Sandy Stone's RSS feed: ragged, but improving

Handmaiden of the Antichrist

I've found my calling in life

Not long ago a group from a well-known university in the Dallas vicinity toured the campus here. As they passed our corner of the academic vineyard, one of them asked what building it was. When the docent told him, he gasped, "Isn't that where Sandy Stone works? She teaches young children to change their sex. She is a 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, is it? I get a lot of email from people who say something like "Why can't I post a response to your 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.)

On the other hand, this website is a steaming hunk of bricolage, originally written in HTML, to which I later added (ghasp!) tables, then (doubleghasp!) frames, then a CSS skeleton I got from Gila years ago, with more hunks of html and xml and javascript stuck on as occasion required. You can see the content change; less obviously, the underlying code also changes, as befits the website of someone teaching a course called Extreme Freestyle Hacking. But blogging? I never intended to add any code to enable people to post comments.

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.


Science Fiction

From my typewriter (sic!) to you

Yes, I did actually write all of my early stuff on a lovely old Olivetti. And after the Olivetti, for a time there was an IBM Selectric. It wasn't until the second draft of Ktahmet/Memory that I got my hungry li'l hands on a borrowed Kaypro "portable" computer. It looked like a sewing machine and weighed about twenty pounds, but it was a stable beast, and with the help of Mark of the Unicorn's Final Word I finally entered the XXth Century.

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.:)


Everything a professor should be, in a lowfat, biodegradable package

Professor? Me? Hmmm... I can still remember standing on a streetcorner in, um, Madrid I think it was, with Brenda Laurel and Rob Tow and maybe Atau Tanaka, when we realized that we were all fully employed at the same time -- which had never happened before. Felt weird. I was a theoretician; they all had real jobs. Anyway, enough woolgathering. Welcome to my new web pages. That's me on the left. Well, sorta. Actually that's more like me up there at the top. After years of insisting that my students produce kickass web sites while I went on hand-coding absolute dirt-basic HTML for myself, I realized it was time to give in to XHTML and CSS. So the children of the cobbler may still not have Flash, but at least they aren't embarrassingly barefoot. Still, no matter how hard I try, unless I devote something like a year to this site it's inevitably gonna be ragged. A lot of links still don't work, and all I can say is oops. So please bear with the rough edges while I and my students are off devoting our energy to a far more noble pursuit: Designing a device which converts human stupidity into clean-burning fuel.

Deviant Bodies Gallery Exhibition

Artists exploring the margins of gender and representation

As it says up there, Deviant Bodies is a groundbreaking exhibition exploring the margins of gender and representation. We don't often see these at mainstream galleries, and the event is further remarkable in bringing together such a large group of talented artists who have all focused their efforts on this topic. The event, which is sponsored by a generous grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation, runs from September 29 through December 17 at the CEPA Gallery ( 617 Main Street, Buffalo, New York). Yours Sincerely was honored to have been asked to participate, and is represented in the exhibition by two installation works: Trapped and Simple Identity. That's a still from Simple Identity at the left. As usual with my stuff, Trapped didn't fit into any of the preexisting categories for submitted work, but the nice folks at CEPA were kind enough to find ways to accommodate it.


Changing the world one swarm at a time

ACTLabTV is a cutting-edge New Media project developed entirely by actlab students. During the summer of 2006, through the good offices of the RTF New Media Initiative, the ACTLabTV folks participated in the Google Summer of Code, during which they were able to extend the project in some very interesting ways. The basic idea behind ACTLabTV is that with the right software you don't need broadband to broadcast video on the Web -- anyone with internet access, even a simple dialup connection, can be a videocasting station. In technical terms, the system is distributed, acephalous, and format-agnostic, which is to say that it's part of the rapidly growing family of online social architectures such as Flickr, Wikipedia, and YouTube, but different in that in the ACTLabTV architecture there is no central server, and consequently no single point of failure. I don't really have to pump Joseph Lopez and Brandon Wiley's accomplishments... they're changing the world just fine on their own. Just in case you haven't discovered the greatest advance in Web video technology since sliced challah, have a peek here.

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.

Thinking of coming to UT to work with me?

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

Try new things, take risks, amaze us!

Five years in the making, the department of Radio-Television-Film New Media Initiative formalizes a central part of the ACTLab mission in a department-friendly package offering "a range of exciting courses, projects, and events for students interested in learning the latest developments in modes of communication and artistic expression." The statement on the "About Us" page reads: "We are a group of students and faculty from many areas and disciplines with a common goal: To create vital, vibrant, and innovative New Media courses and research which are flexible, open to change, and extend their horizons through rich interactions between our students and faculty and the greater New Media culture at institutions worldwide. Our goal is to produce star graduates with portfolios of radically new work and with the confidence to become leaders in this ever-changing field." Yes, indeed. To apply to the Initiative, email me, Joseph Lopez, or the Initiative. Don't apply via the RTF advisors. People who apply via the RTF advisors wind up futilely running through mazes with lots of dead ends. Use the direct approach. And to better understand our unconventional approach to New Media education, read Under The Radar.

...And The Beast Has Ten Thousand Names

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.

On Tour

Apologies, I haven't kept up with reporting on all the wonderful places New Media-fu happens because our efforts have been going into building an affiliated web site which will be released very soon. There are only so many hours in a day. I did mount a new performance in March 2006, which I'm currently touring; the ACTLab Student Media Services Under The Radar Film Festival was terrific; and there's SXSW 2006 to recover from, so it's not as if nothing's happening...

...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?...