Author: annamedvetskaya

Cemetery as an arhive of human identity

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The practices online in relation to death and the archiving of a deceased person’s digital identity is mirrored in the practices that date before the invention of the internet and before the conception of the term cyberspace coined by fiction writer William Gibson in 1982 (Badulescu, 2011). In light of this fact, we conclude that it is not reasonable to see the two spaces as separate; cemeteries and cyberspace not only both represent heterotopias but also lead to near identical behaviour in relation to the mourning of the dead. More importantly than that, the point that we have insisted on is that they both serve as archives that have recorded lived experiences in varying ways, but that both wind up containing an immense amount of data the deceased. The tombstone, size of plot, location and items left by visitors are similar to the online presence that an identify possesses. If an identity is being lived out through one or several accounts after the passing away of an individual, then the amount of friends, posts to wall and the creation of a memorial page is the equivalent of all that is found on a tomb. The main difference between the online space and the cemetery is the physical versus digital aspect; meaning that the physical may reveal less at first sight than the digital. In addition to this, digital conservation of identity and data after death has come makes it so that the archives are more widely accessible and can be accessed an infinite amount of times. This is a phenomenon that is not witnessed in a cemetery which has closing hours, regulations and private plots and tombs. An issue that is brought up in relation to the creation and preservation of online identity is the authenticity of the information that the individual chose to reveal: what is the real self, what is more authentic? The marks on the body, the embodied, neurological, biological experience; or the online accounts, the selected photos and tidbits, the mini autobiographies, reposts, etc.? This is near impossible to answer, almost as hard as it is to say what happens after death – all that we can be sure of is that it all definitely relates to the individuals identity, seeing as what they choose to post or not says a lot about them same as our actions and words in the physical world say a lot about us.

References

Badulescu, D. (n.d). Heterotopia, Liminality, Cyberspace as Marks of Contemporary Spatiality. Retrieved from: http://www.theroundtable.ro/Current/Cultural/Dana.Badulescu_Heterotopia,Liminality,Cyberspaceas_Marks_of_Contemporary_Spatiality.pdf

By Danika and Anna

Ray Ceasar’s cyborgs

As part of cyborgs discussion I found Ray Ceasar, a Toronto-based artist to be a fascinating example of hyperstition. Not only he invented his own origins claiming he was born a dog, but the whole world inhabited with bizarre creatures, cyborgs in fact. Notably, he got much of his inspiration from working in the children’s hospital in Toronto as a medical artist where he was capturing all medical procedures conducted on children and the results of those procedures. I think his works could be interpreted in Haraway’s way as illustrations of human fusion with biology and technology that results not only in distortion of the body but also in fractionation of identity (Ceasar himself had been diagnosed with disassociative identity disorder which he calls “a bliss”).

Exodus Study (2005), 12 x 12 inches, EDITION OF 20, Giclee Print on Entrada Paper

Exodus Study (2005), 12 x 12 inches, EDITION OF 20, Giclee Print on Entrada Paper

Blog post 3

Though the ‘mind-body’ opposition seems to be less categoric today than it was in the times of Descartes, I have an impression that it still exist and is much more influential than it could be assumed. In a discussion about spaces and places and bodies within them one’s senses should be considered with a question what senses are meant exactly and what is meant by “senses”. If it is much discussed experiences of those practicing derive including their bodily, physical response such as hunger, thirst, need for sleep or fatigue (Debord, p.66) it becomes understandable how these physical reactions could affect intellectual interpretations of place exploration. But if we consider a cyber space, an internet platform to be a place for derive and agree with Farman that the dichotomy between real/virtual is not true (Farman, 2012, p.22) then would not it be just another upgraded version of denial of human physicality?

