Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
Listening against the grain: in conversation with Kamila Metwaly
Tuesday, May 24, 2022 | Alifiyah Imani
Curator, researcher and writer Kamila Metwaly’s dedicated long engagement with Egyptian born composer and musicologist Halim El-Dabh (1921-2017) has involved digging through university archives and libraries, connecting with his friends and family, and collaborating with a transnational group, who has followed El-Dabh’s work closely. Originally from Cairo, Metwaly moved to Berlin in 2017. She encountered El-Dabh’s work, Ta'abir Al-Zaar—one of the earliest known electronically composed works—purely through a chance encounter, and connected with him shortly before his death.
Shapeshifter(s): Pigeon People
Thursday, May 19, 2022 | Khairullah Rahim
The best time to catch pigeons in action is when the sun is up. Like us, these diurnal birds carry out most of their essential activities under the sun. When it sets, they retreat back to their warm and hidden shelters. Pigeons are also very hardy and are known to be unfastidious when selecting their homes; almost any spot that provides them with some kind of temporary cover, such as roofs, trees, and building ledges, will suffice. I used to always find excuses whenever friends asked to come over to my place after school. After I turned 18, I gradually stopped turning up at family gatherings. Even after five years of being in a committed relationship with my then-partner, I would quietly sneak into his bedroom by climbing through the window from the corridor whenever we had a sleepover. I wished everyone would have stopped asking why our families weren’t more hospitable to us. If only we were not so poor. Visibility and light are commonly associated with safety for the majority who fit in, but certain lights illuminate more intensely on some than others. For people like me (queer, brown, and poor), exposure comes with a fair share of risk and a lingering sense of shame. It was often the gentle shade and not the glaring light that offered me security when I needed it, especially in environments presumed to be safe, like around my family.
Creation Story
Tuesday, May 17, 2022 | Omi Rodney
Oreka James’ Untitled 1 sculpture features fabric stretched over plywood fastened to a brushed aluminum anchor. The sculpture bursts out of star-shaped soil to come to a star-shaped point. The structure spins continuously, flashing between two abstract paintings that evoke the beginning of life. As the pulsing sound of the motor mimics the relentless tide of the ocean and fills the room, I am moved to a beginning when our life was first dreamed up and summoned out of primordial sea. I see the sun as it shines down and pulls earth up from out of the abyss and strikes it to make black Earth. Breaks the earth apart to give way to new life. As the evocative midnight purples meet life-bearing reds that then spill past James’ sky to meet earth, green life pulls through to give way to us. Before me, time and space break apart and I see that we were many things.
Making of a monument: in conversation with Hannah Somers
Tuesday, May 10, 2022 | Nawang Tsomo
The last couple of years has seen an immense surge in the toppling of monuments of white European colonizers across the Americas. The monumentality of these long overdue take-downs is also met with mixed feelings, even for the communities who have experienced and continue to live with the atrocities of centuries of “new world building.” It goes without saying that the repair, the re-building, the re-imagination of world orders does not happen overnight. I am reminded of the many who go on living, resisting colonial figures well outside of their bronze bodies and into the aftermath of their fall. Much of the conversation in mainstream media focuses on the taking apart and breaking down—the theatricality—of colonial structures. What remains and what persists after the fact is seldom addressed.
