In Search of Digital Feminisms
Guest Edited with Katherine Behar for Lateral, the Journal of the Cultural Studies Association.

    Table of Contents

    • “Introduction” by Patricia Ticineto Clough, Theory Thread Editor
    • “Ungoogleable: In Search of Digital Feminisms” by Katherine Behar and Silvia Ruzanka
    • “‘Up for Grabs’: Agency, Praxis, and the Politics of Early Digital Art” by Grant David Taylor
    • “Digital Gender & Aesthetic Technology” by Sol Morén
    • “Bot I” by Praba Pilar
    • “Meditations on the Multiple: On Plural Subjectivity and Gender in Recent New Media Art Practice” by Jillian Hernandez
    • “In Search of a www.analogfeminism.net: Starting with Three Contrarian Concepts via Mother-Daughter Machines to Come” by Kyoo Lee

There’s an app for that shirt! Evaluation of augmented reality tracking methods on deformable surfaces for fashion design (Proceedings Paper)

    In this paper we present appARel, a creative research project at the intersection of augmented reality, fashion, and performance art. appARel is a mobile augmented reality application that transforms otherwise ordinary garments with 3D animations and modifications. With appARel, entire fashion collections can be uploaded in a smartphone application, and “new looks” can be downloaded in a software update. The project will culminate in a performance art fashion show, scheduled for March 2013. appARel includes textile designs incorporating fiducial markers, garment designs that incorporate multiple markers with the human body, and iOS and Android apps that apply different augments, or “looks”, to a garment. We discuss our philosophy for combining computer-generated and physical objects; and share the challenges we encountered in applying fiduciary markers to the 3D curvatures of the human body.

Invisible waves and hidden realms: augmented reality and experimental art (Proceedings Paper)

    Augmented reality is way of both altering the visible and revealing the invisible. It offers new opportunities for artistic exploration through virtual interventions in real space. In this paper, the author describes the implementation of two art installations using different AR technologies, one using optical marker tracking on mobile devices and one integrating stereoscopic projections into the physical environment. The first artwork, De Ondas y Abejas (The Waves and the Bees), is based on the widely publicized (but unproven) hypothesis of a link between cellphone radiation and the phenomenon of bee colony collapse disorder. Using an Android tablet, viewers search out small fiducial markers in the shape of electromagnetic waves hidden throughout the gallery, which reveal swarms of bees scattered on the floor. The piece also creates a generative soundscape based on electromagnetic fields. The second artwork, Urban Fauna, is a series of animations in which features of the urban landscape become plants and animals. Surveillance cameras become flocks of birds while miniature cellphone towers, lampposts, and telephone poles grow like small seedlings in time-lapse animation. The animations are presented as small stereoscopic projections, integrated into the physical space of the gallery. These two pieces explore the relationship between nature and technology through the visualization of invisible forces and hidden alternate realities.

Feminism And New Media Art: Hot or Not? (Proceedings Paper)

    This paper summarizes an open dialogue held at the 2011 New Media Caucus Symposium. Co-chairs Silvia Ruzanka and Katherine Behar invited participants Terry Berkowitz, Jillian Hernandez, Diane Ludin, Prema Murthy, Stephanie Rothenberg, and Kathleen Ruiz, to join in an open, moderated discussion of the role of feminism in recent new media art. Framed as an open dialogue rather than a panel, the content of the event was shaped equally by the chairs, invited participants, and by contributions from members of the audience.

Avatar Impotence: On ‘User Will,’ ‘Avatar Agency,’ and ‘System Control’ in Second Life (Proceedings Paper)

    Virtual worlds often contain an underlying philosophy of idealism. This idealism can take many forms, from the construction of new self-identities to the creation of utopian societies. At its extreme, idealism fuels a drive to transcend the limitations of physical reality and the physical body by finding a new home in virtual environments. We contend, however, that the further evolution of virtual worlds requires a move beyond idealism and into a more complex and nuanced relationship between user, avatar, and environment. In this paper we present a theoretical framework for understanding the operation of idealism in virtual worlds through a potency complex centered on the avatar as the link between the human user and the virtual environment. We introduce the concept of the unintentional at the center of the issue of potency, and describe an art project in Second Life that re-introduces different forms of unintentionality to create an alternative to idealism.

Ambient clumsiness in virtual environments (Proceedings Paper)

    A fundamental pursuit of Virtual Reality is the experience of a seamless connection between the user’s body and actions within the simulation. Virtual worlds often mediate the relationship between the physical and virtual body through creating an idealized representation of the self in an idealized space. This paper argues that the very ubiquity of the medium of virtual environments, such as the massively popular Second Life, has now made them mundane, and that idealized representations are no longer appropriate. In our artwork we introduce the attribute of clumsiness to Second Life by creating and distributing scripts that cause users’ avatars to exhibit unpredictable stumbling, tripping, and momentary poor coordination, thus subtly and unexpectedly intervening with, rather than amplifying, a user’s intent. These behaviors are publicly distributed, and manifest only occasionally – rather than intentional, conscious actions, they are involuntary and ambient. We suggest that the physical human body is itself an imperfect interface, and that the continued blurring of distinctions between the physical body and virtual representations calls for the introduction of these mundane, clumsy elements.

Dots and dashes: art, virtual reality, and the telegraph (Proceedings Paper)

    Dots and Dashes is a virtual reality artwork that explores online romance over the telegraph, based on Ella Cheever Thayer’s novel Wired Love – a Romance in Dots and Dashes (an Old Story Told in a New Way)1.
    The uncanny similarities between this story and the world of today’s virtual environments provides the springboard for an exploration of a wealth of anxieties and dreams, including the construction of identities in an electronically mediated environment, the shifting boundaries between the natural and machine worlds, and the spiritual dimensions of science and technology. In this paper we examine the parallels between the telegraph networks and our current conceptions of cyberspace, as well as unique social and cultural impacts specific to the telegraph. These include the new opportunities and roles available to women in the telegraph industry and the connection between the telegraph and the Spiritualist movement. We discuss the development of the artwork, its structure and aesthetics, and the technical development of the work.