Blog post 3 – to be continue…

•April 1, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Blog post 3

When wandering around the site, I was thinking about the word “Anthropocene”. The term is now being widely debated and articulated. The project itself is an observatory practice I am taking to unfold the effects human actions have made to both ourselves and the outside world around us. “The project combines film, photography, documentation, interviews, spatial analysis and fieldwork to form an archive and a series of installations, seminars, debates and cultural interventions.”(45) Yes, it is about how I makes sense of the world around me, and how can I put those altogether in turn so that they can make sense to me. When recording, I paid special attention to human interactions as I believe any movement can bring up something besides the action itself. I chose to make the video into a documentary, which means that I’ll try to make the video as authentic as possible so that audiences can see through my eyes and feel what I was experiencing. 

Audios, photos I took, videos I recorded, and even the texts I wrote on our website are giving the audiences a combined sense of the issue I am addressing to. I’m trying to speak to them by using all types of media forms so that they can sense and feel the problems I am talking about. Whitehead suggested that “sensing” could be understood as the ways in which experience is expressed through subjects. Also, sensing practices are collaborative. “Sensors do not merely capture environmental data, but rather they are involved in collaborative sensing practices for parsing environments and environmental problems, as well as organizing approaches for how to take action and generate political responses through particular forms of environmental citizenship.”(394)

The aim this time to Flushing is to using my recording device to present a kind of visual map of the site. The documentary I am going to make, though might be a bit hard to achieve, should be something both purely authentic and story-like. “Matter’s stories emerge through humans, but at the same time humans themselves ‘emerge through “material agencies” that leave their traces in lives as well as stories.” No one can actually foresee what is going to happen, and what is the plot. As I first started to work on the project, I was so determined that I would go as deep as I can, and I would try my best to show my audiences how shabby the infrastructure on Main street is. During my first two trips there, and before I literally talked to the merchandisers and residents there, my opinion towards the whole area was so negative that I could never believe that the condition is getting better. However, according to what they said and what I saw later, I actually found that many are trying to address to the problem. I though that my whole experience with the site would be determined, purposeful, and follower my planed path. It turned out to be an adventure-liked investigation. Every time I step on the train back to Manhattan, “to be continue” popped out within my brain.

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Blog Post#3

•March 31, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I still remember the first time for me to go to Flushing. What attract me of that place is not what they sell or what I can eat. It is the affect. It is the feeling of home. Something so familiar that made me feel safe and settled. Just as Heather Houser points out in the  Posthuman Glossary, “[affect] is unqualified” and “affect are not recognized cognitively, they are still ‘irreducibly bodily and autonomic” (15). Not only human interaction conveys affect, the entangled relationship between physical and natural existence of the space also shaped what we feel in the area. Affect makes me love Flushing, but it also makes me feel concerned. I can feel the “vibe” change within Flushing district when I am walking around the space, so I wonder why? What leads to the differences? Is this good or bad? 

While I am working with my audio production, one of the process that is definitely necessary is noise reduction. Since I have many street scene sound sources to edit, a lot of them contain tremendous amount of noise. I start to wonder, what should I get rid of and what shouldn’t I? Noise is ” a level of interference in the communication of a message” and is “deemed meaningless by choice” (287). The process of determine if a sound is noise or effective information is very subjective and highly relied on the context. Inigo Wilkins discusses the “randomness” of noise, which randomness can be a concept that can potentially leads to great biases depending ones’ needs for information or ones’ intention in the space. When I am editing my sound source, I start to re-evaluate the concept of noise. For most of the pedestrians or residence in Flushing, sounds from the vendors, vehicles, and the crowd can disturbing. But for me, these “noise” are valuable. The signal which these “noise” conveyed may be filtered off by residence, and for me, these signals become valuable. The automatic grouping of sound, separation of noise and informational sound, reflect the natural human processing process as well. Similar automatic response often happens on many of our other attitude of matters around us. Just like when I bring in my own perception of “good and bad” while investigating the area, these preexisted perception can become problematic.