Although some activities and/or interactions online may cause emotional reactions these reaction are always stipulated by reasoning. One can start crying after reading or even hearing/seeing particular information online, but it is quite impossible to start crying online because of that feeling of care and safety that the warmth of one’s embrace can give. Nor is it possible to feel the silk of one’s hair between fingers or smell a scent that instantaneously gets into particular moment and place. It seems that many of those who are accustomed to Internet did not close the gap between body and mind not one jot or little. With the same self-congratulatory confidence that served Western civilization faithfully and loyally since Plato, The Man of Reason as Genevieve Lloyd calls him (Lloyd, 1984) may approach Internet as an extension of physical place without thinking twice about its purely mathematical (and thus fitting into categories of the reason) nature. By doing so he leaves no space for body (as an excessively feminine category) to be included online fully with the whole palette of its sensations and irrationality. The body is predisposed for fragmentation, reconfiguration, reassembling – the reality welcomed by cyberfeminists with Linda Dement being a good example. In her work In My Gash (1999) she tries to take her viewers “into the flesh of a depressed and dangerous girl, drug fucked and damaged”; an experience that to my mind still differs from bodily experience of that girl. In her Cyberflesh Girlmonster (1995) she combines scanned images of women-volunteers into monstrous assemblages to explore femininity and violence. Ironically, with such fragmentation the drama of abused women becomes bearable if not entertaining for the viewer: it’s not as shocking to see pictures like this as it would be to see a dissected body in one’s backyard; perhaps because there is no smell of blood, or urine, or sperm – or anything else, too physical to find its place online.

Linda Dement, In My Gash, 1999

Linda Dement, In My Gash, 1999

So how spaces and bodies are constructed online? To my mind, in a desperate attempt to stretch the physical reality further its physical limits, to move it beyond the screens as an improved version, to codify it in 1s and 0s. However ambitious this attempt would be it is destined to obey the same laws that define the physical reality with the only difference in the absence of context. Perhaps, Rupi Kaur’s photo with blood on pants caused such a response on Instagram’s part because it lacks that multidimensionality of physical reality and at the same time is too straightforward for some viewers to digest it. They may interpret it as defiant simply because they may never came across any girl brave enough to intentionally expose her menstrual blood in her workplace or study place, or leisure place, in brief anywhere we consider to be a public space. Yet, it is possible to imagine such situation as an accident, no matter how that imagined girl would feel – proud, embarrassed, or just calm and confident in her right for any physical manifestation of her existence. It is even possible to imagine some extent of empathy and humor on the part of witnesses if we still believe in humans’ ability of empathy. If it is a question of changing attitudes toward display of women’s secretions online, then the power of physical context that online space lacks should not be underestimated.

Without that context Internet becomes a sterilized copy of the physical world with the same financial and political interests defining its politics that govern the physical world. As Farman himself explains co-creation of embodiment and space, “embodiment is always site-specific to the particular cultures, histories, and relationships that serve as catalysts to such production” (p.19). It would be astonishing indeed if any mainstream social platform (as Instagram or Facebook) had claimed to be an anarchist underground or a non-judgmental staunchest ally of menstruating women. My assumption that their politics are mere reflections of the order of things in a physical world does not justify their actions at all. However, the physical world presumably has more chances to challenge its attitudes because of its spontaneity, diversity, and irrationality. Online space appears as much more rigid due to its structure and rationality. My questions here are: how can we bring in more bodily humanism online and is it possible at all. Or do online and physical spaces have necessarily to sacrifice their distinctive features in order to blend each other and irrecoverably erase differences between organism and mechanism.

Debord, Guy. “Theory of the Dérive and Definitions.” In Gieseking, Jen J. And William Mangold, (Eds.), The People, Place, and Space Reader. (65-69). London: Routledge.

Farman, Jason. (2012). Mobile Interface Theory Ch. 1 “Embodiment and the Mobile Interface” (16-34) London: Routledge.

Lloyd, Genevieve. (1984). “The Man of Reason: “Male” and “Female” in Western Philosophy”. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Anne-Mette’ and Noémie, my notes on your mis-guide

I am sorry for delay, here are my notes I made while exploring the campus with your guide. Thank you for such a great experience!notes

