Tag Archives: Art

Consider this a warning.

I want you to know you’re killing me.

You always were. It isn’t news. But assume your postures of defense if you think I’m wrong. Tell me you’re protecting the economically disadvantaged in dire straits, stripped of health care because they can’t afford it, and what could I possibly know about that; and I promise, I promise, I won’t tell you in return how I teach a 4:4 load, tutor four hours a week, do freelance editing, and still have to ration out my doctor visits with a careful hand and weigh the costs of medication against the costs of my next meal. I won’t tell you how before ACA I had to ration physical therapy visits because of lifetime caps per body part and condition, or that I suffered pain like slow implosion for years before accepting a prescription that made life livable, because I couldn’t afford it. I won’t breathe a word about how all the proposed cuts, if I choose to live with them, will leave me with the kind of debt you can’t breathe through, like what ought to take your breath away, but won’t, the knowledge that millions like me or worse are imperiled by you.

Today you’re everywhere with your circle-jerk applause and sound-bite rhetoric you can easily repeat. Some kind of Yes, calm down, you’ll be fine, there are protections in place you know but really, you should know better, you should have taken better care of yourselves, eaten better, exercised more, stayed away from treatments your insurance wouldn’t cover, stopped getting sick, stopped aging, stopped having babies, having sex, moving, breathing, stopped your beating heart, if you knew you couldn’t pay the price.

What’s left that we can afford, but suicide, or murder.

You make it our civic duty to go off our meds and buy guns we’ll gleefully wave at anyone who is or isn’t there. Drown our unwanted in the bathtub like feral kittens. Put our dependents on the streets when they become too expensive. Die at our desks of chronic illness, cancer, heart disease, dementia, stroke, pneumonia, the flu. Decay into our landscapes. Hang ourselves high, where the warlord can see us and count us part of his triumph.

This is what we’re calling the new normal, or at last, a victory. That death is less ruinous than what you propose.

You know who you are. You are the ones who will denounce the above with apoplectic rage, but just tell me how it’s anything else. You know. You aren’t stupid. You exist to be unaccountable. You are the waterproof bandages with which we seal our outcry. You fashion greasy casual nooses and jeer as we walk by, all righteous fury because the world isn’t deepening the divisions you need. White/black. Able/disabled. Rich/poor. Living/not worth keeping alive.

You like it this way.

But we aren’t stupid, either, and we are not resigned. You’ve always been here, knives out and aimed at our guts, but it’s not for nothing that we’ve survived this long. We have learned how to outlast, with all our wits about us, we know that the kingdom you are building to map the heavens is habitable by monsters alone, that the closer you come to this 1:1 reflection the more you reveal that the gods as you spell them are ugly and false. Try to stamp us like cockroaches to primordial ooze, but we’ve always been oarfish, swimming vertically and forever, the messenger you are always killing before we expel even a breath to recount the error of your ways.

There is no heroism in murder.

Wield your signing pen against us like the Reign of Terror’s guillotine, and I promise, I promise, you will breed a nation of dissidents, a pantheon of deities rising from below, where we hail from in all our diversity, too far down the ladder for you to ever grasp.

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The Author Is In Pain. #AffectWTF

Written for and performed at Affect Theory Conference: Worldings, Tensions, Futures, “The Author is in Pain” is a project I consider my first foray into performance art scholarship, as part of the conference’s “Wreck the Format” stream. It is the first fully realized expression of my experience in the emergency room a little over a year ago, peppered with experiences in and out of medical and academic institutions. Inspired by scholars and artists including Elaine Scarry, Brian Massumi, Mel Y. Chen, Lisa Blackman, Ann Cvetkovich, Margaret Price, Petra Kuppers, and Leslie Jamison (in addition to being saturated with Foucault), this piece is intended alternately and all at once as a confrontation, an interrogation, a confessional, a demand for accountability, a request for aid in finding new ways of seeing and speaking with regards to invisible pain. It is my hope that this destabilization of typical perception can be extended to other forms of “passing disability,” and that it may serve as my own (if not others’) entry point into the dream of a language more common to us all, one only achievable if we recognize and work towards it together.

I am indebted to my close friend Sara Fuller for serving, sometimes simultaneously, as massage therapist, painter, photographer, and video editor for this project; without her, I wouldn’t have been able to realize this series of provocations as well as I have. I am also grateful to fellow Ph.D. student Fredrika Thelandersson for filming the presentation when it was delivered at the conference in October, which is why you’re able to access it now.

Let it speak for itself.

The transcript, with elements that do not translate to oration or visual performance, can be found here.

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Critical Information Conference 2012

Excerpts from a panel on street art, hacktivism, and subversive inspiration at the Critical Information Conference 2012, held at the School of Visual Arts. The paper I presented, titled “We Do it for the Lulz: Graffiti as a Metaphor for Digital Defacement,” emerged out of research I am conducting regarding the political viability of DDoS actions as hacktivism. As they are so often accompanied by cyber-graffiti, I thought I’d take a shot at addressing their role and significance in hacktivist practice.