Gestures of absolute helplessness
Monday, April 25, 2022 | Chigbo Arthur Anyaduba
Noo was a fashion blogger until June 2020. Then she wrote a piece on the removal of the infamous statue of English enslaver Edward Colston by Black Lives Matter protesters in England. Someone popular shared her blog piece on Twitter.  The viral blog post was her reaction to the language the media used in describing protesters’ removal of the statue. “They use words such as FALL, TOPPLE, DEFACE, TORN DOWN, TARGETED, VANDALIZE,” Noo wrote.  “These words work to turn the real act and force of violence on its head. They signal that protesters’ removal of the statue is a violent act—not remedial. Even more pernicious is the underlying meaning suggested in these word choices. The language of toppling and falling is loaded with grotty double entendre. In addition to calling protesters violent, this language positions the statue as a sovereign authority and protesters as its subjects. Rhetorically speaking, pulling down the statue becomes an act of rebellion—an insurrection—by subjects seeking to overthrow the sovereign. Such a cheeky use of language!”    So much has been written about media representations of the struggles of oppressed people that you get easily wearied reading any new thing. But when you read Noo’s post you were captivated by her idea that the language of media reports positioned colonial statues as sovereigns. It struck you that this language might inadvertently be describing a struggle against a condition of power exercised in excess. After all, besides their manifest presence in physical spaces marking land and time, statues appear to convey a sense of surplus presence. Their adamant visibility in the public sphere is a demonstration of power over physical and mental space. Could the protests against these colonial statues be coming from an equally tacit recognition of a condition of power so profoundly manifest, insuperable?  
Sex work and performance as virtual resistance: in conversation with Veil Machine
Tuesday, March 22, 2022 | Lena Chen
My Zoom background depicted a Catholic confessional. Clad in a bra of dollar bills, I stood at the virtual pulpit, removing each dollar piece by piece, as a congregation of online audience members reported their sins via the chat window. Combining my experience as a stripper and my penchant for the unholy, this performance was one of several that made up E-Viction (2020), a “virtual arthouse/whore gallery” organized by New York City-based sex worker art collective Veil Machine.
Complex machineries of ethics and desire: in conversation with Melanie Jame Wolf
Monday, March 14, 2022 | Angel Callander
Melanie Jame Wolf is a Melbourne-born artist currently based in Berlin, whose practice uses moving image, textile, and sound to broadly analyze the complexities of performance as a discipline, and in everyday life. Wolf eloquently describes her concerns as being “the poetics and problematics of ghosts, class, pop, sensuality, gender, narratology, and the body as a political riddle.” In 2021 she released two new works that marked significant changes to her practice. Acts of Improbable Genius (2021) follows Pierrot the Clown and Wolf’s persona of Stand-up Ron performing the same monologue on the nature of comedy, culminating in the death of Wolf’s years-long character study of Ron. Understudies (2021) is Wolf’s first scripted and choreographed film, featuring seven actors performing fragments of Nina’s monologue from Anton Chekhov’s 1896 play, The Seagull. 
One use, over and over: in conversation with Bat-Ami Rivlin
Monday, March 7, 2022 | Daniel Sharp
A society that prioritizes a one-way, single-use system of consumption will, at some point, have to deal with its unsustainable methods of disposal. Instead of redefining waste or prioritizing cyclical systems of reuse, we might just come up with new names for the same systems. Some people call this green colonialism—the idea that infrastructure for renewable resources will continue to exploit and displace rural, Indigenous, and/or under-resourced communities, both at home and abroad. This translates to mercury in Indigenous waterways, hazardous waste behind Black elementary schools, and 1.07 million metric tonnes of plastic waste exported to nearly every continent on the planet. Oil companies can rebrand into wind power companies. Flattening buffalo ranges makes way for American and Canadian corporations to frack the land for energy; they keep grids, companies, and corporations up and running, which in turn keeps the TV on, tuned to stations like Fox News.
Ancestral, elemental, and poly-vocal: a conversation with Gavilán Rayna Russom
Thursday, February 17, 2022 | Kayla Guthrie
Spanning several decades of practice, Gavilàn Rayna Russom’s work explores the social, embodied, and transformational potential of music. Known mainly for her solo musical releases, both eponymous and under monikers including Black Meteoric Star, Paper Eyes, Child, and Pain Slut, her elemental approach to analog synthesis is grounded in an intimacy with her medium’s constituent parts gleaned from hand-building synthesizers in her early career. With predecessors in the New York City avant-garde tradition of Jack Smith and Arthur Russell, Russom views her electronic compositions and research-informed performance works as a way to “restructure time,” derived from a creative process marked by the awareness that “ideas about music emerge from social contexts.”
