So much going on in the past couple months that I’ve barely had time to process it all!
A couple weeks ago I attended the #TransformDH (un)conference at the University of Maryland. #TransformDH is a distributed collective and a movement for transformative digital humanities work that bridges activist spaces both in and outside the academy. Alongside feminists, queer theorists, and critical race theorists in science and technology studies and (new) media studies, #TransformDH questions discourses of neutrality that surround digital technology in order to think about the ethics and politics of how technologies are designed, consumed, and reappropriated. Several years ago, in the first Introduction to Digital Humanities class offered at UMD, I gave a presentation on #TransformDH, so the event felt like a great opportunity to think about how my interests in digital humanities have shifted and evolved.
The unconference featured a fantastic video showcase that highlighted a range of art activisms, and also gave me hope for emergent conference formats and scholarly spaces that attempt to value theory that is not only written or verbally presented. Along these lines, I embroidered a logo for the event using a sewable LED, which Reed Bonnet photographed using a long exposure. Working on a collaborative project like this reminded me how vital different kinds of technological and media literacies are in combination, especially in digital humanities projects, where it is difficult if not impossible for one individual to have all the skills and knowledge necessary to finish something. I could not have transformed this physical artifact into a (beautiful) digital image without Reed’s help. This was my way of combining the digital labor of my hands and fingers, working through a very old feminine technology, with the mediated travel of images that digital photography and the internet makes possible.
The organizers put the logo on a sticker, which turned out really nicely and, I’m proud to say, is now gracing the laptops and notebooks of transformative digital humanities scholars from all over!
You can watch the plenary by some of the original members of the #TransformDH collective and the keynote by Lisa Nakamura at the conference site’s livestream archive. They need help transcribing the events to make them more accessible, so consider contributing! I’m grateful for all the labor that went into making these events possible.
In other news, I finally finished revising “Making Queer Love: A Kit of Odds and Ends” for the open-access online journal Hyperrhiz. The short essay should be up on the site soon. The kit itself is going to be on display in the Digital Studies Center of Rutgers University Camden. You can see some earlier documentation of the process of putting together the kit in this post. The kit and the essay are also accompanied by a zine, “A Kit of Odds and Ends: A Love Letter to Queer Feminist Crafters.” It’s sort of weird to think about my work existing on display in a physical space for a few days or most of a semester, not to mention online for anyone to come across. I would like to think that the kit, which consists of very tangible craft objects and ephemera, represents an intervention into digital (humanities) scholarship that prioritizes big data, born-digital projects, and social media research, but I’m somewhat anxious that people will dismiss the project as “not digital.” In the project, secondhand craft supplies become a kind of queer social media, circulating in a very material way to show how craft processes and projects mediate our everyday worlds.
And last but not least, this weekend I’m participating in the Pittsburgh Feminist Zinefest! I finished a new zine, “Work: A Zine about Office Life” (pdf coming soon), that follows up on “Study: A Zine about Surviving Graduate School.” I think I’ve been amassing collage content for Work for several years now, so it feels really good to be able to pick up right where I left off and actually finish something! Having never tabled at a zinefest, I’m realizing I’m going to need to print waaaayyyyy more copies….
It’s refreshing to return to zines after working in other media. I’m thinking the next in the series should probably be titled “Sex: A Zine about…You Know.”