Author: danpint

In and Out of Bed

By Garrett Lockhart and Danica Pinteric

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The exploration of the bed as a socially produced space prompts many questions about the subjectivity of lived experience, dependency, and, representations within a space. How do we experience beds differently? Who is granted access to certain beds? What emotions do certain beds conjure? In and Out of Bed is a standalone collection of photographs that we produce as a response to these questions from our own embodied experiences in the bed that we share. In and Out of Bed is a standalone collection that we envision being exhibited in a physical or online art gallery.

We approached this project with both a primary and secondary methodology. We wanted to capture our experience of the bed from two predominant theoretical frameworks: communicating personal embodied experiences (inspired by Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jason Farman), and exploring how we produce spaces through patterns of social activity (inspired by Henri Lefebvre). 

We posted the entire collection up for viewing now right here.

Blog Post 3: Exploring Online Curation, Moderating, and Reddit.com

Keywords: Moderated vs. Unmoderated, curation, public/private, heterotopia, ideology, Reddit, #thefappening. 

For this post, I’d like to focus on the way various levels of admin presence (moderation/patrolling) impact the representation and reproduction of female bodies online. To do this, I will (briefly) introduce the format of the online platforms I will be discussing, as well as the way I envision them with regard to recurring course/COMS themes.

A while back in my Communication and Visual Culture class, we discussed social media platforms as grounds for independent/public curation. This concept may seem confusing at first, but to put it simply, we imagined online spaces as ‘galleries’ of content, organized by single or multiple bodies, to present various ideas or, themes to broader online communities (we used Pinterest or Tumblr as primary examples of this, but we also acknowledged sources like the Onion and Gawker). In considering online user-based platforms as curated spaces, I would like to explore the ways in which female bodies are/have been represented and reproduced on the popular website reddit.com.

For those of you unfamiliar, Reddit is a large online community-focused website that allows users to upload original and secondary content to organized “subreddits” which usually have a more specific theme (For example /r/aww, /r/interiordesign, /r/cooking). These realms of curated content are usually regulated by “administrators” or “moderators” who are appointment by the site (or sometimes the community i believe) to help police the subreddit for irrelevant or inappropriate content. However, the extent to which these subreddits is highly subjective to each subreddit.

I find that, because these different sects of reddit seem to have regulatory bodies, when they really may not be enforcing any particular set of conduct, creates a heterotopia for members of these communities. Furthermore, I think that this realization of the heterotopia engages users an arena to freely express their opinions on virtually anything under an anonymous guise. Clearly, this can be an amazing tool for online social activism and the larger reddit.com community has been credited for a lot of good-doing online (fundraising and online petitions, etc). But, it goes both ways.

This article recounts the story of one reddit moderator, Violentacrez, who is (in 2012) referred to as “The Biggest Troll on the Web.” In the height of his activity on reddit, this user created and moderated a number of highly misogynistic, racist, and other unsavoury/hateful subreddits. The most popular of which, /r/Jailbait (the rest, I don’t care to mention but you can find a list on the link), encouraged users to post sexualized images of underaged females. Through this type of anonymous curation, we can see the darker side to anonymity on the web. As various cultures emerge online, either for the sake of “trolling” or not, various backwards ideologies (such as /r/jailbait) that aim to objectify or discriminate against various groups can continue to thrive. It is also important to remember that the moderators and regulatory bodies of these sections of the web to not reflect or represent the opinions or voices of the bodies they make spectacle of. In fact, it seems to me that almost* always these sites are made up of communities highly influenced and conditioned by the Western male gaze (*I don’t mean to blame all men of course because that simply wouldn’t be true). Another dangerous sub-sect of this culture which we have discussed in class is revenge porn. It is also worth mentioning that the majority of this ilk of content is circulated and glorified by a relatively small community, but the exposure of the content has the potential to reach the ends of the internet due to the nature of online sharing.

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Another example you might be familiar with from last year is #TheFappening which was an online phenomenon that occurred last year across a number of unmoderated/questionably moderated sections of the net (originally on 4chan, but quickly moved to include reddit, tumblr, and p2p softwares like pirate bay). #TheFappening, in essence, was a hack that uploaded  and circulated a catalogue of nude images of celebrity (primarily female) bodies. Not to say that this type of nude image leak hasn’t happened before, but the large scale and circulation of this specific hack was unprecedented. This exposure of highly private images of bodies across the public spaces of the internet really shook up a number of communities (both on and offline) and raised debates about the private/public sphere online but also raised broader concerns about the online objectification of these women.