Naming home: in conversation with artist Lauren Crazybull
Monday, February 14, 2022 | Adam Whitford
Lauren Crazybull and I met in the fall of 2019 on Treaty 7 territory while they were in the midst of gathering research as the province of Alberta’s first Artist in Residence. A year later, the research culminated in an exhibition, TSIMA KOHTOTSITAPIIHPA Where are you from? presented at Latitude 53 and subsequently at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (SAAG). While working with Lauren on the SAAG iteration, I was struck by the depth of personal and historical experiences contained within Lauren’s exhibition. This multimedia project of audio, photographs, a book, and paintings culminated in an immensely thoughtful intersection of personal, cultural, geographic and linguistic Indigenous issues. Through discussions with Lauren, I felt that there was still so much about the travels, stories, and historical context of the exhibition that went unsaid.
My Bloody Island
Wednesday, February 2, 2022 | Ren Ebel
In the summer of 2020 two identical catamarans sat docked end-to-end in the port of Mahón, Menorca. Blown-up photos of sea creatures plastered along their sides advertised glass-bottom boat tours of the island’s giant natural harbour. I took Hanah (my daughter, then nearly three years old) on one of the tours. She was restless onboard as a distorted voice produced facts in five languages about certain landmarks along our route, including a few small, rocky islets floating in the port. Our boat stopped at the edge of the open sea and we were escorted below deck into one of two cramped viewing compartments, where haunted-looking fish materialized out of the green ether to snap at mud-coloured pellets flung discretely overboard by the crew.  
Ancestral and future foods: in conversation with Dupla Molcajete
Monday, January 31, 2022 | Beatriz Paz Jiménez and Zoë Heyn-Jones
Researcher-artists and cultural workers Beatriz Paz Jiménez and Zoë Heyn-Jones work together as Dupla Molcajete: dupla meaning duo in Spanish, and molcajete (mohl-cah-HEH-tay) referring to the Mexican mortar. From the Nahuatl word molcaxitl (molli = sauce and caxitl = cup or bowl), this prehispanic utensil, usually made from volcanic stone or clay, is used to grind spices and other ingredients, and often to make sauces that are served directly in the mortar itself...As Dupla Molcajete, Paz Jiménez and Heyn-Jones have an emergent collaborative practice that creates spaces for experimentation at the nexus of art, food, and culture from Mesoamerican perspectives. Dupla Molcajete works to centre food justice and sustainability, leveraging the resources of art and university spaces to engage with wider communities. They centre ancestral knowledge and (perma)cultural practices between Mexico and Canada—and across the hemisphere—through cooking, eating, talking, writing, curating, publishing, collaging, and making plant-based photochemical images, among other actions.
Hogwash: Artwork and Anti-Work
Wednesday, January 26, 2022 | Sam Weselowski
The pig taped to the wall is the colour of smog. Hung vertically by the snout, its pear-shaped body has had a sizeable chunk sliced from its back, revealing the hammy flesh within. A knife sticks out from the pig’s side, but this looks less like a wound than a sheath. The exposed blade has a bag of cigarette filters stuck to its base, and a blister pack lies close to the pig’s forelegs. An upside-down bunch of white daisies hangs down its centre. Superimposed onto the pig’s body, the orange space behind the daisies suggests some kind of dimensional rupture, a gulf between two worlds—pig and wildflowers—haphazardly sealed by blue tape. Strapped with trash and plants, the animal serves as both feast and landfill, producer and consumer, pork and pig.
