Making Meaning Matter

The Evergreen State College

Author: Lauren

CST week 10

Suzanne: “So here’s the thing. He wants to buy you guys out. He doesn’t want the ride or the town. He just wants- I don’t know- the creativity. The PR win. He wants peace. And the real news is. he’s over the barrel. Freddy’s forcing his hand. If we can make that problem go away, we can ask for anything…” (Doctorow 388)

“I met a man a couple of weeks ago who had dreadlocks down to his knees, shredded jeans, and a leather jacket with amazing etchings all over it. I went over to see what he was working on and discovered another accidental entrepreneur.” (Hatch, 195).

This quote represents the relationship between technology and capitalism and how the two fuel each other. We, this class, are participants in this relationship. An example of this is purely the texts we read each week. One, an entrepreneurs perspective on the makers movement and how it changing small business opportunity and the other, a creative science fiction novel that spans time and character narrative moralities to flush out the tension in the makers movement with capitalism. This quote touches on creativity as currency, and the appearance of power in public sphere, all of which can be seen in modern company models (Makerbot, Apple, etc). As Hatch awkwardly points out, even someone who wears shredded jeans can do it! (?) I found this quote in the Makers Manifesto to represent the underlying voice of condescension mixed with And-You-Can-Too! that Hatch has describing creative innovation in the tech world. In our own microcosm of technology and creativity in Making Meaning Matter we have to navigate artistic landscapes, while attempting to create something purposeful, with innovation in technology and design. This has created quite a transposition between conversation in ‘the real world’ the Evergreen microcosm, and the various personalities of the class.

iCyborga- Lauren 2014-12-01 11:56:44

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week 8 CST

“Death was used to drawing stares even before he became a cyborg with a beautiful woman beside him, but this was different” (Doctorow, 339).

Speaking of cyborgs and stares… I wanted to make my cyborg have movable limps to bring more life to ‘her’ movements. John and I designed a socket attachments that would allow the arms and legs to move. We also found an already proven, similar model on tinkercad. We pulled the arms and legs off of my virtual body which was creepy and fascinating.

4th Iteration photo: Cyborgs humans animals time


This image is a created based on Donna Haraways Cyborg Manifesto. The connection of animal to human to machine- natural/non-natural, work to create a kind of self portrait, as my project itself is a form of self-portraiture.


As I extend myself into future, upload download manipulate and reproduce, I look to the past. I grew up in Arizona, the desert, on disputed land, on stolen land. A photograph from the Archived west, white men-Troop C, 5th Calvary to be exact, who arrested boomers and squatters prior to opening of Oklahoma, no mention of the role of the black woman- or of course the cyborg and white woman from 2014.

Troop`C,’ 5th Cavalry, which arrested boomers and squatters prior to opening of Oklahoma, ca. 1888. 111-SC-87369.


Cyborg. 2012.


Personal photograph by author. 2014. By Lauren Steury.

Black and white medium format photography. What is it like to move like a cyborg, to be a cyborg? to be a woman? to move in space and light?


_MG_1042 copy

Personal photograph by author. 2014. By Lauren Steury.

A joke, of sorts.


Woman Shots. N.d. Josh’s Awesome 3D Blog of Awesomeness. Web. 18 Nov. 2014output_KbnTgm

Recreating the 3D woman. Lauren Steury. 2014.



Mating Ritual or 3D Scan?

Steph brings up the politics of 3D scanning. Representation and agency of a body that we lose control over once its uploaded to the web, but gain the ability to manipulate and distort the body? Zev is unmoved. He volunteers to be scanned and in what appears to be some sort of mating dance (from an alien perspective) leads to the production of a virtual Zev body, that could be birthed through the womb of 3D printer. Reproduction in its most abiotic form.

Reclaiming the 360



What does it mean? Why does it matter!

Well, thinking about my three dimensional self in technology, and taking that into my work as a photographer, I made an animated gif of myself using an old mimiya camera (see below) and 120mm film. Our class has been questioning the difference between 3D scan and photography as forms of technology that interfere (good or bad) with identity representation and of course the objectifying gaze.

acpeFrjr woman-gif


CST week 6



“It was telling the story he know, of growing up with an indefinable need to be different to reject the mainstream and to embrace this subculture and aesthetic” Doctorow 289

“Another of my favorite DARPA projects is the Adaptive Vehicle Make program. This is an experiment in creating a new way to develop vehicle platforms for the military by crowdsourcing the design and then using a distributed manufacturing facility to build them. It actually worked.” Hatch 159


