"Perception requires engagement": Banner from the Venice Biennale. You bet.
Bloomington: Post-Posttranssexual: Transgender Studies and Feminism
But besides the wonderful conference, we were treated to a special tour of the amazing Kinsey Institute, and Kate was invited to sign their archive copy of her book Gender Outlaw (in the pic to the right). The Kinsey Institute is jaw-droppingly amazing...their archives include the world's most extensive collection of erotic art, dating back to the sixteenth century. Here's a shot of six of us in the Kinsey office: Kate, Hans Scheirl, me, and I'm still trying to sort out everyone else: help me out, folks, drop me a line with names.
Not to make light of any of this...fact is, during the panel discussion Susan asked me to read the concluding paragraph of the Posttranssexual Manifesto to the audience. I got a few sentences in, and discovered I was crying. It's been a long road. We're not near the end yet, but we're all clearly on our way. And that, as Gandalf says, is a reassuring thought.
Madrid: Technologies of the Body
Neovagina Monologues at the Vortex
The show was inspired by Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, which started life as a one-person performance from a finished script; and by the late Spalding Gray, who sat at a table and improvised full-evening performances out of his notebook. There's more information about the Vortex here, and more info about the performance in general here.
I was thrilled when the Vortex's own Chad Salvata agreed to write and produce an original musical score and sound design for this production. With Jessica Cohen's inspired lighting design and terrific support from stage manager Tamara Farley and lightboard operator James Plata, I was in the best of hands.
Since the show was right here in Austin, we had the luxury of weeks of preparation and nearly a week of rehearsal, during which we tweaked the script extensively. The result of all that effort on everyone's part was right up there on the stage. Plus, we were finally able to get good four-camera video coverage (plus over a thousand high-quality stills) on three of the four nights, so there will definitely be a DVD down the line...at least, after as long as it takes to review and edit thirty-eight hours of footage into a single two-hour performance video.
Some time ago, there was a flap concerning encryption systems the MPAA uses to cripple DVDs and HD DVDs in order to prevent the purchaser (you) from exercising certain rights. These include such heinous crimes as fair use, backup copies, copying a DVD to the hard drive of a home entertainment system, and so forth.
Big cartels tend to be slow learners, because, in their experience, what they can't buy with money they can coerce with thuggery. One of the many things big cartels refuse to understand is that Digital Rights Management, or DRM, is a zero-sum game. So it wasn't long before clever people figured out the key to the encryption code, which is a single number, and posted it on their blogs. Amazingly, the MPAA then asserted that they owned the number, that posting it violated copyright, and that the MPAA would sue anyone who printed it. (For history buffs, that number, in hexadecimal format, is 09F911029D74E35BD84156C5635688C0.)
Copyrighting a single number is analogous to copyrighting a single letter of the alphabet. The idea that copyright law - already in serious disarray - could be further twisted by an abusive cartel laying claim to a single number raised the ire of a good many citizens, with the result that within a short time the number appeared on hundreds of thousands of web sites all over the world. At first the MPAA tried to kill each site by trolling for the number and demanding that it be removed. Angry citizens responded by embedding the number in images - like the cute li'l gebril above - making it invisible to text searches. Shortly the number was everywhere -- on T-shirts, in poetry and song lyrics, bumper stickers, graffiti, even tattoos. To me, this merely demonstrates the will of the people in action against thuggish attacks from a huge and clumsy beast which has outlived its time and can't understand the world it now, perforce, inhabits.
And this, of course, is where the ACTLab comes in. A flap of this nature, pitting commercial behemoths wedded to obsolete business models against light, lithe, distributed, and densely connected networks of citizens with a deep sense of fairness and scant tolerance for greed, is ripe for theorizin'. Baudrillard, had he lived a bit longer, would have loved it as much as I do.
The MPAA, chastened but not deterred, has since shut up about suing people, and instead has returned to attempting to create the perfect unbreakable encryption scheme. Since this is impossible in any real-world scenario, I - and everyone else - await the next move. Whereupon the MPAA will again experience the power of a million angry DVD fans.
Sponsored by Nevada Humanities and the University of Nevada, the exhibition featured work by artists such as Deborah Aschheim and Lisa Mezzacappa, whose work absolutely floored me. The catalog says that "Phonological is an attempt to "back up" Deborah Aschheim's twenty-five favorite words by storing them in songs so that she will remember them in the event of possible future neurological damage or aphasia. In order to hopefully preserve it, Aschheim has to surrender her vocabulary to other people to interpret..." The pieces, which to my eye resemble clusters of neurons, glow eerily, and do, in fact, emit songs. The photo above shows a portion of the gallery area to which the staff added chairs and a table for my work, which, in this case, I did sitting down. The gallery videoed the work in HD, and if things go well there may be a DVD later; we'll see.
