I want to start my presentation by addressing the space that we are currently occupying in relation to the possible re:definitions of intimacy, gesture, embodiment, and “the real” or “the authentic”. Right now, my computer screen serves itself as the virtual window, or membrane between “inside and outside”, through which a framing of a private view outward creates the “picture window” and a framing of the public view inward creates the “display window”. In this space, there exists profound vulnerability. The word “private” does not only come to signify the domain of capitalist economies but also the domain of personal freedom and domestic intimacy. It no longer becomes easy to distinguish spectator from creator, inside from outside. In this space, we must collectively ask, what allows us to break through the glass? What is at stake when smashing through the screen?
These ideas tie in really well with all of the work being done by myself and the rest of the body politics group as we each confront deeply the personal as political,,,, which speaks also to a “politics of desire” where we are asking questions of: who is seen or unseen? What are the emotional and political implications of not being represented or allowed to show love? How does counter public resistance get coopted by capitalism through social media, making the public private and the private public?
I’d like to open with a quote by artist and musician Holly Herndon, whose work negotiates our daily encounters with surveillance. She asks:
“Is everything done privately on my laptop to be considered a public performance?”
The four of us are interrogating the complexities of body and identity in the shifting landscape of today.
We are each trying to operate outside of what has been determined for us.
We are using the code of technology to alter the program,
and we are using our artistic practice to fuck with expectation:
expectation of fashion,
and of reality.
I wanted to use the form of this presentation to call into question notions of the “whole” or “unified” body.
Through my research of surveillance, and especially facial recognition software, I have discovered that your physical body and the data of your body are easily separated.
I am then forced to ask:
How is my image used against me?
How is it used without my consent
and in service of capitalism, nationalism, and neo-colonialism?
Here is an example of the strengthening (already airtight) bonds between capitalism and surveillance:
In order to work efficiently, biometric surveillance relies on strict categories of identity, in particular: gender, race, age, and ability.
These systems must be able to place people (almost)instantaneously-
this is a process that relies on databases that are coded according to these “legible” markers.
But, the essentializing categories that make this software work,
can be turned back upon the system to make it fail.
For example: “feminine” and “masculine” hairstyles are routinely used to structure facial recognition algorithms.
It would be easy for us to bend the gendered constructions of appearance in order to create confusion in such a well-ordered system.
As artist and creator of CVDazzle, Adam Harvey, tells us:
“Surveillance relies on conformity.”
In my work:
I wanted to make and object
that could object.
I intended for my project to be an intervention into the assumed trajectory of compliance.
I’ve called this work radical camouflage, in that these wearable represent a technique of survival.
As I mentioned last week, I designed them through the language of code shifting,
the process of routinely adapting oneself to different environments.
They can be worn around the neck when one is safe,
then pulled up to obscure the face when one is not.
This is my response to the question I asked weeks ago:
What do you do when visibility itself becomes compliance?
I consider these pieces not to be an “answer” per say,
but rather a manner of speaking about
or strategy of being in the world.
I’ll give some highlights from my Chapter to conclude:
The title image is my attempt to broaden the familiar, visual language of surveillance. Thinking of how its common representations fail to encompass its ubiquitous nature.
The caption reads:
Portrait of the artist as a young biometric subject
What do we do when visibility itself
As technologies in surveillance progress, it becomes increasingly evident that the body is a contested site where negotiations with power are played out. With this
understanding, how can we adapt our interface (our very bodies) and claim
agency once again?
As an artist working in response to surveillance, I am looking to unmake:
-fixed notions of identity
-our burgeoning police-state
-the racialization of suspicion
-our increasing inability to access
that which is collected from
“Fashion responds to the fears, anxieties, and goals of the culture at the time.”
– Adam Harvey
“Absence disrupts the illusion of presence, revealing its lack of originary plenitude. Randomness tears holes in pattern, allowing the white noise of the background to pour through.”- Katherine Hayle
Hello! I’m Daniel and I going to tell you about our imminent demise! As the generation born into late trickledown capitalist society, we’ve witnessed firsthand accounts of events projecting the collapse of the world as we know it: ie global warming, student debt crisis, the past month has been full of police riots that have ignited feverish debate over the interconnectivity of white power, the police state, and accountability/ the lack thereof for those in positions of authority, /sighs/ oh god what else I mean there’s rampant over pollution due to overproduction and the pacific garbage island is growing rapidly every day; y’know you get the picture I only have like 10 minutes to break this down so I’m just going to move on.
So think about the prospects for the future for the millennial generation in relation to the question: “what will end first: civilization or capitalism?” it’s no doubt that capitalism is what got us here but will it survive once it’s byproducts catalyze our demise? The future is an uncertain realm to exist in, what I’ll be referring to as, the “not yet here” in relation to the “here and now” in which we currently operate. If the apocalypse is not tangibly foreseeable we can consider it to be a potentiality existing in the horizon: the mode of operation in which I refer to as “the apocalyptic horizon”.