Materials from the entire conference can be found here.

Upcoming projects include a conference paper on the convergence of comics, animation, and gaming in the webcomic Homestuck, a conference paper on lurking as a methodology for studying 4chan, an optional random paper on polemology, art, and The Dark Knight Rises, and uploading textfile versions of current and pending publications.

Still waiting with bated breath to receive edits on a piece on the logics of misogyny on 4chan, still thrilled by being included in Black Clock 16, and still keeping busy, as always.

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Digital Graffiti for the Lulz

Bedridden as I’ve been with pain, I’m stuck with a view of my cluttered room to my right and apartment buildings directly in front and to the right.  The buildings to the right, however, have been augmented with graffiti.  Most of it is written in white spray paint: initials, names, the bubble- and jagged-letter signatures of writers who somehow managed to reach these heights or write upside down.  The building owners probably think of it as an eyesore, but I think it’s a gorgeous way .  The writing, the positioning, and the size and style reveal aesthetic and political choices.  Why these buildings?  Why these locations?  Why predominantly names?

Is it enough of an answer to say that my neighborhood has been a prime location for gentrification?  That young people actively resent the closing of local mom-and-pop shops and what they perceive as the irrevocable alteration of quintessential Harlem?  That the chosen placement of the tags heightens their visibility?

tl;dr, ITT I attempt to forge my scattered brain cells into a single unit capable of cogent thought, thereby relate graffiti and graffiti-writing practices as a metaphor for online defacement, and consider the ramifications of such an analogy. Continue reading

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Digital Dead Drops: Public P2P File-Sharing

Public, offline, anonymous file-sharing, now available in crevices near you:

Berlin-based media artist Aram Bartholl started the Dead Drops project while working as an artist-in-residence in NYC in 2010.  Dead Drops functions as a P2P file-sharing network in public spaces, such as this one, where anonymous users can plug their laptops in and out of USB sticks secured in walls, holes, and other nooks and crannies with cement.  The database lists locations of and directions to USB drops worldwide, installed and maintained by anyone who wants to become involved.  The idea comes from traditional “dead drops,” points where information is exchanged between two intelligence agents without them ever meeting face-to-face.  This becomes more unwieldy on public city streets, where information could potentially be shared between thousands of people, making private drops difficult if not impossible (more thoughts on this below). Continue reading

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The Ultimate in Motivational Speeches

The ultimate in motivational speeches, found while I was peeking at Project Mayhem 2012.  Makes me wish I were more knowledgeable about remix culture…

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Monster Culture, Torture Porn, SENSELESS

For 5-6 years, I’ve taught Jeffrey Cohen’s “Monster Culture” in my classroom in an essay progression focusing on horror film.  The unit catered both to my personal credo—that students leave my classroom able to read pop culture forms—and to my love of the horror genre.  It fascinates me to no end that the monsters in horror films allow us to assess the cultural and political climate of the time in which it was produced.  I am especially intrigued by recent shifts toward “torture porn,” the term coined by Eli Roth regarding Hostel.  In these films, great care is taken to depict, as realistically as possible, the inner workings of the human body and how easily it breaks down in catastrophe.

For instance, the Final Destination franchise gives us increasingly convoluted and grisly ways to die, starting with asphyxiation in a shower and progressing toward death by race car tire and escalator belt, each replete with viscera and still-twitching limbs.  The Saw franchise, quality-rated by the number of viewers who vomited or had to leave the theater, calls itself psychological horror; in reality it uses torture porn—in the form of mechanical traps reminescent of Rube Goldberg—as a justifiable means to an end.  Perhaps at the release of Saw I, the monstrous message was different, but later installments equated traps with pure justice: that is, an individual confronted with a death machine based on his crimes or flaws serves justice unto himself.  It’s the old “give him a taste of his own medicine” shtick, only exaggeratedly amplified.  The health insurance executive learns how horrible a cost-benefit approach to human life is; the fraudulent self-help guru is forced to undergo the trials he claims to have experienced.

And viewers have picked up on this.   Continue reading

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The Nemesis Project: Art/New Media as Protest.

20 May 2011, 10:30p.m. @ Chinese Consulate in NY:

Cuban artist Geandy Pavon, a self-professed “idolator who suspects images,” has dedicated his Nemesis project “to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who has been jailed by Chinese authorities.

The performance consisted in [sic] a projection of a video using sunflower oil as a medium that reflects the face of Ai Weiwei on the facade of the Chinese Consulate in New York City” (Pavon).  Weiwei, who had been speaking out against the Chinese government, has been under arrest since 3 April.  An exhibit of some of his work can be seen @ Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan. Continue reading

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