When I first start to investigate my precarity in Flushing, I had many preliminary ideas about the economic disparities happening in Flushing. However, as I continue working on my research, I found it is not exactly the case. I began to reflect the essence of my precarity. As I started to talk with the the locals, I found the most severe concerns are about housing, but not the direct threat from the business development. Originally, I thought local vendors will reject many of the restrictions to them. But surprisingly, many of them are very understanding to the current situation. I found one of the quote in the section of the Material Feminisms in the Posthuman Glossary very applicable to my research even my precarity do not have much to do with feminism. When we are trying to make effort to change the precarities, it is crucial “tp respect and meet well with, even extend care to, others while acknowledging that we may not know the other and what the best kind of care would be” (243).

When Brandon Jones is discussing the topic of Mattering, he emphases matter’s capacity to matter. He believes that “matter here is not ground or essence, but agentive, ‘produced and productive, genderated and generative’ ” (245). I hope my audio and video work can bring in the same power. I hope they can continually generate affect and create influences beyond my work. I wish my work can work as a lead, leading people to see the part of the place that they have neglected for long.

Blog Post 3 – a threat wrapped up in millennial branding

•March 31, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I am currently working with establishing the affect of my video and the affective response I aim to get from an audience. This has proven to be more difficult than I was expecting. I think that some of my struggle stems from the aesthetic of the very place I am trying to highlight as posing a threat. Industry City as a complex is new and entirely designed to appeal to people like me- young middle and upper-middle class people. And aesthetically, it works. I like their signage, the buildings look clean and refurbished. But these aesthetics don’t make the development inherently good. It just means that I have an internalized idea of what an attractive place should look like. Because of this, I find it difficult to show IC in videos and photographs while still emphasizing the threat it poses to the community.

In Affective Turn, Heather Houser writes “whether through fear, disgust, anxiety, or wonder, realizing vulnerability is rarely an easy matter” (Houser 16). I’ve noticed that I am struggling to capture the vulnerability of the Sunset Park community in a visual way. I don’t want to exploit this community or make it appear to be sad because it’s not- it’s a place that is full of people and diversity and life. However, I am trying to emphasize a precarity and establish a sense of threat to the community through my video project.

Because gentrification and displacement happen over time, there is no super obvious way to storyboard how to show these things when I’m taking video in the present day- not capturing change over a long period of time. In Urbanibalism, Wietske Maas and Matteo Pasquinelli envision the urban landscape and the way humans interact with it as a stomach. They write “innervated by flows of energy and matter… the urban landscape is alive… the world is seen as a geological metabolism” (Maas, Pasquinelli 443). This writing presents such an extreme visual as the ecology as a living, changing, devouring thing. It makes me think of elements of this urban landscape within Sunset Park that I may be able to capture to show the process of gentrification that exist as part of the community. Things like traffic and construction can be shown as a visual to accompany a human element and make the narrative feel more complete.

This also makes me think of the neighborhood as a sort of commons, as described in Lindsay Grace Weber’s The Commons. She describes the concept of the commons as “one which acknowledges and affirms the interconnected, transversal relations of all living matter” (Weber 86). While Weber’s “commons” can be more theoretical, as I sat in the park within Sunset Park on Saturday, surrounded by families, young couples, older residents, speaking different languages and listening to different music, I felt like Sunset Park was a common of its own. It’s a diverse, working community that thrives as a mix of everything that everyone brings to the table. Perhaps a way to show IC as a threat is to emphasize that this development is not actively working with this “interconnected” community.

Ultimately, in working on my video (deciding what to shoot, who to reach out to, how to edit, etc), I have to consider my audience. From what I have researched, people in the Sunset Park community understand what is happening with all of the luxury development following IC. I am interested in reaching out to an audience of people like myself who are the target market for developments like IC. After learning about how the development is disrupting the community, I shop at local small businesses when I visit Sunset Park and I think other people might do the same if they were to interact with media that explains the problem. Koen Leurs, Tamara Shepard, and Alison Harvey write in Youth about how young people are shaped by interaction with media ad tech- “young people navigate the opportunities that these shifts [hardware and software] afford in their quest to stake out their livelihoods and identities” (Leurs et al, 463). I think that I can create a piece of media through my video project that will be a familiar media format appealing to young people like myself, and I will be able to use this technology to influence this audience and spread the word about what is happening in Sunset Park.

