Other Hidden Figures is remix short that takes Dorothy’s story arc to ask, What narrative might we tell if we focus our attention on the collective over the individual genius? The formal constraints on this remix video are meant to signal its ideological project. It consists only of scene excerpts featuring a collective (i.e. two or more) of black women, or of those when Dorothy alone is working towards the benefit of all the computers. Edited between these excerpts are blank screens with a time code signifying the amount of time between scenes within the original film. The duration of the black screens scales down this time, one minute to one second. The 128 minutes of the original feature become merely 18 minutes. Despite the temporal scaling down, allowing viewers to sit through the blank screens nonetheless should invite reflection on the length of the gaps that are left when we focus on collectives working together and remove scenes of extraordinary individual geniuses, heteronormative romance, and white men “solving racism” by hammering down a bathroom sign — a few examples of the tropes of classical narrative style.