So in regards to the question of “in a world full of too much stuff what is worth materializing?” my mind turns to the realm of fashion and clothing: a product that is dumped into landfills once it cannot be circulated in stores any longer for either being out of season or simply being of flawed quality. In addition to this, thoughtfully designed clothing items are presented a year before their release during institutions like “Fashion Weeks”, an act that is literally projecting aesthetics existing in the not yet here for the later consumption of them once the not yet here becomes the here and now.
The current influx of brands working within the aesthetic of the post apocalyptic, which examples can be found in a “VFILE” on my blog, exemplifies the symbiotic nature of pop culture (ie: we give pop culture its power, we succumb to pop’s power, pop feeds us as we give it power cyclically) and how projections of futurity often become self fulfilling prophecies. The significance of this aesthetic in relation to futurity is that these projections of the apocalyptic are, in a way, reflections of a dissatisfaction of the here and now, which is integral to the theory of queer futurity and utopianism. Jose Muñoz states that:
“Queerness is that thing that lets us feel that this world is not enough, that indeed something is indeed missing. Often we can glimpse the worlds proposed and promised by queerness and the realm of the aesthetic, frequently contains blueprints and schemata of a forward dawning futurity. Both the ornamental and the quotidian can contain a map of the utopia that is queerness. Turning to the aesthetic in the case of queerness is nothing like an escape from the social realm, insofar as queer aesthetics map future social relations… Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world” (Muñoz, 1)
Incidentally, all of the heads of the fashion houses I have listed in my “VFILE” are queer identified and their work is an expression of a dissatisfaction of the here and now: aestheticized projections of the not yet here that will ultimately be fulfilled in what will later be the here and now. The queer artists and designers that have informed this conceptual foundation of this work of crafting blueprints towards utopian alternatives create work that are meant to arm, armor, defend against the impending doomsday that lurks in the horizon, revealing that possibly after Armageddon what will be left is queers, twinkies, and cockroaches. The notion that queerness has informed alternatives outside the here and now in order to ornament/adorn oneself for the environment of the apocalypse is an incredibly powerful statement that I assert is evident in the work I have done this quarter.
So if blueprints of utopianism are evident in queer aesthetics in the face of the apocalyptic horizon in the forms of the ornamental and quotidian, how can I make work with a 3d printer, an object that has been heavily projected with universality and accessibility in the future, and solve the issue of overproduction in the context of the garment industry? My answer is something of a cop out: overproduction in late capitalism is both an inevitability and one of the pillars upholding the apocalyptic horizon, so I created the “Kat’s Cradle” fabric which is constructed of circular chain mail style pieces that can be added and removed depending on the needs of the user. The practical application of this fabric is going to be put in use as a final product in the form of a bra for my best friend Kat, a queer identified transgender woman, that will be able to be manipulated throughout her transition as her estrogen treatments make her breasts grow. This garment is in tandem with her physical actualization, embodying her identity is on the horizon in the face of a not yet here that plagues trans women. When we consider that trans women are 16 times more likely to be murdered purely due of hate violence, and that the lifespan of a trans woman is roughly 30-32 years old simply due to being a recipient of hate violence we can see that the here and now is not a place that is kind or forgiving to those who are most marginalized in our society. Life for trans women is survival, as is most life for the marginalized, but more so for trans women. In a time when queer and trans liberation is quantified in terms of assimilation to the late capitalist society that reinforces what oppresses us, this production garment is undeniably praxis of actualizing queer aesthetics in the face of the apocalyptic horizon as a reaction against the discontents of late capitalism.
When producing this garment, my intentionality was to create an object that solves the problem of overproduction through continual production of a solid object and the issue that clothing is garbage once we cannot fit into it, I ran into many obstacles. I realized I was not as proficient in CAD software as I thought, and on top of that I had zero experience with any sort of garment or fabric production so entering this work I was wholly unprepared. However through perseverance and multiple attempts at materialization I was able to come up with a semi large scale prototype that adequately illustrates the parameters in which the fabric operates.
It is really easy to write off fashion trends like “the post apocalyptic aesthetic” as passé but in actuality, doing so is disengaging with something that we are all a part of regardless of our consciousness to our own contributions. Upon further analysis of my “Kats Cradle”, an object that is an active doing for and toward the not yet here in response to the oppression existing in the here and now, the rings that can exist on their own become a more solid object in unity: similarly to the concept of intersections in the face of oppression helping lead to more productive discourses and solidarities. Intersections of transgender oppression are contingent with that of all oppressions, which I assert is part of the blueprinting of utopia that exists in the modality of queerness.
So in conclusion: using the machine that has been so heavily projected with being “the future” by making an object that tries to solve the problem with overproduction through gradual and constant production adorned as an ornament of a transgender body in relation to queer aesthetics and the apocalyptic horizon is contingent with the idea of subverting our here and now of pollution, overproduction, and violence thus answering the question of “what is worth materializing?”. If apocalypse is on the horizon, we may as well be dressed for it.