-Kayla

Blog#3 Horror May Not Be As Scary

•March 31, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I devised the title of this piece as “Horror May Not Be As Scary” because if man is able to understand the causes and background that prompts such “horror”, then they wouldn’t be as caught off guard and be horrified.

What horror am I referring to? Ecohorror. It is defined as “a genre that deals with our fears an anxieties about the environment” (115). Though not limited to the ‘nature strikes back’ narrative, this narrative can be seen as a theme in science-fiction books and movies. But the causes that lead to ecohorror could very well be due to the reckless actions of humans. So great this epoch of human activities has impacted Earth—”human changes to the Earth’s climate, land, oceans and biosphere” (45), that it even been given the name “Anthropocene”, which is usually “characterized by a gradual extinction of other living entities” (36).

Hence, the project of ‘ecomaterialism’ has been conceived as “a project of theorizing the earth’s human and other-than-human dwellers in terms of multiple becomings with a detailed consideration of … the global dynamic of crisis ecologies as a result of human-driven alteration so the planetary ecosystems” (120).

I have used various forms of technology to compile the Anthropocene evidences that I have gathered at Astoria Park. With these video clips, I want edit them into once concise video to compare and contrast the beautiful to the ugly. By doing so will perhaps be able to emphasize the destructing actions of humans—even if it may not seem as severe at the beginning. However, as these tiny actions accumulate, consequences become horrific. The stories of nature turning their backs on humans, which are written by humans, show that we, humans, are not unaware of the harm being done on nature. Yet, knowledge is empty, without value, if knowledge doesn’t lead to action.

As a digital citizen, I understand how digital citizenship “requires us to interrogate technology as a place where power and knowledge find mechanized expressions” (104). And so, I act by composing my webpage for an audience that uses the Internet regularly, where they are able to locate the videos that portray the foreshadowing and leading to ecohorror if decisive actions to protect and fight for the well-being of the environment are not taken care of.

How much longer can others realize to what extent man has ruined the earth?

-quotes from The Posthuman Glossary; Anthropocene, Anthropocene Observatory, Digital Citizenship, Ecohorror, Ecomaterialism

-Ruby

giving voice to the issues

•March 31, 2019 • Leave a Comment


When we were first trying to decide on what our projects should revolve around, I instantly gravitated towards hair for some reason. The gravity of the topic of hair is often taken seriously enough by outsiders of the black community. For some it might seem like it just hair, something that grows on your body and provides protection and coverage. However, for many black people, especially black women, it is something that has a broad range of issues attached to it. As mentioned in the Afrofuturism piece, the black body has always been controlled. Even in  today’s technology-driven age, where technology devices are suppose to liberate the black body, it has in fact, further placed further restrictions on it. This is illustrative of historical practice, since the dawn of slavery, where black slaves were forced to cut of their hair and forgo intricate braiding designs. This control over black hair has transcended centuries, shaped by European beauty standards that define beautiful hair as straight hair. And in today’s society, black people are still controlled by constant restrictions over what hairstyles they can wear in the workplace or school. That is what problematizes the issue of beauty supply stores further. Not only are black people not able to control the state of their hair, they also do not have control over the industry that supplies them and the profits that it makes.

Currently, I am planning the content and production of my video that will be featured on my website. A lot of my photos have not featured people in them, on account that most of my sites requested that I not take photos with any of the customers in them. Therefore, I knew I wanted my video to be heavily dominated by black beauty supply customers and their voices. I attempt to give control and power to the women featured, so that they can talk honestly and without judgement about their experiences in beauty supply shops. I wanted to have the connotation behind technology be different than the one black people are often exposed to. Instead, I wanted to make it a positive experience of Digital Citizenship, whereby black people can “enable new forms of participation,” and perhaps, “change… existing social relations” (102). I asked black women who I know go to beauty supply stores in Brooklyn, questions about who they’ve noticed is the leadership at these establishments, the attitude they usually experience, and there feelings while in the beauty supply store. I choose not to include myself in the frame, so the focus is entirely on them.

