“So what’s going on here?  It sounds like you’re whipped.  Why aren’t you fighting?” -Suzanne Church, Makers p.114

“I’ve been standing on the bridge of this sinking ship with my biggest smile pasted on…. Just because I’m giving up doesn’t mean I gave up without a fight.” -Kettlewell, Makers p.114

“Yet despite persistent mechanical failures, biometric technologies still accomplish a great deal for state and commercial actors whose interests are tied to contemporary cultures of security and fear.  In this sense, biometric technologies succeed even when they fail.  On the other hand, even when they function technically, biometrics do real damage to vulnerable people and groups, to the fabric of democracy, and to the possibility of a better understanding of the bodies and identities these technologies are supposedly intended to protect.  In this sense biometric technologies fail even when they succeed.” -Shoshana Magnet, When Biometrics Fail p.3


This week, I began my observations with a question about the different performances we each enact.  Student, to artist, to designer, to audience member… even our gender (as Judith Butler would say) is a performance.

(What performances are enacted through the other agents of 3D printing?)

Thinking of performance inevitably led to questions of function and failure.  The generative nature of failure lies in its ability to engage us with the imperfect messiness of both experimentation and creation.  In a capitalist, heteronormative, racist, sexist, ableist culture, failure itself becomes a form of resistance.  A denial to perfectly smooth compartmentalization.

As Student B was describing their student performance anxiety over their shoulder to me, I began to think about how our histories are inscribed upon us.  Student B, recently deployed from the service, conveyed an utterly stultifying sense of anxiety and fear about his work.  About being “good enough”.  I wonder if the regimented behavioral program of the US military had ingrained this fear of failure.  Or perhaps when lives are at risk, failure and experimentation become impossibilities.

How do our histories peer through our performances?

How do they shape what we “decide” to make?