On a more positive note, it is not to say that the internet is doomed. A number of positive voices have been heard and shared discussing these issues, too (a number of which have been posted to this very blog). I think the major takeaway from this post is to be aware of how online curation works to interrogate and/or reproduce an vast range of ideologies. Furthermore, an education in the past of this type of discrimination/disrespect can make us a more sympathetic and informed audience- one that may potentially be more inclined to support, share, and even become positive role models and voices online.

 Questions:

1) Curious for your opinions: How do you propose we come to ameliorate this issue? Would it be best to work on prevention, better moderation, or more victim-focused services?

2) How does your understanding of platforms as arenas for curated content impact or relate to your own web-browsing? What other ways do you conceptualize the world wide web?

*update* I also just came across this article. I really, really think this needs to be brought to attention. Any thoughts on this are also welcome.

How to get into TED

http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2012-02-27/how-to-get-into-ted-its-like-applying-to-college-again-and-again

I came across this article recently, and it got me thinking critically about the way TED presents itself as ‘accessible’. Because  TED makes the talks accessible online for free, many people assume that TED as a whole is a transparent and entirely noble company on every front. Here, I was surprised to find out the extensive lengths people must go to in order to be ‘vetted’ by TED and deemed worthy of TED events. The high ticket cost also brings many questions about the nature of spaces- why are these venues chosen to hold the talks? Are they accessible? Clearly they cost a lot- is it necessary to use such expensive spaces to host these events? This article is from a few years ago, so I would also be interested in seeing whether or not anything has changed. Furthermore, I’m wondering about TEDx Events (events in the spirit of TED, but are independently organized and curated, sans essay-format applications and at much lower prices). I was considering attending Montreal’s TEDxMontrealWomen event. Some of the speakers look really interesting, but I’m not sure if I can support TED at all. What do you guys think??

A link to the Montreal event: http://tedxmontrealwomen.com/

ONLINE BODIES

By: Gabie Allain, Evan Smith, Garrett Lockhart, Fiona Schlumberger and Danica Pinteric.

Theresa Senft’s chapter “Keeping it Real on the Web: Authenticity, Celebrity, Branding” offers an introductory exploration of all things camgirl. Senft begins by describing the shutdown of The JenniCam (operated by and starring Jennifer Ringley). The JenniCam (live 1996-2004) was a website centered around digital images captured by a webcam set up in Ringley’s home which were uploaded to the web periodically. Senft recognizes this as the beginnings of online celebrity as a concept, citing the public’s fascination with ‘reality as entertainment’ as a reason for this phenomenon (16).

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       Senft first explores the concept of ‘reality’ in relation to camming. Senft quotes Ringley saying she wanted to “show people that what we see on TV—people with perfect hair, perfect friends, perfect lives—is not reality. I’m reality.”(16). Senft agrees that “homecamming” is in fact quite a candid and unedited practice. However, Senft also critiques Ringley’s statement- reminding readers that Ringley herself was a young, white, “conventionally attractive” (16) woman while The JenniCam was live (16). This critique relates to themes of previous classes: particularly Gill Valentine’s discussion about the reality of who is really represented/excluded in “public” settings.  Ringley presents herself as a “real” girl, but we must consider if this identity was but socially produced through what offline society had deemed real, or, “acceptable.”

Senft also describes the technologies/services required for camgirls to run their websites, demonstrating how quickly costs accumulate. Camgirls running their own websites do not necessarily generate large profits. Senft explains that paid memberships with added features reduce the costs of producing camgirl content (20). Rather, camgirls sell ‘memberships’ to reduce costs and continue running their sites (Senft 20). This relates to our discussions in class about certain public assumptions that female sexworkers (in physical or digital worlds) do not enjoy their work and only do this kind of work for a profit. Towards the midpoint of the chapter, Senft explores LiveJournal as a platform for expressing individuality through a number of techniques including posting academic work, personal photos and ‘screenshot writing’. Senft also introduces the concept of the “Friends List” as a way of attracting attention online.

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In the second half of the text, Senft addresses popularity, the ‘micro-celebrity’, branding, and provides a case study of LonelyGirl15.  She explains that quantifying popularity on the web is difficult to measure, given there are three different ways to do so: either by hits, page views, or unique visitors (Senft 24).  Senft also argues, through personal experience, that media attention can translate into popularity on the web. The term ‘micro-celebrity’ is introduced in the text; Senft uses it to describe an internet celebrity, and how their popularity depends on the connections they make to their audience. She is also quite clear when explaining the importance of self-branding—either you brand, or you die (Senft 26).  Senft uses the concept of post-modern branding to explain how camgirls are able to brand themselves in different ways (see ‘Suicide Girls’) (27-28). At the end of her chapter, Senft introduces readers to a case study of LonelyGirl15, a twenty-something posing as a fifteen year old girl named Bree who made bedroom videos.  The videos were a project that was later supposed to become a Hollywood film.