However, often with personal accounts, many will immediately discredit them as singular experiences — a oppressed person should never have to provide statistics to prove that they are being oppressed. To avoid audiences from experiencing this, I decided to include several slides that take the viewers through some facts and figures about the industry. The colors of the slides were meant to provide consistency with the website and aesthetics of the beauty supply stores I have visited. The first slide details the breakdown of the ownership and profits. The statistics will detail just how much control Koreans have over the industry and simultaneously, how much they benefit from black customers and therefore, how much money is leaving the black community. They have such large spending power in the beauty industry, which should be seen in contrast to how the interviewees go on to talk about their experiences in the stores.

While, this is not one of the forms of alienation they talk about in the Alienation section, I think it is very applicable. While Marx is briefly mentioned, referencing his work on alienation when it comes to the laborer and the product, their also is alienation when it comes to how entrepreneurs see their customers. Often ones where they are not seen as human beings, but as dollar signs that do not need to be treated without respect or good customer service. This is also a factor of white supremacy, which constantly degrades the worth of black people. However, both exist because of the effects of capitalism. This brings up connections to the Neocolonial chapter in Posthuman. The exploitation of black communities has spread to other races outside of the white race. China has now begun to gain access to African resources through investment and loans. Much like Korean beauty supply store owners do through giving jobs to black employees in exchange for controlling the industry, Africans are supposed to be mollified by these actions. I hope that this video can create a realization of how many black customers have had a similar experience and realize the enormous buying power they have to demand more from the businesses they frequent. Another non-interview slide I want to showcase is a quote that that I hope will give perspective to the audience. If someone has an adverse reaction to the topic of the project, they should reassess why. Black community members have every reason to feel slighted by non-black business owners who come into their spaces, because no other ethnic enclave community would tolerate outsiders controlling the economic distribution of the community. I have one last slide before it transitions to the interviews that will bring it back to the community at hand. While I could not find any statistics specific to East Flatbush, like the ones mentioned in the earlier slides, I think the detailing the number of black people that live in East Flatbush bridges the gap. Since East Flatbush is a community with a majority black population, one can only infer that they buy a lot of hair care products, and therefore have to buy from one of Korean-owned beauty supply stores. Therefore, they are a community that has been afflicted by the way the Koreans control the industry and are threatened to their economic exploitation.

-Olivia Blackwell

Blog Post#3: Between Identity and Alienation

•March 31, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Human is alienating because it imposes a false representation on on existence. True alienation happens when… we think of the human as static, in the sense of having a particular fixed state or fixed belonging and characteristic”. – James William

What is the first image that pops in your head when you hear the word “Muslim”?

Is it a ‘desi’/ ‘arab’  man/ woman? If it’s a woman, is she wearing a hijab (headscarf)? If it’s a man, does he have a long beard? Is he wearing a taqiyah (Prayer skull cap)?

For a majority of America population, a similar image comes to mind when said the word “Muslim” and understandably so given the rise, expansion and dominance of Islam in the rest of the world. However, this association of Islam with the East marginalizes a significant proportion of the Muslim population, that is in numerous way, indigenize

Black Muslims are, in a sense, the pioneers of Islam in the United States. Long before, the Arab and South Asian immigration, this group of muslim converts, oppressed by the shackles of slavery, turned to Islam for knowledge and wisdom.

However, the past 4 decades have witnessed a rapid transformation of the demographics  American society . Black muslims, now, constitute only 20% of the entire muslim community. On the other hand, black muslims form 2% of the total black American population. Since this group is a minority within each of its already minority identities, their needs, concerns and voices are often overshadowed among the fight for the individual community’s rights. In times of diminished opacity and increased categorization, this group finds itself alienated from the standardized frameworks of what it is to be muslim or what it is to be black.  So while the Muslims and Blacks clamor for their religious and racial identities, the group at the intersection of these identities of goes unnoticed.