I like to imagine us (us as in Evergreen students, us an in radical reject creative folk, us who grew up with the need to be different to reject mainstream, us who embrace this subculture) as the kind of ‘kids’ who would  take Perry and Lesters ride into our own hands to create something. In reality there is us (us the American population, us the American right, us the patriot, us the war monger, us the capitalists) who open source create a “military vehicle” as Hatch puts it, which is a drone. A DRONE. Not (1.) a low humming sound, not (2.) a male bee in a colony of social bees, which does no work but can fertilize a queen, a person who does no useful work and lives off others but (3.)  a killing machine. A remote controlled weapon of war used to kill people. That is what we (USA) have so thoughtfully contributed to opensource.

But really:
“That definition fits a $140 million Global Hawk drone, circling over Afghanistan and transmitting video to Air Force intelligence analysts in California. But it also describes the $500 foam plane that my children fly on weekends. Both have sophisticated computer autopilots, high-resolution cameras (we’re partial to GoPros), wireless data connections for video and telemetry, ground stations with heads-up displays and real-time video (my kids were disappointed at a recent tour of the Oshkosh air show to see that today’s military drone pilots have worse ground stations than they do), step-by-step mission scripting, and the capability to play back footage of the mission in full” -Anderson

See more:
How I Accidentally Kickstarted the Domestic Drone Boom


2nd Iteration of iCyborga by Lauren

Lauren Steury

Making Meaning Matter

November 4, 2014



We make our identities tangible through material object and place- however, with emerging technology, the construction and consumption of identity is transferred to the digital rather than the physical. Virtual identities, assembled through social media, dating sites, personal blogs, and websites- may or may not correspond to real life (RL) identities, though they are axiomatically related:

Digital identity construction (Nguyen and Alexander 1996) makes it possible to express latent and nested identities (Herb and Kaplan 1999) or to more fully disclose aspects of the self that are difficult to represent physically. Alternatively, CMEs (computer mediated environments) also enable people to conceal aspects of their selves that they find undesirable (Schau and Gilly 388).


Aren’t our idyllic selves creations and expression that are just as valid as our ‘real life’ selves? Gender, age, appearance, personality are all social constructs upheld through silent agreement of shared culture. Now, through increased access to semiotic tools and cultural artifact (Appadurai 1996) the self is overtly constructed, duplicated, multiple identities can be expressed, and referencing of brands, symbols, texts, pop culture, is easier than ever through a digital medium and refined for social consumption. Digital tools and easy access to the web are diversifying and complicating the discourse on identity as Hope Jensen Schau and Mary C. Gilly address in We Are What We Post? Self-Presentation in Personal Web Space:

Identities often consist of abstractions left intangible by intention (we are what we choose not to have by voluntary abstention), as a result of few resources (we cannot afford to consume what would flesh out or identities), through denial (we choose not to reveal aspects of identity or obscure their presence), or because the identities are not prone to concrete expression (we cannot locate strategies to express complex facets of our identities)… Personal Web space, with its limitless digital symbols may allow researchers a glimpse of the selves consumers wish they had (Schau and Gilly 387).

The web has made self-representation possible through intangible, non physical objects while still allowing for the same implied meaning of such objects. It is no secret that these new modes of expression are highly edited and sculpted, so the illusion of creation is unveiled. With the heightened awareness that these identities are partial truth, partial fantasy, we tend to take this personal information at face value and more or less accept it as both truth and construct whether it be a comment on life experience, physical appearance, gender, or personality.

These emerging theories on identity creation and how technology complicates said creation are central to cyberfeminist theory which is where my work as an artist emerges from. In working with 3D printing I can’t avoid the meta-symbolism of construction, and reproduction. The (dis)connection between (wo)man and machine and how the boundaries between them become blurred, is at the heart of my 3D printing and film work.

To explore the coupling of woman and machine, one must look to Donna Hanaway’s Cyborg Manifesto where she defines a cyborg as a “cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction” (Haraway 291). But the cyborg is so much more, as Haraway explains:

My cyborg myth is about transgressed boundaries, potent fusions and dangerous possibilities which progressive people might explore as one part of needed political world… From one perspective, a cyborg world is about the final imposition of a grid of control on the planet…waged in the name of defense, about the final appropriation of women’s bodies in a masculinist orgy of ware. From another perspective a cyborg might be about lived social and bodily realities in which people are not afraid of their joint kinship with animals and machines, not afraid of permanently partial identities and contradictory standpoints (Haraway 295).