Also interesting:

A link from an interview with Jennifer Ringley (Letterman)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AmIntaD5VE

“Girl Geeks Discuss Their Place on the Web” is a back and forth dialog between Mara Johnston and Christine Castro, two women who have found voices in feminist discourse through online blogging. Maura is the head of Maura.com, an independent culture publication and Christine the creator of Maganda.org, her blog featuring her personal chronicles. “Girl Geeks Discuss Their Place on the Web” features successive emails between Christine and Maura, in which they discuss the consequences and conflicts they experience through their internet personas.

Christine admits that she was always introverted, far from the “prom queen” she has become online. The internet gave her a new space to voice her opinions and thrive, sometimes too much to her liking. Maura accords, and adds in that she is constantly surprised by her avid viewers. Who are they, where do they come from, and why do they care? Both Christine and Maura’s online voices provide safe spaces for women to define themselves in non conforming ways.

Christine explains that her web audience is predominantly teenage girls and young women, so she feels as though she is a big sister figure for many. Though she embraces this, it is also troubling to her at times because it creates feelings of pressure. She created an incredible outlet for young women to express themselves, but with boundaries. Knowing that she has loyal readers, some of whom could be people who she knows personally, causes her to censor her material. She feels self conscious of the people it is reaching, the feelings she could hurt, secrets she could give up, and so on. Her blog, which is meant to be personal, becomes a place where she can’t disclose real, genuine feelings and truths: “heaven forbid i come across as slutty, bitchy, or whiny.” Maura agrees with this, adding that her work is also dictated by the people who might be viewing it.

“how empowering is it when you censor yourself because you don’t want to give off the wrong impression? how strong a woman am i if i can’t even be honest in my own expression?” In the end of the dialog both women find meaning in their work in that it has spread love and acceptance to many young women. Christine and Maura also acknowledge the significance of their friendship which they established online and allows them to open-up on a personal, non-censored level.

https://web.archive.org/web/20010405132203/http://63.111.42.146/cyf/yf_article.asp?ArticleID=7552

Jillian Mayer & Ana Voog

The work of multimedia artist Jillian Mayer examines the lived experiences of participants of internet and digital culture through their interactions and existences in these respective realms. Mayer’s most recent series, 400 Nudes, is a compilation of 400 nude female selfies (obtained via online sources like girlfriend revenge websites) in which she has re-photographed her own face and applied it to the bodies of each woman, whose ages, races and bodies vary. 400 Nudes aims to deconstruct and examine sexual image consumption and photographic authenticity in our contemporary age.

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Ana Voog broadcasted her home life through 24/7 webcams for 12 years, for a project entitled anacam and is credited as the second of its kind. It deals with issues of “female sexuality and sensuality” in the public/online sphere, as well as examining gender performativity through a feminist lens. Voog received criticism for her openness to share her everyday life, especially for uncensored sexual activity.

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Question 1: In her chapter, Senft explores the realities we create for ourselves via the personal content we produce and share (example: via blogging, homecamming) How much of the content that you display online do you think is a ‘true’ or ‘real’ depiction of your day-to-day self? Do you think that in 2015 we are more candid online than in 2008? Why/why not.


Question 2: How do we strike a balance between honesty and responsibility in our actions online? 

Blog Post 2: Re-Orientation

In reconsidering my chosen space, The Casa Azul in (Coyoacan, Mexico City), I realized that this space offers incredible grounds for interrogation about the nature of orientation and the tensions of ‘public’ and ‘private’ spaces. For this post, I want to use some ideas we discussed in Class 5 to explore Casa Azul and develop a deeper understanding of the ‘public/private’ nature of the space.

When considering Sara Ahmed’s ‘orientation’ in class, we discussed not only how we “find our way” but how we “feel at home”. We also defined the term “homing devices” as “ways of reorienting our relation to our homes, ways of returning home, ways of moving home” (Week 5 slides). The Casa Azul shows a number of very personal objects that I could imagine to have been homing devices to Kahlo and Rivera. The decor in each room of the museum is breathtaking; combining one-of-a-kind furniture pieces in traditional Mexican styles with original art works by Kahlo and Rivera. When I really think about it, objects with this level of intimacy being exposed for money after their deaths feels possibly a bit invasive or insensitive. The two were famous not only for their art but for their passionate and complicated marriage. It is interesting how this is depicted in the museum— objects in the space are catalogued by the current state of affairs in their marriage when they were acquired.

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Above, the grounds of the Casa Azul, with a very professional sign (yeah we get it, it’s a museum). 