However, the West-African muslim community in the South Bronx has forged kinship ties that transcend beyond biological relations that has given groups and families living in the area a place to call home. This small mosque on the corner of Alexander Avenue is a haven to a number of Muslims looking for a group to call a family, a place to call home. While the adults spend non-working hours hanging out or praying with their kin, the children spend their hours out of school learning quranic  teachings. Connected through shared racial, religious and linguistic identities, these individuals come together to form self-supporting community of support and brotherhood. The goal of this organization is simply to provide its members a place to pray and seek answers to higher existential questions and a community to identify with.

AIMS/ GOALS

The project seeks to take viewers on a multi-sensory journey through this mosque located in Mott Haven. Assuming that most of the viewers have never been to a mosque, or even if they have, they have never been a “local” mosque (as different from a grandiose, monumental one) I wish to familiarize the audience with the architectural layout, the interiors and their interactions with one another as well as the mosque’s community.

In doing so, I wish to reveal and educate the “general” american public about the lives of an economically underprivileged community in South Bronx in the wake of racial tension, anti-muslim rhetoric, increasing costs of living and gentrification. The major goal is show how this small community has forged a new sort of kinship and created a self-sufficient sanctuary on this street corner, tucked away in a residential area in Mott Haven, away from the hustle-bustle of the larger society. I understand that is doing so, I might, unconsciously, romanticize and objectify their identity and their space. However, it is important to understand that such romanticization can be a necessary evil if one is trying to get an audience interested in a cause that they have no direct stakes in. Moreover, by constantly being conscious of and accounting for my biases and subjective understanding of the issue, I aim to avoid to exploitatively romanticize the community and its identity. My goal is not to be the champion of the issue. My goal, with this project is simply to bring to educate people about this subgroup within the larger muslim community which is often overlooked due to the collision of their dual minority identities and alienated due to their divergence from the standard framework of their racial/ religious identities.

#alienation #architectonicdisposition #kinship #opacity

-Vrinda

Blog post #3

•March 31, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Necropolitics is the politics of death, how a society or a social structure has the power to “let live and make die” in other words dictate who gets to live and who has to die. This statement may sound cynical, too unbelievable to some, however, necropolitics describes the current society that we are living in. It is the society where some people can live a luxurious life without having to worry about their bank account while some can’t even live a day without begging for a change. This is because economic inequality leads to physical inequality making wealth dictate people’s life and death.

East Flatbush like many places in the world has low life quality problems. The air quality is unhealthy, there are only limited safe spaces for youth to be. The economic disparity forces some to adopt violence and join the gang as the answer which further pushes paranoia in the police making them pick on youth in the community creating an endless vicious cycle. This is the true example of how government spending on certain facilities, environments can dictate people’s lives. East Flatbush is just a fragment of the world’s system problem as a whole. It is the system that allows those who has the authority to control the world’s population.

But How do we get people to care?

From reading the post-human glossary, words that spoke to my mind are “Necropolitics, noise, occupy and networked affect” which all gave me a step closer to the answer of the question.

We live in the world of social media networking where messages can be sent, liked or shared which circulated and intensify its meaning by both the people and platform or what is called the networked affect. It may sound simple but the sense of togetherness intensified by the liked and shared button is beyond imaginable. If used in the right way, it can more create awareness, sympathy, and hopefully more understanding and reform. However, we need to spot the noise which is defined as something that counters affect the information, for instance, today’s fake news media, media polarization, shadow banning or simply disinformation. The manipulation of information in order to persuade the mass has been done for centuries, however, today it has been widely used than ever. Politics is about dividing the people by making them see things as binary in order to pick a side. However, the networked affect can help people spot, disregard noises and compromise instead as being used as a tool to fulfill certain political agendas. Despite that, it is not easy. Before creating a networked affect where people share and like a message, one has to be able to make people occupy with the content which is to become fully immersed in the work. How do we create a work of art that occupies people to advocate for something and shift a political and social idea? To become a voice instead of a noise? It is something hard to create but its affect is powerful and worth trying to create in order to the end the necropolitical society that we are living in.