Duet for Spackle
Monday, January 24, 2022 | Hannah Berger
I bring up the concept of “stuffedness,” because it has been whispered as the unofficial cause of death. Following the burial, my boss said that if we hadn’t buried Spackle so soon, we could have opened her up to look inside. We saw nibble-marks on the blue insulating foam on the walls of the duck hutch. Before then, I had assumed that the cause of death was “being in service to a children’s summer camp,” because this appeared to be the cause of all other destruction on the farm: the muddy patches of dirt where grass used to grow; the infant vole that the white-blond child grabbed and squeezed; the hand-soap bubbles that piled up under the outdoor sink; all the plants ripped from the ground in elated fits; and, more obliquely, the old hen’s scabbing back patches, plucked bare by the rooster; the sheep’s lost horn; and, finally, Spackle. It was Spackle, stuffed or sick or exasperated, in whom we decided to place our remorse. The bird is swathed in its own Manila sympathy cards and flowers. Only the hard parts remain. 
“Not a just image, just an image.”
Thursday, January 20, 2022 | Olivia Klevorn
1. You go out dancing with the gay boys. Afterwards, you all decide to get pancakes because only sugar can soften the blow of leaving with the same people you came with. At the diner you settle easily into a purple vinyl booth, place your orders, and take solace in the vast blue light horizons of your phone screens. The table goes silent as it always does when gay men re-enter the visual ecology of their natural habitat, mollified by pixelated rivers of naked flesh, retouched ass cheeks as firm, sweet, and stale as a bag of Haribo gummies, luscious trunks dripping with boughs of cheap leather and tacky lace, marbled cerulean skylines sculpted by modernist mansions, and white lily petal buttons of friends, lovers, mentors, baristas, and “that guy” at the gym, each waiting to be plucked.
A recipe for oppositional remembrance
Thursday, January 13, 2022 | Jessica Félicité
In April of 2020, the novelist Arundhati Roy wrote: “The pandemic is a portal.” As we continue through the portal, navigating the emergence of new variants, it is a fertile time to collectively embrace liminality as our mode of existence. Oscillating between states of lockdown and re-emergence felt like constantly taking flight towards the unknown. In the foreword of Borealis, an essay by Aisha Sabatini Sloan published in 2021, editor Youmna Chlala reflects on the tension that exists in trying to situate oneself within the ever-changing spaces we occupy: “It is as if you are trying to land your gaze somewhere but the landscape won’t let you.” We have yet to arrive on solid ground, as we traversed another year shaped by the pandemic.
After the Storm
Thursday, January 13, 2022 | Olajide Salawu
On both the Anglophone and the Francophone sides, Africa was on the podium of literary delight in 2021. It is true as in the words of Samira Sawlani that African writers took the world by storm. Boubacar Boris Diop won the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature for his book titled, Murambi: The Book of Bones, which explores the 1994 Rwandan  Genocide, . It is the fifth decade of the prize and Diop is among the few Africans who have won the prestigious award organized by World Literature Today of the University of Oklahoma.  The Ghanaian writer, Meshack Asare, also was a recipient of the Children’s Literature category in 2015. Neustadt International Prize for Literature is considered one of the most prestigious awards only in proximity to the Nobel Prize, amounting to $50,000.00. More than the visibility benefits, this award would position Diop not only in the African literary market more, but also across uncharted territories where his works have not been read or studied.
This can’t be the right place: reflections on an insurrection
Thursday, January 6, 2022 | Mike Curran
On Interstate-94 between Minneapolis and southern Wisconsin, flattened farmland gradually gives way to sandstone buttes. 18,000 years ago, this ground held a glacial lake. When the glacier receded, an ice dam broke, unleashing a violent flood that forged the buttes’ contours. Eventually, in the flood’s wake, the Waterpark Capital of the World™ would be built. Since the first waterslide was installed in 1980, “the Dells”—shorthand for this area—has become a land of “COUNTRY’S ONLY” and “PLANET’S BIGGEST”. Among these achievements is the United States’s largest inverted monument: the Upside-Down White House. This imitation of the presidential palace is the reason for my visit. I hoped that, a year removed from the U.S. Capitol insurrection, walking its upturned halls would bring some clarity to a democracy forever taking on water, now sinking to impossible depths.