The cyborg is the rebellious, illegitimate child of technology and military that strays into the radical abolition of power structures such as gender. It undermines the animal-human, nature-machine, physical-nonphysical (virtural) boundaries that cyberfeminism brings into question. The Culture of Copy explains not only our obsession with creating in our own image (which I am literally doing) but also how we use artificial life as metaphor for ourselves. We shape our definition of life and intelligence in tandem with our experience of hardware and software, for example, the virus, and the obsession with making a machine that can think and feel (Alan Turing). Just as capitalist, patriarchal society seeks hegemony, computer science in many regards seeks to make a machine that can “pass” as human:

There is little difference, come to think of it, between the passing of a man for a woman, a machine for a human, an Indian for an Englishman, or a black man for a white man in the Turing test. An epitome of our culture of the copy, the tests appears to be a fine filter for the uniquely human, but presupposes, as did Turing, that passing is profitable…” (Schwartz 352).


Hegemony shows himself even in machines, therefore feminism will respond through radicalizing the discussion of the cyborg. When the personal is political, how do we maintain our sense of self, agency, and power, when our bodies themselves can be scanned, transformed, manipulated even outside of our own control?

I will make a film that continues this question of a machine passing (and intentionally failing) to show the irony and humor in the (wo)man/machine relationship:

The cyborg is our ontology; it gives us our politics. The cyborg is a condensed image of both imagination and material reality, the two joined centers structuring any possibility of historical transformation (Haraway 297).


The idea of a cyborg, (wo)man/machine, or beast/human, is not new as we know from the classic literature of Mary Shelleys Frankenstein. Shelley Jackson (a precursor to my own cyborg creation through film and 3D printing) reworks the digital, female form of Frankenstein in Patchwork Girl a hypertext. Jenny Sunden cites the piece in her analaysis of the human monster, and the creation of womans body in technology:

Interlinkages between text, body, and machine are always present in acts of writing/reading, but they become explicitly intimate when texts are digitized…The body of the female monster created through digital texts and images becomes entwined with the body of the reader through his or her physical engagement with the computer… (Sunden 152)


I seek to build on this body of digital/human engagement with the idea of cyborgs by reproducing my own image in 3D and positioning ‘her’ as an embodiment of my digital self. I am taking my digital identity, carefully constructed for social approval and consumption and birthing it into the physical world. Just as Hathaway argues that cyborgs cross the physical and virtual boundaries, my 3D self will be a cyborg come to life through film. My 3D doppelganger will replace me as a way of taking my virtual identity or “digital double” into the physical world. This film will stay relevant and interesting through humor and irony. I am responding to Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto and using it as my inspiration.

Irony is about contradictions that do not resolve into larger wholes, even dialectically, about the tension of holding incompatible things together because both or all are necessary and true. Irony is about humour and serious play. It is also about rhetorical strategy and a political method, one I would like to see more honoured within socialist-feminism (Haraway 292).

I am using the cyborg as a reference to the feminist dialogue with technology and nature. Technology is influenced, even derivative of, society and culture and therefore from normativity and patriarchy. Where eco-feminism seeks to return to nature (the mother) cyberfeminism seeks to use technology as a radical tool for deconstruction and as a platform for change. On the Importance of Being a Cyborg Feminist, Kyle Munkittrick uses the analogy of eco-feminists fighting fire with water, to cyber feminism fighting fire with fire. Cyberfemnism gives us the tools to deconstruct the very definition of “human” which changes alongside time and innovation. My work is a dialogue with what it means to be human, specifically female, in a patriarchal world. The film will, through a feminist lens, act out the ironic relationship between cyborg and woman, technology and humanity, finite and infinite.

The skeleton of my work has been clearly outlined here, through identity construction via technology, cyberfeminism, irony/humor, and feminist politics. The conversation happening between these texts and the present moment is where my film lies. I will birth my virtual identity into physicality through 3D printing. Through film, I can (humorously) depict how a cyborg version of my idyllic self could play my role in life, by replacing me in my everyday routine. My cyborg rises with the sun, she meditates, does yoga, interacts with my lovers, goes to a coffee shop, has ‘girl talk’ with friends, and is positioned, like me, as a white, 20-something, polyamorous, pansexual female in 2014. The cyborg, and therefore my use of the cyborg in film, as a symbol of dualism and unity, bounded and the boundless, past/present/future, is the perfect tool to explore the expression of identity and the future of feminism. My film is taking the self-portrait, the selfie, copy culture and identity in relation to feminism and technology, to the next level.
