Blog Post 2: Re-orientation Exercise

Perhaps, to analyze the history of kitchen as a concept would be a cumbersome task, so I would bind myself to the history of this particular kitchen. But again as soon as I try to describe it I realize that its history is relevant only to my personal experience, I can say nothing about this place before I experience it. Though I can describe its objective features (as its measurements – the height of the ceiling, the area-size), this would say little about what do I mean when describing my kitchen. However, these objective details influence my conceptual understanding of it. For instance, the absence of windowsills. All my previous apartments had them – and quite spacious – to grow herbs on them or even sit and read the book. In my perception, this absence makes my kitchen incomplete if not defective. I am thinking of why it has been built without such an obvious interior detail. Even if the reasons were only pragmatic – to save the space and money – the outcomes might be much more significant. Growing plants on the windowsills is not a mere hobby; it is also a political act to some extent. For example, Belasco in his analysis of impact which relationships with food had made on the counterculture of California in the 60-s, points that “even for those not expecting The End, environmentalism was emerging as the left’s primary vehicle for outrage and hope, edging aside civil rights, the antiwar movement, and revolutionary socialism” (23). He argues that this type of opposition attracted thousands of people as it did not ask for any sacrifice: everybody could contribute to the global change by merely growing lettuce in an outdoor garden or… right, on a kitchen windowsill. No windowsills – no revolutionary ideas of self-sustainability. It is interesting that at the same time its built-in furniture includes a slot for a microwave oven. This slot had already existed when I moved in. In fact, it was constructed intentionally by someone who had no idea whether future tenants would ever have microwaves. But it was presupposed that these future tenants would rather rewarm their food than grow it. I see this slot as a reinforcement of canned plastic way of life where little is produced but too much is over-consumed. By the way, I put my printer in it.

Another notable feature of my kitchen is the big black table, which serves as a borderline between two sections. These sections are too not so much physical as figurative. One space could be described as “cooking”, or “traditional” and another – as “working”, or “creative”. From the latter perspective I can see the church across the street, in the meantime my sight crosses the “cooking” part with a cupboard, a stove, which stands for Thanksgiving turkey and pies obviously, and a dining table – and all these – the Church, the Dinner, the Fireplace – aren’t they a quintessence of “traditional” values?

But if I sit near the window and look in the opposite direction – I can see something that can be barely detected as a kitchen – this is the space for creative process, my table immediately appears to be a working table, not dining table. And I can see our drawings, drum station, books etc. Depending on where I sit or stand I get completely different image of what my kitchen is with the table as a frontier. Depending on where I sit or stand I also embody different identities, which in their turn can transit from one part into another. By crossing the border between “working” space and “cooking” space I can bring with and within myself the essence of corresponding space and infuse it in another. It was definitely the transition of those identities when I first wrote a paper about kombucha for one of my classes, then started my final project on kombucha, and finally brought it all into “traditional” part to brew a real one.

Belasco, W.J. (1993). Appetite for change. How the counterculture took on the food industry. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

kitchen

Blog Post 1: About Me

DSC__x My name is Anna, I am originally from Kazakhstan, and the first thing I must say is no, Borat lied. It’s been 2 years now since I came to Montreal with my son. Before that I had worked as an editor and freelance writer, which was very interesting and enriching in many senses (yes, editors usually get lots of free stuff, as, say, Fergie’s concert in London or a bottle of Glenmorangie for Christmas:)).

Now I spend most of the time studying, raising my kid, and enjoying life. As for my goal for this class – I would like to acquire a deeper understanding of what does space mean, how do we create spaces, how do they affect us, what may spaces tell us about ourselves, and how can they be used as means of communication.

I have a lot of favorite spaces ranging from Tennessee beach in San Francisco Bay Area to Vanier library, but the most important one among them is my own kitchen, no matter where I live. I love spacious kitchens with large windows, where everything is on its place. It reminds me an alchemic laboratory where something can be created almost out of nothing. That feeling I had brewing my own kombucha for example. So, it’s a place of indefinite creativity. Perhaps, that is why this is a place where I prefer to write all my papers. It’s also very functional: if I need a break and want to make a cup of coffee -everything is at my fingertips. It is a perfect place for communication as well. My friends and I have discussed thousands of issues in my kitchen, and if only anyone have gone to the trouble of transcribing them that would be another War and Peace. I don’t know exactly why it so, maybe, the kitchen is just cozy and warm. Or, maybe, there are some other reasons at the bottom, and we get together around a fireplace just as our ancestors did in their caves, enjoying food and something much more valuable – a company of each other.DSC_5293

Five things faculty do that makes learning hard:

  • When instructions for assignments are too vague
  • When assignments are split into unreasonable amount of outlines, drafts, final drafts etc., each of which should be handed in
  • When students can’t get back their papers
  • When readings relevance to the topic is not clear
  • When readings just parallel lectures and are not discussed or used in class

Five things faculty do that make it easy to learn:

  • When any alternatives to costly textbooks are offered
  • When professors are passionate about their subjects
  • When assignment are creative
  • When students enjoy a reasonable freedom in choosing topics for assignments
  • When the whole process is not excessively formalized