"I'm still here, still alive, still valuable, even when I can't get out of bed": in conversation with Hannah Bullock
Tuesday, December 21, 2021 | Hannah Doucet
Hannah Bullock is a visual artist and writer based in Toronto. Her work explores her lived experience with chronic pain, through printmaking, video, sculpture, drawing, performance and writing. As part of a poetic essay video 2020-09-16 at 11:19:28 AM, Hannah’s voice calmly and firmly recites, “I can’t stop my immune system from failing me from time to time or maybe I could if I took better care of myself. But it’s hard to take care of yourself when your own body doesn't take care of you.” With this work, Hannah draws you into an intimate space of her personal computer desktop and her own world of grappling with chronic pain, the medical system, and her own theorizations around illness. 
In defense of belly button lint and the hole that is nothing
Tuesday, November 30, 2021 | Lauren Prousky
My boyfriend’s opinions about my body generally swing amorously between ecstatic enjoyment and appropriate indifference, and for that I am grateful. There is one outlier, however. One spot pokes a small hole through his studied feminist temperament to reveal a well-meaning but not necessarily welcome qualm about my physical form: he regularly informs me that my belly button is dirty. The first time this happened, my response was disbelief followed by a defensive boast about my usually superior hygiene. He then showed me his own immaculate navel and told me to look at mine in comparison. Realizing then that I had never really looked around in that part of my body, I fearfully peered down, jutting out my pelvis to get a good view. Contorted and vulnerable, I was thus confronted with a surprisingly dark naval cave, unmistakably specked with stalagmites.
Directing the acoustic gaze: in conversation with Oshay Green
Wednesday, November 17, 2021 | Mark Pieterson
“For me, the improvisational skill and experimental language of jazz artists like Pharaoh Sanders, Alice Coltrane, and Sun Ra, gave me permission to seek a plane of creativity that allowed for freedom and liberation, in all its valences”, artist Oshay Green tells me during our conversation outside a Los Angeles cafe. As far as influence, he leaves nothing on the table. Whether it’s the gritty, urban environment near his Dallas studio -- which provides him with an ample source of metal scraps and concrete that compose his sculptures -- or the conceptual approach of 20th-century Japanese and Korean artists such as Nebuo Sekine and Lee Ufan, Green channels his resources and influences to create objects that explore the interdependencies of being. 
Talking screens, translating media: a conversation with Oliver Husain
Tuesday, November 2, 2021 | Emily Doucet
Oliver Husain is an artist and filmmaker based in Toronto. His exhibitions and films combine elements of cinema and performance, drawing on a range of objects, stories, and materials to create lush, curious environments that denaturalize architectures and histories alike. I first wrote about Oliver’s work in a 2016 review of an exhibition of his film Isla Santa Maria 3D at Gallery TPW in Toronto. Then, as now, I was mesmerized by the way Husain kaleidoscopically interrogates his subjects. I spoke with him this summer over Zoom while we were both in Germany (him in Berlin and me in Essen) about several of his recent projects, including DNCB, a collaboration with Kerstin Schroedinger which explores the communal history of Dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB)—a highly toxic chemical used in both colour film processing and alternative treatments for individuals living with AIDS during the 1980s and 1990s—and Streamy Windows, a collaborative experiment in producing for live streaming.
