Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I love peeking behind the scenes.  Seeing the construction.    The studio visits in 804 were one recent opportunity.  Cynthia's re-re-presentation of "Avatar Nation" was another—although this might be less behind-the-scenes and more behind-the-process.  The revisions, for me, were the main attraction.  The most substantial remix involved the images, video, and machinimas.  They were much more integrated into the presentation and yet much more autonomous from the oral presentation.  What I mean is that they were not illustrations of written examples.  They were not iterations of talking points.  They were not set up.  They were not explained (at least not explicitly until the Q&A).  They were allowed to communicate as images.  Fluid ruptures, in a sense, from the spoken word.

In some of my work—my manifesto, papers for 801, blogging in 804—I've been a little obsessed with the relationship between word and image.  They're starting to seem like siblings now: sometimes at play together, sometimes punching each other in the eyes and the mouth.  Image would be the elder sibling.  Word the bigger sibling.  If I've become one of their countless parents, then I've been sending Word to his room a lot.  Word needs a time out.

As an academic, how do I give Word a time out at a conference?  Everyone expects a reading or, if image is at all considered, a Powerpoint (Image's recent best friend, popular with all the popular people, but starting to seem, on good days, like an underachiever, and, on bad days, like an abusive boyfriend).

Maybe the World of Warcraft virtual conference is the answer.  Here the image, and the game, will always keep the Word in line.  The drawback, though, is that for all its many wonders,WOW is terribly austere in the wonders it allows its players to create (here too is my major critique of claims that the game is anti-establishment; it may be if we define the establishment as everything except the world the game establishes; from that, the designers have made it very difficult to rebel; carnevale only occurs when Blizzard hangs the decorations and hands out the masks).

Considering another, more open world like Second Life reminds us of the allure of WOW and makes its loss almost intolerable.  In Second Life anything goes, so much so that nothing goes.  The world thrives on user-generated content, which flourishes outside any narrative.  There is no game.  There is no frame.  There is no structure to the aesthetic.

If we want to reground the conference presentation, virtual worlds may not necessarily be the new dirt, but they certainly offer a valuable vantage point.  If image and word are to cooperate, narrative, and therefore performance, must return to the stage.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Structure Project

I'm thinking about ways to look at the Myers-Briggs personality type indicators for my structure project. I worked in an office where people were defined by their Myers-Briggs indicators and their actions were scrutinized based on their four-letter diagnosis. Like Wendy, I am also considering a game format...perhaps a maze...made of cubicles of course:)

Did I miss the point or did he lose it??? The point that is

Wendy stated in our class with Christina, while viewing black and white pictures taken in (I forget where) that the pictures seemed sad and devoid of life (forgive me..this is not a verbatim account). Upon reading Ulmer, I share the same sentiments to a degree. Ulmer's emonuments seems sad and devoid of life in that the examples he brings to us time and again focus on disasters and the questions/desires that stem from them. Car accidents, child murders, 9/11 ...oh my! he states that emonuments must have a punctum...that it must create within a viewer a peircing that opens them to the experience of what they are taking in. I have no doubt that Ulmer priviledges death as a the ultimate punctum. Though he allows us to use emonuments for our own purposes it does not offset his example of tragedy as an exemplar: a model/original/archetype.

What of color, sublime life, and dancing?

Though he does not state that this should not be the subject matter he does not imply explicitly that it should be.

Given the restriction of the form as a monument - which entails a looking back - I wonder if it doesn't have the capacity (which I think it does) to witness through a pleasant punctum that which is all around, but due to its encompassing presence not always acknowledged. Perhaps he believes that should be relegated to the arts: poetry and the like. All forms that he taps into to inform his conception of emonuments. Perhaps it is not his intention to deal with the dead...given that a part (I hesitate to say most) of the theory which informs his emonuments comes from dead people and then maybe it was.

