Author: maddyfenton

Making Lines: a zine about blockage, flow and division of space

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the photos on these pages were taken by me at Laos and Henri Julien. This is near the area of railway tracks I explored for this project.

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I didn’t have these ready in time for our last class, but if anyone wants a copy mailed to them send me a message!
maddyfenton@gmail.com

Posted by Maddy Fenton

Blog Post 3: Containment and Self-surveillance

Given the Rupi Kaur example, I wanted to begin this post by looking at menstruation, and how the way it is coded in culture works to perpetuate a hierarchy of bodies. In our discussions of somatophobia and cartesianism in class, we explored the way the mind body split carries with it gendered connotations where the (rational/ordered) mind is masculine and the (irrational/chaotic) body is feminine. Shauna M. Macdonald writes of the way Immanuel Kant constructs the masculine ideal of the ‘closed’ body, and thus negatively positions the outward flow of bodily fluids as feminine and because of it’s threat to a rational, closed order are in need of being contained and controlled. (345). Macdonald then goes on to propose that menstrual leaks are powerful as a mode of resisting the masculine ordering of bodies and space. I find the concept of flow and it’s equation with femininity interesting, especially in relation to online spaces, because the internet requires us to enact a form of irrational, chaotic flow in order to participate in it and navigate it. However despite this, online spaces still remain hostile towards ‘leaky bodies’.
Just as public order laws are not explicit in singling out sexual minorities (Valentine, 266), the Instagram terms of use do not explicitly reveal the ways restrictions are designed for images of non-normative bodies. The language is purposefully vague, and so the apparatus of Instagram relies on the repetitive performances of users to define and perpetuate “a host of assumptions about what constitutes ‘proper’ behaviour/dress in everyday spaces” which congeal over time to produce the appearance of ‘proper’ space.” (Valentine 265) In this way, and also through self-surveillance and co-surveillance, the space of Instagram is co-produced by the corporate body that designed and maintains it, and the individual users of the site – or, representations of space and spatial practices.
In an article on censorship and women’s bodies, Karley Sciortino recently wrote, ““Instagram have appointed themselves the body police…social media sites are sending a clear message: women’s bodies exist solely to be sexually stimulating, and if they are not serving that purpose then they should be removed from sight.” Women are expected to perform very limited and narrow ideas of gender and sexuality, with an emphasis on containment and passivity in order to maintain the masculine ordering of space. However because of the proliferation of self portraits, selfies, and practices of self-representation on Instagram, there is a simultaneous contestation of these regulatory practices taking place and it is working to create differential spaces on Instagram. There have been some amazing examples already posted on the blog, and I’d like to add to that by attaching this image Miranda July posted a few days ago. While it is not apart of a formal body of work on Instagram, I thought the post was relevant due to the way the practice of self-surveillance is subtly interrogated. July captured and posted a few photos while her vision was blurred at the opthamologists. I think that posting photos to Instagram without viewing them first would be an interesting project to take further in order to answer the question of whether it takes away the agency in self-representation or if it would be liberating to bypass the process of surveilling oneself, and to what extent that is even possible.

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 9.58.14 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 9.58.25 PMBy Maddy Fenton

References:
MacDonald, Shauna M. “Leaky Performances: The Transformative Potential Of Menstrual Leaks.” Women’s Studies In Communication 30.3 (2007): 340-357. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.

Sciortino, Karley. “Art, Periods and Censorship on Social Media.” Slutever, http://slutever.com/censorship-on-social-media/

Valentine, Gil. (2005). “(Re)Negotiating the Heterosexual Street: Lesbian Production of Space.” InThe Urban Geography Reader. (263-269). London: Routledge.

Blog Post 2: Re-orientation Excercize

For this exercise, I began by trying to pinpoint the exact location within the space of the movie theatre that corresponded to when I felt the most comfortable or ‘at home’. I realized it’s not when I’m seated within the auditorium watching a film, but rather the moment and place of descending the long flight of stairs as I make my way through the entrance of this space. As I go down the steps, in the act of reaching toward this object of passive leisure, my body “trails behind” me. It does this because my body is one that inhabits positions and orientations that make my visit to this place natural and unnoticeable.
For instance, I live in close physical proximity to Cinema du Parc, and while this convenience is a reason I frequent the place, it is not born out of randomness and bears implications. This proximity indicates that I live in one of the uptown urban neighborhoods that are in walking distance from the theatre (Plateau/McGill Ghetto/Mile End) which as a result of general gentrification are not accessible to all bodies. Another proximity stems from my participation in higher education, and because Cinema du Parc is a borderline art-house theatre, the mark of artistic/academic bodies in shaping the institution itself opens up as a point of inclusion for me. Higher education and box-office cinema are both institutions that are shaped by white bodies habitually passing through them, and this is also a reason why my act of entry into this space may go unconscious and unobserved because mine is a body that inhabits whiteness. My body may be background to my action as I walk into the theatre, but once I am in and participating in the space, I find that this does not always stay the same.