Grounding a story around the senses: a conversation with Francesca Ekwuyasi
Thursday, October 28, 2021 | Ruby Chijioke-Nwauche
Francesca Ekwuyasi is an incredible storyteller. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, she is currently based in Halifax(K’jipuktuk), where she produces poignant literature and multidisciplinary artwork from within her own universe. Her debut novel, Butter Honey Pig Bread has received much acclaim for its honest and heartfelt approach to themes of queerness, belonging, faith, family, and femininity. Notably longlisted for the 2020 Giller Prize, the novel was a finalist for CBC's 2021 Canada Reads competition, and was shortlisted for the 2021 Governor General's Award, among a host of other recognitions. Moreover, Ekwuyasi goes beyond the literary form to tell stories. One of her film projects, Black + Belonging was screened at the Halifax Black Film Festival in March 2019, as well as the Montreal International Black Film Festival, and the Toronto Black Film Festival in February 2020. As is evident from the title, the film explores what it means to be black while occupying different spaces and places; the difficulty of navigating others’ perceptions of oneself while also discovering what that self is, and how that self might expand or contract according to the space which it occupies. 
The Chaos of Eros: in conversation with the programmers of Erotic Awakenings
Monday, October 4, 2021 | Maria Isabel Martinez
Erotic life is a treasure we hold close until we believe its delight might multiply in the hands, eyes, ears, or mouth of another. One such place for sharing is “Erotic Awakenings,” an archive primarily containing writings hosted on the website of Toronto artist-run gallery Hearth Garage. The project is a collaboration between the gallery’s programmers Benjamin de Boer, Philip Ocampo, Rowan Lynch, and Sameen Mahboubi and writer and facilitator Fan Wu. Each piece of writing is singular in form and content, reflective of our varied erotic experiences.
The making of colonial museums: in conversation with Dan Hicks
Thursday, September 23, 2021 | Olajide Salawu
Dan Hicks has been at the center of conversations on the violent history of colonial museums and on how cultural objects pillaged from the Benin Kingdom can be returned to their original homes. His recent scholarship has focused on the colonial histories of cultural objects, work which has intersected with recent global campaigns against racism, continued imperialism in the Middle East, and ongoing ecological disasters. His two most recent books, The Brutish Museums: The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution (paperback 2021) and A Cultural History of Objects (2020) are both diligent interventions that investigate the underbelly of colonialism and the foundations of Western cultural institutions, with a particular focus on museums where artefacts and valuables that have been expropriated from other regions of the world are displayed for visitors. 
Frontiers of the posthuman natural world: in conversation with Alice Bucknell
Monday, September 13, 2021 | Angel Callander
Alice Bucknell is an artist and writer based in London, UK. Her work uses video game engines and speculative fiction to explore the interconnections between ecology, architecture, and non-human and machinic intelligence. Bucknell’s recent works Swamp City (2021), E-Z Kryptobuild (2020), and Align Properties (2020) are artificial promo videos for imaginary development companies that parody the language and aesthetic conventions of real estate advertising...In this conversation, Alice and I discuss her inspiration for Swamp City, and the associated legal controversy with the Oppenheim Group (of Selling Sunset fame), the difficulties of using non-human characters, Bucknell’s home state of Florida, and how parafiction—a term coined by Carrie Lambert-Beatty to describe the blending of facts and fiction—is a necessary strategy for coming to grips with apocalyptic themes.
Rejection Season
Saturday, September 11, 2021 | Danielle Taschereau Mamers
Rejection season coincides with spring—a small cruelty of cyclical rhythms. Winter lifts and I assess what is revealed from under patches of dirty snow. The salt-stained sidewalk and remnants of grey ice are bleak. My inbox is bleaker. As another day runs out of business hours, I manually refresh my email. “Checking for mail…” appears under my various inboxes, each acquired from a temporary gig and kept active on the off chance that someone may want to reach me.  No new messages, just the same old news that has piled up over the past few weeks. A form letter announces a search committee’s inundation with exquisite applications, offering regrets and warmest regards. That note dredged up drafts and dossiers long buried in the back of my mind during the suspended state of winter. Like the detritus that resurfaces as snowbanks recede, my cover letters look weathered in the cold light of mid-March. I mentally cross off another entry on the list of jobs I’ve applied for.
