Describing Superscript’s developments, artist William Powhida put it succinctly:
To give a little more context: during the second day’s session “Connectivity and Community,” the conversation moved away from the previous day’s forms of criticism as such, and toward criticism in a digital age. That age is mediated by largely historical—sometimes colonial—structures of power, surveillance, economics, marginalization and its counterpart, co-option. The faux-academic in me wants to understand a bit more using hand gestures, so let’s do it the way we do best: by unpacking.
1. Why was it SO cold in the Walker Cinema?
Nothing to unpack, should’ve packed more.
2. Can we life-hack in some way beyond Pinterest/tech bros?
‘Disruption,’ a rather aggressive act, is accepted as desirable, necessary, and a sign of progress. By extension, the rise of Silicon Valley brings ‘hacking’ to everything; nothing is inherently unsolvable, you just have to change your mindset and introduce the right technology. But what kind of hacking really matters? Making bananas ripen quicker by putting them in a plastic bag with an apple is sort of useful, but what about lives that need more than hacking in the (well-stocked) kitchen? How does a trans person navigate a hostile, reductive, largely heterosexual (excluding porn) digital space, for example? Where are their start-ups with cutesy ads in the New York subway?
3. Private vs. public
This binary was brought up in terms of social media and other communication platforms (Skype, Google Hangout, but also, I might add, Tinder, Grindr, etc.) that break boundaries between an intimate inner life and a public-facing persona. To me, the idea is especially relevant for the queer community (many of whom are also people of color) who live with that precarious balance, and who must negotiate fear, confidence, defiance, denial, reluctance, and self-hatred every day. How do these ambivalences migrate to web platforms? And how does my sexual identity or relationship status on Facebook affect my employment, right to citizenship, uninhibited travel, and my authority to have an opinion (or, in other words, be a critic)?
4. Marginalization vs. normalization
Social media is not a public, democratic space, but a parading of our free labor, a forum for peep shows. And within that media, normalization isn’t mere access to a platform, but being liked, accepted within that structure. Is a lifestyle legitimate when enough people care about it? And if this is normalization, then what and where is the marginal space on the Internet? An abandoned website, a measly number of likes, antiquated design, complete or partial censorship?
Remind me why we love to unpack? It just makes a mess. I’m left with more questions than when I began.
The Superscript Blog Mentorship program, a partnership with Hyperallergic, is presented as part of