Though he states that emonuments are for the living - a dialouge between the living...I cant help but see the parallels between this conversation he wishes us as egents to have (supposedly new and radical) and the conversations that have gone on before. Essentially a superimposition of traditional exhibitions onto an electrate medium/media.

It seems that Ulmer might have gotten away from himself in over theorizing simple traditional tenets that have been dictating the creation of alternative forms of communication as witnessed in the arts through the ages. I wonder what Christina or Varnette Honeywood (artist), or Picasso, or Gertrude Stein, or Wanda Coleman (poet, screenwriter) would have to say about his work?
Would their collective response be:
Why / Y you've stated what we've been about all along...(aside from all the death and dying that is)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Where do I begin? Ulmer has given us so much to think about. I'll begin by confessing that every time I sit down to read EM and consider the ramifications of MEmorials, I am forced to think about a tragedy that occurred in my family just over two years ago. It was the Friday before Labor Day and time for the annual family reunion on my mother's side in celebration of the Roseboro clan. My four year old cousin, Assadi (Arabic for Isaiah) was playing around in the driveway as my mom's nephew, Assadi's dad, Isey (as we call him) was cleaning out his car and getting ready for the drive from Roanoke, VA to Baltimore, MD where the family reunion was being hosted that year. Somehow, Assadi found my cousin Isey's loaded gun under the driver side seat and shot himself in the head. He was killed instantly. The whole situation was tragic and pointless. Everyone was sickened by the news. Why did Isey have a loaded pistol in his car? How did Assadi get to it so quickly? Suddenly, my grandmother's house, where the shooting took place, was the site of breaking action news. Family and friends forwarded online newspaper articles for details. It was surreal. Because Assadi's mom is a Muslim, he was buried within 48 hours of his death, so no one from our side of the family had a chance to say goodbye. We were all so shocked and trying to pull it together. Before we knew it, it was done. That weekend the family reunion went on as planned in Baltimore without those family members immediately touched by the tragedy. To this day, I'm not even sure if there was an official mention of it at the actual reunion that year.

The following year, another family reunion was held in Charlotte, NC and I decided to attend. Strangely, eerily there was no mention of little Assadi. Not one. I mentioned the omission to my mother, but that was it. It was like it had never even happened. I wondered about this to myself and believe I might have a clue as to why our family could not bare to utter a word about the tragedy. That year, the reunion committee produced a play about the origins of the Roseboros, which is traced back to Rubin Roseboro. While Rubin was not the first Roseboro out of slavery in our family, he was the first to own land. For that reason, he's noted as the founding patriarch. It is that piece of paper signifying Rubin Roseboro's ownership of land which makes him memor[i]able. Rubin's father, on the other hand, was the first member of the family to be emancipated, though he remained landless his entire life. As a result, Rubin's father has been deleted from the official family narrative. I think this connection to Rubin's landless father and Assadi is significant.

Like Ulmer, I see an opportunity for interface between these two forgotten Roseboros and believe their ultimate obscurity is connected. I think the [black] family [reunion], if it is to survive as an institution has to move away from the old Y formation of the "family tree" and toward a risomatic structure that can systematically situate these "sporadic" figures like Assadi and Rubin's father as entities that are lasting and consequential in their own right. Annual conventions, will no longer do the work needed to keep large extended families together. Shameful episodes, such as the senseless death of Assadi or the obscuring disenfranchisement of Rubin's father cannot be fully developed, and therefore adequately assigned meaning, through the old mapping structures associated with familial connections. How many times have you looked at a family tree to see boxes filled with the names of those prematurely dead family members who never lived fully enough to reproduce (either through sex or acreage)? Think of how the eye lingers on those stunted branches. What will future generations make of the Bradly McGee box that never branched out?

The vantage point of the screen allows a space for us to make sense of this lingering look. Through the electronic sphere we can construct the worlds that might have been inhabited by Assadi, Bradly, and Rubin Rosboro's father and, as a result, possibly make this one better.