The Republic of Apology
Thursday, August 12, 2021 | Chigbo Arthur Anyaduba
In the Republic of Apology sorry can buy you anything. Can pay for anything. Those were the opening lines of your book on apology. When your editor Zach first read it, he said that etymologically-speaking “sorry” and “apology” were not neighbours. Apology was a statement of excuse,  something put up in defence against accusations. That was how ancient Greeks understood it. Sorry, on the other hand, came from Middle English and expressed sympathy and a feeling of soreness or sorrowfulness. The operational form of the contemporary regime of apology, said Zach, had returned to the original meaning of the word [...] A few weeks after you sent your manuscript to Zach, he called, sounding excited. Over drinks, Zach said, I couldn’t help myself.Your manuscript inspired me to write a story set in your Republic of Apology. His story is about a man who personifies all the apology paraphernalia celebrated in the Republic. He apologises for everything; he greets apology, jokes apology, weeps apology. Step on his feet while in a bus he apologises with a smile. Yet, as it turns out, this man is a serial killer. Gentle in his approach and always full of apologies to his victims even when killing them. “I am so, so sorry that I have to kill you,” he always says to them, “it’s probably no fault of yours, eh. I can’t help it. I do not hate the fact you’re an aberration of nature, a bloody faggot, eh. But I have to say I am sorry it has to end like this, eh.” His last words to his victims were always: “You do not deserve to die.”  Zach was excited about his story. You asked him what the point was, exactly, about a serial killer who apologised to his victims.  The hollowness of it all, he replied.  You told him about an event you recently attended where the Prime Minister delivered an impassioned apology speech to Indigenous peoples. One man in the audience stood up and screamed at the top of his voice just when the Prime Minister had finished talking: “We got our apology! We got our apology!” The man wasn’t far from where you sat. You could see that he was crying as he screamed, almost losing his voice. You weren’t sure whether he was crying because of the Prime Minister’s apology speech or whether his “We got our apology” was meant as sarcasm. One way or another, you said, there must certainly be something in an apology that is more than hollow. In the Republic of Apology where apology solves injustice, Zach said, it’s all the currency there is.
Bot, Interrupted
Wednesday, August 11, 2021 | Uii Savage
Doomscrolling through my Instagram newsfeed as a habituated ritual of self-sabotage, I surf past public personas seamlessly blending amongst literal fake people. Developing a public persona online is as old as the internet. But what happens when we depart from the highly augmented self and invoke a world of bots? Artificial humyns deployed as virtual influencers, or ‘bots', are on the rise, and the interchangeability of their preferred nouns yield audiences who are just as intrigued as they are confused. Incidentally, when referring to some of these influencers as bots, one is also referring to their process of development. These online apparitions, used as computer-generated fictional characters presented as people, are devoid of agency but perform theatrically as though independent from corporate influence. Vapid in personality yet hyperreal in allure, virtual influencers crystallize "brand as lifestyle" in the metaverse where humyn discretion increasingly eclipses.
Strategies to enflesh the archive: a conversation with Emilio Rojas
Tuesday, August 3, 2021 | Laurel V. McLaughlin
How and why do we tell stories? Whose stories are told by History and whose are erased, forgotten, or deemed “dangerous” to tell? How do we acknowledge and confront the reality that particular histories fall outside of “acceptable”; and, how do we instead, critically shift to address, honor, and care for them? These are just some of the crucial questions that have been posed in academic writing, yelled throughout the streets, and scrawled across public monuments. We’ve seen them on international, national, and local scales over the course of this tumultuous year. Recent efforts—enabled by past advocacy—have challenged individuals, collectives, and institutions to examine fundamentally how people understand time. History writ large, marginalized histories, privilege, subjectivity/objectivity, and institutional methods of communication shift. But perhaps we should also be asking ourselves, what are the non-visible methods of record-keeping that might also erect and maintain barriers; preventing critical reassessments of History?