view of off-limits space from stairs

view of off-limits space from stairs

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Continuing with Sarah Ahmed, the movie theatre is a “space of social interaction that reveal the orientations of specific bodies”. After a film has finished and everyone begins to leave, some people will linger in the lobby, forming little groups to share opinions and experiences of the film. As a phenomenological experiment, I try to focus just on just the sounds in the lobby. I notice that the sound of men’s voices are often more frequent and audible in the noises of these gatherings. I am reminded of the all-ages punk shows I went to in my youth, of standing outside in circles like these discussing the music with my friends. The bands were predominantly boys or men, despite a growing level of diversity within the community. I am acutely aware of my voice when I speak and the way my tongue shapes the beginnings of words I may or may not let pass. In these cases I am made aware of my body because the space I am in is formed by the habitual actions (eg. speech/making noise) of bodies unlike mine. Although formal exclusion isn’t taking place, there is still a feeling of negation that is informed by how my senses perceive which bodies act habitually, in the background, to produce and re-produce a space.

In order to create a differential space out of this movie theatre, a disruption of the spatial practices that make it a designated point of leisure would have to occur. I though perhaps of staging a week long slumber party inside the auditoriums where people could collaborate on interactive artistic projects which could then be displayed or performed at any point in the day. This would blur the lines between work, leisure, and rest and also perhaps create new categories for ways to spend time.

References:

Ahmed, Sara. “A Phenomenology of Whiteness.” Feminist Theory. Vol. 8, No. 2 (2007). 149-168.

Lefebvre, Henri. “The Production of Space.” The People, Place, and Space Reader. Ed. Jen Gieseking and William Mangold. London: Routledge, 2014. 289-293.

Blog Post 1

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Hi My name is Maddy and I’m in my second year of communication studies (in video production) at Concordia. I consider Calgary to be my hometown, but I’ve also lived and grown up in Duncan, BC and Kobe, Japan. I’m very interested in storytelling in all of its forms.
What do you spend most of your time doing?
When I’m not at work or studying I like to watch movies. The films in Gregg Araki’s ‘Teen Apocalypse Trilogy’ are my recent favourites. I’d like to start creating more of my own film and video projects outside of school.
What is your goal for the class?
My goal for this class is to improve the way I read and engage with theoretical material, and to generally just work on becoming a more active learner. I am curious to discover which societal concepts of bodies and spaces have become naturalized in my everyday thinking.
What is one of your favorite spaces? Describe it. Why? How do you use your body to be in that space? What bodies are excluded from that space? Interrogate any of your immediate characteristics of that space (peaceful, belongs to me, historic, etc). Include a link/image/video/etc.
As I mentioned in class, one of my favourite spaces is the movie theatre, Cinema Du Parc. One has to go down three flights of stairs to get to the ticket counter, and then down another flight to get to the two screens and the concession. This is a very different layout from the gigantic cineplexes in the suburbs which I am used to. Theatres that hold at least 20 auditoriums and are built from the pavement upwards in vast parking lots. At Cinema Du Parc, there’s a feeling of entering a wormhole where everyone ends up on the same level, and the pending prospect of having to eventually physically ‘resurface’ again makes this window of time spent in leisure feel more special. While I’m watching a film, my body remains in one place, but I shift occasionally in my seat. For me the seats are fairly comfortable, but I know that this is not the case for everyone, and I am privileged to be able to handle staying for longer periods of time within this standardized set up. The space also would not be accessible to bodies that are granted little leisure time whether it be from paid or unpaid labour or the combination of both.
cdp cdp2
What are the five things faculty do that make learning hard? & what are the five things faculty do that make it easy to learn?
H:
– Lengthy, heavily weighted writing assignments = too much pressure, can’t deal
– I would prefer to be obligated to deliver instalments of a final paper throughout the term. An option for procrastinators.
– When a prof doesn’t seem passionate about their own subject matter.
– When there isn’t enough time spent on discussing/explaining the readings.
E:
-When different examples such as images/videos/quotes/sounds are used in a lecture.
– When a prof is excited about what they are teaching
– Online resources/posted lecture notes
Constructive feedback

Looking forward to a great semester!
=)