Handmaiden of the Antichrist
Jeez, guys. Flattered though I may be to be perceived as a world-class menace, I'm afraid the reality is far less flamboyant. While Sex Change 101 is an interesting idea, it doesn't exist -- there's a lot more basic work to be done simply by educating people about the social and cultural nature of gender and sexuality, and that work is already being done by people far more qualified than I. UT has an admirable program in Women's and Gender Studies (of which I'm a member), as well as a flourishing research group devoted to LBGT issues (whose meetings I hardly ever get to attend). Plus, there are several student support groups, whose value to the community is accentuated by occasional attempts to stamp them out. Nothing says success better than being attacked.
However, for those of you who may want to join in, we are making a limited number of Handmaiden of the Antichrist T-shirts available from CafePress. With each shirt you get a genuine Certificate of Authenticity, signed by Sandy Stone herself, and all the proceeds go to help one of the student support groups. Who needs to be attacked by lesbian separatists while you're simply trying to make women's music when you can be a Handmaiden in the comfort of your own home? Don't envy the handmaidens; be one!
Ceci n'est pas un blog
Well, the simple answer is: This is not a blog.
A blog is a fairly well-defined piece of software, cleanly written, incorporating simple means for creating content, syndication, and a mechanism for managing comments. It's clearly social software, as we currently understand the term, and a conduit for everything from the pithiness of Chomsky to the lone ranter shouting into the dark. (Don't discount shouting into the dark; it keeps the wolves away.)
I could fake it with a line at the bottom that says "Comments for this post are closed", and don't think I haven't entertained the idea. But on the other hand, you don't need me to tell you that the boundaries between this website and a blog are getting mighty porous. It started as an experiment, in the very early days of the web, when I had a few minutes left over from keeping the ACTLab site stable in spite of our enthusiastic students' trampling the bounds of reason and good code. These days it clearly has a life of its own. But it's just my website. It's not a blog.
None of those typescripts survived the last few moves, but the magazines in which they were originally published did. So recently I've been scanning some of the early stuff right out of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Galaxy and so forth, and putting them into digital form. Though it still needs a bit of cleaning, the first one, Thank God You're Alive, is on my Projects page. This is the sort of stuff one turns out at a tender age, so be gentle, gentle reader.
By the way, that image to the right is the only time I made Galaxy's cover. The illustration, by Gaughan, is for Farewell To The Artifacts, which I wrote on the venerable Olivetti and which I haven't finished scanning. The title in the box was supposed to be "Farewell To The Artifacts", too, but at the last minute they bought Robert Silverberg's "Dying Inside" -- so his title wound up gracing the illustration for my story. That's the writing game, folks.:)
in a lowfat, biodegradable package
Deviant Bodies Gallery Exhibition
Who is Sandy Stone, Anyway?
Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Senior Artist at the Banff Centre, Professor of New Media and Performance at the European Graduate School EGS, Artist, Performer, Author, Critic, Public Intellectual, Transgender, Wife, Mother, Drive-By Theoretician.
- Things to think about: Read my Teaching page first. Do you make stuff? Have a look at my current Projects (even though most of the links on that page are broken). To get a sense of who I am, kinda, read the FAQ. Also, it may be helpful to know that enrolling in the RTF department in order to work with me may not be the best idea; you might do better to take an interdisciplinary doctorate based in some other department and work with me from there, so first read Application Advice. To get a sense of how I teach and why my work is grounded in the semiotics of the design of the actlab studio, you might read Under The Radar.
RTF New Media Initiative
- New Media, eh? How about Digital Media, Digital Arts, Transmedia, MultiMedia, Convergent Media? Greetings, Hacker of the Old Code, she said, bowing gravely. All paths are One. And once again I remind you that in the ACTLab we've developed our own unique teaching and production methods for accomplishing the New Media (or your term of choice here: digital media, digital art, digital digital digital...) thing. Trust me, it's a good idea to read Under The Radar to grok what it is.
...And The Beast Has Ten Thousand Names
No foolin', the snowy landscape was actually shot in Austin, Texas...Live Snowbunny Capital of the World.
...and while we're on the subject, how in hell does everybody else in the sidereal universe find the time to keep their webpages updated? Is there a secret vault full of time that everybody else knows about, and simply goes to and dips out as much as they need?...