I’m very interested in how this space is a public museum that showcases what was a private space. The space, which is by all means a reproduction of what it originally way (it was even renovated in 2009), definitely doesn’t come off as an authentic home. The set-up brings a lot of questions about ownership, privacy and power: Who decides what goes where? What is and what isn’t being shown, and who decides that? Who organizes the ropes that separate the visitors from the objects, designing our paths through the space? Can these items ever truly belong to anyone besides Frida and Diego?

I feel unsure about whether this space is even an authentic way of telling this couple’s story, or their ups and downs. I also am not sure why it is of public interest at all to know the exact details of what transpired between the two artists. In considering Gill Valentine’s description of a public space as something “privately owned, controlled and managed,” that have a number of “private” elements such as relationships and sexualities (263), I find it easy to critique this museum’s ethics. I am tempted to reject the “public” side of the space-  the side that is presented to tourists and other visitors- and prefer to appreciate the space for it’s history as the shelter of two of my favourite artists from a far.

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Above, Frida Kahlo’s personal objects- possible homing devices (photos by me).

Introducing Suzy Lake at the AGO (ends March 22)

Over the reading break I had the pleasure of seeing a number of great exhibitions that are on at the AGO. One show that really stood out was Introducing Suzy Lake– a showcase of some of the work done by a photographer/performance artist Suzy Lake (who has lived and worked here in Montreal).

Much of her work has to do with concepts we discuss in class. Her work interrogates identity, gender using movement and space. You can also find more of her work here. The two works of hers that really stood out were the “Extended Breathing” series and the “Choreographies” installation.

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“Extended Breathing” is a series of images created by Lake that explore long-exposure shots of her standing perfectly still in different spaces (both ‘public’ and ‘private’). The exposures, which last an hour, showcase a still image of Lake while her surroundings reveal an hour’s worth of daily motion. It really seemed like Lake was interrogating Lefebvre’s notion of spatial practice by taking an hour out of her routine motions to capture her stillness.

Another really cool installation that is up right now is “Choreographies”- a scaffolding structure created by Lake that acts like a life sized puppet theatre. In her Montreal studio, Lake had friends of her manipulate her limbs (she extended herself from the ‘theatre’ in a unitard) and recorded the motions her body made. This piece is all about exploring what can occur when you forfeit your own physical agency to others. It really resonated with me as an exploration of deliberate power in spaces. Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 12.17.16 PM

I really recommend seeing it if you find yourself in Toronto in the next few weeks!! All Images belong to Suzy Lake I got them from Suzylake.ca! Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 12.17.26 PM

Concordia University: an Embodied Sensory Experience

Sensory Scrapbook: A (Mis)Guide to the SGW Campus by Cathleen Evans and Danica Pinteric

There is no fixed physical reality, no single perception of the world, just numerous ways of interpreting world views as dictated by one’s nervous system and the specific environment of our planetary existence”

-Deepak Chopra

In our (mis)guide to Concordia University, we attempt to reject and refute these traditional dualistic paradigms—the mind and the body, the map and its user—by curating an embodied sensory experience of our place of study. Inspired by the inventive tactics and theories of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Elizabeth Grosz, and the Situationist International, we have created an interactive “sensory scrapbook” of the Sir George William campus, filled with pages of prompts, considerations, and re-purposed materials urging its user to not only see, but taste, touch, hear, and smell their campus in a different manner.

image1*the appropriation of a generic Concordia binder as a frame for the scrapbook was an intentional act of subtle détournement.*

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Aimed at drawing attention to how each embodied sense affects our perception and understanding of environment, our (mis)guide contains instructions for five different activities, each of which isolates one of the senses as a means for understanding conscious experience of public space (keeping in mind that sensory faculties vary between individuals). Ultimately, our sensory scrapbook urges its users to function under the motto of  “I do, therefore I am”—identifying not simply as bodily vessels moving through a pre-existing campus, but as embodiments of their own school; sensory beings rejecting a set scholarly and structural roadmap and pioneering their own unique state of being.

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We organized the senses by most “external” (vision, hearing) inward to the most personal, and “intimate” senses (smell and taste). The order in which the activities come is as follows:

Sense: Sight

Location: The EV Building

Activity: Navigate the main floor using only the reflections you see in a provided mirror.

Sense: Sound

Location: The McConnell Library Building

Activity: Transcribe an overheard conversation, and use your imagination to continue the dialogue with your group.

Sense: Touch

Location: The John Molson School of Business Building

Activity: Follow instructions to hunt down and catalogue specific textures on the first four floors of the MB.

Sense: Smell

Location: The Hall Building

Activity: Catalogue, Envision, and draw the smells you encounter on 7th floor of the Hall building.

Sense: Taste

Location: Le Frigo Vert

Activity: Create character biographies for different tastes that you encounter at Concordia’s not-for-profit food shop.