Works Cited

Smelik, Anneke, and Nina Lykke. “An Introduction.” Bits of Life: Feminism at the
Intersections of Media, Bioscience, and Technology
. Seattle: U of Washington, 2008. Print.


Sunden, Jenny. “What If Frankenstein(‘s Monster) Was a Girl?” Bits of Life: Feminism at the Intersections of Media, Bioscience, and Technology. Seattle: U of Washington, 2008. Print.


Jensen Schau, Hope, and Mary C. Gilly. “We Are What We Post? Self‐Presentation In Personal Web Space.” Journal of Consumer Research 30.3 (2008): 385-404. JSTOR. The University of Chicago Press. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <>.


Schwartz, Hillel. “Discernement.” The Culture of the Copy. New York: Zone, 1996. 352. Print.


Haraway, Donna. “A Cyborg Manifesto.” The Cybercultures Reader. London: Routledge, 2000. Print.


Munkittrick, Mark. “On the Importnace of Being a Cyborg Feminist.” Humanity. 21 July 2009. Web. 4 Nov. 2014.

Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1996. Print.

CST week 5

A ranting inspired by Sitting, Writing, Speaking, Yearning: Reflections on Scholar-Shaping Techniques

“The human body can no longer be figured either as a bounded entity or as a naturally given and distinct part of an unquestioned whole that is itself conceived as the “environment.” The boundaries between bodies and their components are being blurred, together with those between bodies and larger ecosystems” (Smelik, Lykke x)
-Bits of Life

In seminar last week, I noticed the way we talked about the technological community at a distance- “they” and we spoke about American culture as a whole, a broad America, and about the relationship between technology and human interaction in pedagogy. The only thing missing in our conversations was our own presence, our own insertion of self and therefore self awareness, into the dialogue. We spoke as if we were not in the technological community ourselves dispite our constant engagement with it in and outside the classroom, as if Americans were animals in a zoo we had recently visited and not in fact our own culture, and we spoke of learning as if we ourselves are not students. It was quite strange.

You may have notices that sometimes I roll around on the floor. I stretch my legs over my head, I twist my back and reach my arms up and up and up overhead.  Sometimes people stare at me. Maybe they don’t know why I am rolling on the floor of the classroom? Well I am doing it because it feels good, it circulates my blood, it brings energy into my brain. Referencing the body so overtly in a room designed for intellectual exercise only- seems to make people uncomfortable, embarrassed, or at the very least, interested.

This comes back to the moment where a man holding a scanner, leashed to a computer dutifuly held by another (man) circle my body in the corner of a computer lab. Circling while I stand with out moving. Circling while others stream over to watch. Circling while me behind, where I am aware of my body in the classroom, my body on the screen, that I am a woman, the contours of my ass, the shape I am becoming, the fact I didnt brush my hair. This is the literal process of creating plastic reproduction- the DNA of my miniature 3D plastic self. There is something uncomfortably physical about the copulating of digital and physical world to create another person- the lifeless and plastic mini self that is birthed through 3D printer. My classmates, witness to this dance, are drawn to reproduction in the way, and get scans of themselves in turn.

Lykke, Nina. “An Introduction.” Bits of Life: Feminism at the Intersections of Media, Bioscience, and Technology. Ed. Anneke Smelik. Seattle: U of Washington, 2008. X. Print.

CST week 4

CST Week 5

“In VEs (Virtual Environments), a quasi merger of embodied perception and externally transmitted conception happens at the level of sensation. The appeal of this electronically facilitated merger is reflected in the current grown of cultural and academic interest in the cyborg- the human-machine…”
-Digital Sensations: Space, Identity, and Embodiment in Virtual Reality

Where do we end and machine begin?

Technology is striving to shrink or exterminate the gap between human mind and computer capability. Parallel to this is the play between artist/artisan and computer science as a new tool in the artists toolbox. From my observation of the class’s way of interfacing with Tinkercad, the transition is in its young adult life, but by no means matured. There is the angst of wanting. A yearning for the product to be a refined work, and yet the actuality is an experimental shout into the material world. A culmination of basic shapes into slightly more complex structures that are seeking to be fully formed. But how can a (sub)culture already critical of plastic reproduction take printmaking seriously? Only when our identities become involved, or personal investment in the object itself, can we overlook the tackiness of young adult plastic. So where are we headed? As our class becomes for fluid with Tinkercad, and our theoretical ideas progress, we are headed in the direction of modern sculpture and biographical objects.