Blog: week of 12/02/21

I have officially hit go on my phd :) wow. I've spent this week organising readings and filing systems, although my laptop is in for battery replacement so I've been putting off Zotero'ing. I've been using notion for a pretty long time and I still don't feel like I truly am ~using it to the best of its potential, but what I've got set up now is fairly satisfying for my overdescriptive hoarder impulses. Nothing HAS to be siloed away and separated, not really..... everything is connected.......

Here's a sc exerpt from my master library database in table mode:

wowx2. This is, for the moment, where basically everything goes. I'm still not 100% on how I want teaching resources to flow throughout my notion sections. I don't think everything here will necessarily end up filtered and pulled into teaching pages, but this is great to have as a primordial soup of references and resources that I can (manually) pull from and clean up for a more refined teaching-specific database (that could be made public for students if needed).

Here are my categorisations (because information sorting is the juicy part of notiondatabasing).

  1. project: fun, research, phd, teaching, creative (creative and fun could/should probably be collapsed into one. LOL @ how i put fun on basically everything.... i like reading huh)

  2. link / file

  3. type: academic article, book, podcast etc. mostly useful for sorting academic vs non academic references

  4. name

  5. author... i'm really lazy about filling this out at the moment

  6. PHD topic: I'm trying to use this as a higher level "bucket" with relatively strict conceptual boundaries, with sources only getting ONE tag here. I only tag phd things with this

  7. keywords: and then use this as the free association cluster because giving a single tag STRESSES ME OUT SOOOO BAD..... my knowledge structure is 95% informed by growing up using tumblr tagging systems </3 I think this will still need refining and re-ordering, reclustering etc over time but it's nice to have a section that's more ~emergent and free form, and then I can just search with one of these tags to see anything that is related, across all other topics / areas of interest / project / etc

  8. triage: something can be minor, toasty medium, or ESSENTIAL which is mostly useful to make myself think critically and put aside my excitement

  9. status: to do/in process/finished/skimmed/annotated: the reality is that I skim so many things and i think that's ok sometimes but I need to make sure that's recorded as something different to close reading.

  10. in zotero?: this is really the same thing as "annotated" but the visual pop of a checkbox is useful

  11. summary: this is a property rather than the actual sub-page of the database entry that I can write in.... not 100% if i'll use this but maybe as I get more specific about how I'm using a resource.

What this means is that in my phd notion page i have a library page, where I've made an in-line linked database, set view to kanban board and filtered for project:phd

And then I can also sort by progress (like above) or by topic (below). Which is why I have to be strict about everything only getting ONE tag for that, otherwise it shows up in multiple categories which confuses me. lol at me putting hauntology in affect for some reason.

I also am putting precedents/projects into the master library and have another linked in-line database view for this below my readings section. Anything I put into these phd-specific linked databases will also feed back into the master library. Atm the whole thing is quite ugly but i like it because I like being bombarded with information. :)

That's basically exploiting one Massive database and filtering/sorting, but I could alsoooo work with relations more (between separate databases). So far the main thing I can forsee is any writing/drafting/etc docs will be easily linked to relevant readings. like this! (this relation is also visible to the master library / readings database.)

You: babe just use zotero

me: yea but ......... database relations

I do 100% intend to put valuable texts in zotero, but this way I can keep it relatively minimal and concise and feel safe in the knowledge that every other random brain burst is sitting in notion too.

Also all of this stuff is slightly more interesting and cool for teaching imo.... pulling together readings, classwork modules, resources for week plans, resource collections sorted by topic or type, that sort of thing. but anyway. If you have advice on notioning please let me know. I'm sure this is very funny to look at. I am bad at making it pretty because I just care about all information, all the time. Also most productivity hackeur notion advice is more about visuals and life organisation. It's all so tidy! Get messier. I think notion is very epic for cross-topic/cross-discipline associative thinkers who can't draw mindmaps without everything ending up super tangled (me).

Things I've read

So what did I actually tick off reading or skimming this week.

The weird and Eerie and What is hauntology? by Mark Fisher, as well as this great essay (and some other pieces) by Matt Colquhoun

cool cool cool. I've been meaning to read Fisher for ages. In my research/making I am working amongst queer histories (the recorded as well as the erased/forgotten/destroyed/imagined) and queer futures (potentials/utopias) and I think hauntology is useful for thinking about cultural production and temporality, as well as potentiality and alternate histories/futures. It's also useful for thinking about the technologies I'm using/going to use: vr, machine learning, emergent digital tech etc..... all these supposedly new futuristic tools that actually have a lot of history and cultural meaning (including in how we think about the future). Accelerationism is something I'm going to have to keep digging into once I dive more deeply into technofeminism and it's extra useful to have the other side of the coin / janus-face to think about.

