e s e a r c h + d e v e l o p m e n t a r e a s:
* feminist revisionist history of technology: plant, et. al.
* women as communicators, cultural connective tissue, gossip
* cultural analysis of technology: kittler, ronell et. al.
* cultural, feminist analysis of history of witches
* telepathy + e.s.p."channel" (stories)
* electric animal (sleeping + speaking)
* shindogu-like models for future + past technologies
* witch e-bay: witch "crafts"
* witches in popular culture
* spells/futures (also includes songs and top-40 lists)
* speller (like word tool, but with critical/narrative thrills)
* weather forecasting
* ephemeral architectures, public + private emancipation:
rearranging the "furniture" in a meaningful way
* narrative density, loops and networks: lydia davis,
clarice lispector, gertrude stein et. al.
* the alleged morphing user interface
* storage, generation loss, memory
b e g i n n i n g l i s t o f r e s o u r c e l i n k s:
http://TextArc.org/ (A Word Map for Wonderland)
Kitchen/Witch is a proposed web project linking narratives of architecture, technology and gender. The project will examine politics and tropes of telecommunication throughout Western history, presenting fictional/critical images and texts from a feminist perspective. I am currently a team member of the New Media Studio Lab (a recently funded CFI project) at the University of Regina and will be developing aspects of the pre-production there.
The central narrative for Kitchen/Witch is a constellation of stories about three generations of women in my family. The stories deal with forms of communication and kinds of space that hold us together as a family. One of the stories is about communication, space and work: my maternal grandmother, my mother and myself were all, at one time, telephone operators. My grandmother and my mother ran the switchboard in a small prairie town in the 1950's. The switchboard was in their own home: they were agents, relatively empowered by their work. In contrast, I worked in a large, assembly-line type office in the 1980's, tied to a computer workstation, answering 600 - 700 calls a day. The structure and space of this work allowed me little freedom or agency. Another of the stories is about communication, space and creativity: my grandmother, my mother and I spent hours together in the kitchen cooking, making textile works such as quilts and braided rugs, exchanging stories and scheming up plans. Though the kitchen was relatively small, the structure and space of this collective work allowed us sustaining creative and spiritual freedom and agency.
There are two paths of research which inform and intersect with the central narrative for Kitchen/Witch. These function as critical paths off which additional narratives will branch. The first is an investigation of architectural space and the ontological and phenomenological shifts that occur when one moves from a public to a private space, or a real to a virtual space. I wish to embody these theoretical issues in the development of a narrative and aesthetics for Kitchen/Witch. I wish to present a network of richly engaging web page structures which also offers critical perspectives on how we construct and inhabit space - both virtual and architectural. The politics I wish to address involve the relative freedoms women have in domestic, virtual and public spaces and the influence of communications technologies within and across these spaces. My aesthetic approach involves developing visual tropes of boundary dissolution - imaging the spaces that exist between walls, and the breaking down of confining structures, both material and ideological. My poetics of space features depicting the ramifications of such seemingly impossible acts as walking through walls. An example of an approach that informs my aesthetic in it's play with narrative and architectural space is Darcey Steinke's blindspot at adaweb. In this work, images of domestic space are revealed as one moves through the hyper narrative.
The second path of investigation involves a feminist critique or re-evaluation of the histories, metaphors and uses of telecommunication technologies. I will be looking at how technologies materially (in terms of labour and economics) interface with the lives of women. My intention is to create a fictional/critical history of technology - not unlike curator Steve Dietz's open source project Telematics Timeline at the Walker Art Centre - but from a feminist perspective. My definition of technology encompasses the concept of technique: technology is a process or ideology as much as it is a product or object (see Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society, 1964). Thus my version of technological history would include the development of the telephone and the internet, as well as other technologies developed by women such as knitting. I will give special attention to the inclusion of the development of "mythical" technologies of communication: the emancipating practices of aerial speech and flight practised by "witches" in Western history. My intention here is to play with exclusions in Western histories of technology, rather than present an essentialist gender rhetoric. These two paths of investigation - architecture and technology - will intersect and link hypertextually and associatively with the narratives about the women in my family. In terms of the writing, the visuals and the linking patterns, the work will be informed by a poetics of appearance and disappearance, emergence and dissolution - playing off the issues of visibility and invisibility so central to women's experience. I will be deliberately choosing an aesthetic of low-resolution image fragments and bit mapped graphics to emphasize both the ephemerality of human phenomenology and of the internet. The overall aesthetic approach is heavily informed by French feminism's call to agency through fluidity, boundary dissolution and writing through the body.
Links to Previous Work
In my previous media art work (primarily single-channel videos and video installations) I have been investigating methods of structuring narratives which portray the phenomenology and dailiness of women's experience. I am interested in playing with methods of deconstruction: I want to "show the seams" of my production, integrating my process of creating into the actual finished work.
My single channel tape Valkyrie Theory, for example, presents my process of making a video about my search for my Norwegian ancestors. My video installation, Familiar, presents the "out-takes" from the process of making a nature documentary about my domestic house cat. My intention with these works is to critically delineate problems in representation: how objectivity and subjectivity play off each other to create truths. In the process of making this critique, it is also my intention to present engaging, humorous, visually compelling narratives. I feel that these previous investigations would lend themselves well to the development of Kitchen/Witch - a work whose focus is recounting and imagining connections between women, communication and new (and old) technologies. Though my works manifest themselves in a range of formats, my process always begins with writing. My finished works are structured around and held together by printed text and the spoken word.