I have also been dabbling in some China Mieville fiction and his writing on the uncanny and abcanny, and I think weird/eerie/uncanny/abcanny might be a useful thread to keep investigating with regards to what it Feels Like to be in VR.

How to Make Art at the End of the World: A Manifesto for Research-Creation by Natalie Loveless

great vibes, love the vibes. Mostly useful in a methodological sense (design research/practice-based design) but her writing on eros and curiosity is particularly interesting and valuable. The polydisciplinamory chapter is useful but I have some issues with some of its framing, which is quite likely just due to my dislike of/discomfort with anti-social queer theory.


"While queer theory commonly asserts that it is the queering, the undoing of (sexual/disciplinary) norms, that is at stake, the theoretically polyamorous steps in, in its wake, to invite us to develop and nurture attachment across multiple (sexual/social/disciplinary) sites." pg 62

I have problems with the idea of queering as solely centred on undoing of norms / unworlding - as a way of being that is solely one of negation. I have problems with the idea that queerness is not sufficient for, or not adept at, "developing and nuturing attachment". I also have a problem in general with using queerness / polyamory in this extended, abstracted metaphor kind of way. Figuring out how to work through my initial kickback and discomfort into actually justifiable critique is going to be interesting <3

I do still think it's a really valuable chapter though. I want to get amongst it more. I also appreciate Loveless' covering of Lacanian psychoanalysis in the later chapters because I don't/didn't know much about it and now im like (mind blown emoji). Most of it made sense to me because I've read Anne Carson's Eros: the Bittersweet. Both sujet supposé savoir + objet petit a are i think going to function more as creative influences for making things rather than theoretical concepts/tools of analysis for me, especially when thinking about loss, lack, abscence, presence, desire.....I love the spatiality of it, it works really well to start trying to think about how this could be applied to making in/with VR.

"It becomes the lure. It becomes the object-cause of desire, setting our stories, and thereby our words and our worlds into play. It becomes the thing that keeps us digging to the other side. Articulating a compulsion to repeat, the objet petit a is that object that makes manifest the drive(s) in the form of desire." pg.82

TransMaterialities: Trans*/Matter/Realities and Queer Political Imaginings by Karen Barad

Karen Barad is always such a riot, I forgot how fun she is to read. Quantum physics and queerness, and mostly, ELECTRICITY, let's get into it. There's meat in here for queer frameworks of making - especially when thinking of materiality, worlding and the becoming of self as an emergent, ongoing process. It also links well to previously mentioned psychoanalysis in that we're discussing The Void. There's a lot going on here but I think this is really useful for thinking about how to conceptualise virtual reality/virtual environments... seeing the virtual environment as a field that is "full" rather than an empty container.

"Virtual particles are quantized indeterminacies-in-action. Virtual particles are not present (and not absent), but they are material. In fact, most of what matter is, is virtual. Virtual particles do not traffic in a metaphysics of presence. - in space and time. They are ghostly non/existences that teeter on the edge of the infinitely fine blade between being and nonbeing. Virtuality is admittedly dif-ficult to grasp. Indeed, this is its very nature. [...] Virtual particles are not in the void but of the void. They are on the razor’s edge of non/being. The void is a lively tension, a desiring orientation toward being/becoming. The void is flush with yearning, bursting with innumerable imagin-ings of what might yet (have) be(en). Vacuum fluctuations are virtual deviations/variations from the classical zero-energy state of the void. That is, virtuality is the material wanderings/wonderings of nothingness; virtuality is the ongoing thought experiment the world performs with itself. Indeed, quantum physics tells us that the void is an endless exploration of all possible couplings of virtual particles, a “scene of wild activities.”" pg 395-6

[nodding wisely]..... I agree.

"All touching entails an infinite alterity, so that touching the other is touching all others, including the “self,” and touching the “self” entails touching the stranger within. Even the smallest bits of matter are an unfathomable multitude." pg 401

There's also a lot about bioelectricity and the development of tadpole faces. It's very very cool. I already want to reread this article.

""Can we (re)generate what was missing in fleshiness but materially present in virtuality? Can we (re)generate what our bodies sense but cannot yet touch? Can we find ways to adjust the appropriate ion potential to activate and generate new fields of re-membering?"pg.411

YEAH. Can we?

I haven't actually said anything interesting or valuable about these texts. I'm just excited :) For now this is mostly just to get me to commit to posting anything at all.

To Do

I'm still organising things and figuring out what's best to read when, but I think now is a good time to do an overview of VR + New Media projects and precedents, and to also supplement that with a close(r) reading of related texts. Namely: The Queer Games Avant-Garde: How LGBTQ Game Makers Are Reimagining the Medium of Video Games by Bonnie Ruberg and Tactics of Interfacing: Encoding Affect in Art and Technology by Ksenia Fedorova. I also need to get into unity and start doing little sketches/experiments just so I'm back in the flow of making and turning ideas into things. Gonna be fun!