In Conversation with Candlelyte.C

Trying to remember the first time I met Chloe only gives me blurs of the many social occasions we have been at in the past year I have known her. Chloe is an up-and-coming trans model and DJ, with an honest Instagram tagline – ‘not your natural redhead’. I initially was not able to pinpoint the level of magnetism I had towards her until she replied “I was lucky enough to come into my current position fully self-realised”, and adds a side note “as much as you can be”, in response to my question regarding day-to-day professional and social experiences. Being queer is embodying damage and through ‘addressing power and affect’ will we ‘arrive at a way of rendering love knowable that will make us mindful of its critical value in building a fuller account of gender and sexual relations on the continent of inequalities’ (Bhana 2013, p. 4). Chloe speaks about her initial openness as a child that was then policed into the “pigeonhole of gay” as the “best possible coping mechanism” to be deemed with some acceptability before moving out to have the “slow and agonising” space to process her experiences and emotions of gender transgressions in “almost trial and error”. A wounding narrative of being brave is given to us who are gender non-conforming by the same society that enacts those forms of violence and hate, which emphasises the additional survival need to educate ourselves and be in constant self-reflection. Gender roles are socially constructed and the dysphoria transgender individuals face demonstrates that they can be ‘transgressed, combined or even ignored’ (Melendez & Pinto 2007, p. 235).

When Alok Vaid-Menon recites in his poem Reincarnation,there’s this thing that happens when you call someone a father he ceases to be a person, instead becomes the punch line for everything that you hate about yourself, they allude to the deep-rooted patriarchal, white, colonial belief system that has entrapped all of us (2016). In speaking about the common mainstream narrative used to understand trans bodies as being trapped in the wrong body, Chloe feels this understanding is “harmful and misguided” as it suggests self-hate and the need to pass as what society believes as female and male when “very little in trans discourse … is one size fits all”. This reinforces Tonkinwise’s idea that we ‘neglect cultural difference’ by being under the ‘assumption … that we are all at one singular point in time, the apex of the cones from which all possible futures narrowly extend’ (2014, p. 6).

In Sean’s post, he suggests the need of human empathy and the practical side of love tends to be forgotten, as we all want to believe in an intuitive nature when we are also very much procedural and where love can be knowledge and a skill to be learned. For the better wellbeing of the gender non-conforming spectrum, Chloe sees “discussing gender openly” within the education system “we would see so much change … generation by generation”. Systemic vulnerability ‘associated with discrimination, marginalisation and disenfranchisement’ is due to a ‘lack of resources and increased risk’ (Grossman & D’Augelli 2006, p. 113). As Cher sings in her anthem Believe, “do you believe in life after love”, I do believe and trust in life outside of romantic love.

 

Bhana, D. 2013, ‘Introducing love: gender, sexuality and power’, Agenda, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 3-11

Grossman, A. H. & D’Augelli, A. R. 2006, ‘Transgender Youth’, Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 51, No. 1, pp. 111-128

Melendez, R. M. & Pinto, P. 2007, ‘’It’s really a hard life’: Love, gender and HIV risk among male‐to‐female transgender persons’, Culture, Health & Sexuality, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 233-245

The Laura Flanders Show 2016, Reincarnation: Alok Vaid-Menon, videorecording, Youtube, viewed 28 October 2016, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc0i77e8nJs>

Tonkinwise, C. 2014, How We Future: Review of Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby, Carnegie Mellon University, USA

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Too Social

Nosedive, the first episode to the just released third season of Black Mirror, is your post-high school Mean Girls amplified by your Instagram attached with a ratings system. The scenario proposed by the episode uses a ‘deconstructive methodology’ to ‘undercut’ existing yet ‘unexamined foundations of thought’ about how we embrace the same social hierarchy we enforce and are entrapped by (Fry 2009, p. 154). We are introduced to a dark narrative as the protagonist, Lacie, practices her laughter in front of her bathroom mirror while her eyes implanted with microchips display her 4.2 rating, we start to self-reflect on our social interactions and the façade we have built for ourselves that is both our weapon and defence. A future of pristine suburban homes and white picket fences places domesticity and familial values at a high influence of social currency that we later see epitomised by the idea of luxurious limited edition domestic living tied to memberships and discounts based on ratings.

Dunne & Raby reinforce the idea of darkness as the ‘cautionary tale’ to ‘naïve techno-utopianism’ where we tend to in design ‘view people as obedient and predictable users and consumers’ (2013, p. 38). Through elevating the intensity of current social media to a scale of idealising those with higher ratings who also have a more influential quality when rating creates a numbers game that measures and polices sociability. Our innocent intentions of photo uploads become a forceful element in order to promote one’s status and eating becomes distinctly linked to aesthetics for social broadcasting where personal, physical enjoyment is determined by others’ approval. This injects a nurturing of behaviour to project, predict and plan your own future through socialisation, which is embodied by the “Reputelligent” institution in the episode that provides services to graph popularity arcs, inner circles and outer peripherals, and stranger interactions, and then personalises strategy based on rating goals. A question to be asked is whether in any way could forced sociability be beneficial in human interaction?

The motion picture, Her, further expands to the dark spaces of intimacy and with the use of AI, comments on how do we assess our behaviour and make the distinctions between the human to technology ratio especially when technology are the product of us as humans. Esther Perel in Helen Fisher’s Ted talk suggests ‘a vocabulary creates a new reality’ in the sense that a change in the nature of approach forms new values and she invites conversation about ‘when the context changes does the nature of love change’ (2016). Portraying intertwined social and economic ladders, and traditional gender elements through colour and wedding idealisation, Nosedive begs of us to re-examine how we comprehend love in terms of appreciation, value and meaning, most of all ‘does love require belief that the beloved is good’ (John 2013, p. 286). Furthermore, the emphasis on socialisation provides a lens to investigate personal and social value in the tactile sensitivity, mentioned in Jade’s post, of physical interactions. In sci-fi scenarios, the relationship between humanity and technology tend are inherently problematic to highlight the potential tensions and present ‘technology as a powerful force that both controls and liberates people’ (Campbell 2016, p. 3).

 

Campbell, H. A. 2016 ‘Problematizing the Human-Technology Relationship through Techno-Spiritual Myths Presented in The Machine, Transcendence and Her’, Journal of Religion & Film, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 1-28

Dunne, A. & Raby, F. 2013, ‘Design as Critique,’ in Speculate Everything, MIT Press, Cambridge, pp. 33-46.

Fisher, F. 2016, Technology hasn’t changed love. Here’s why, Ted, viewed on 27 October 2016, <https://www.ted.com/talks/helen_fisher_technology_hasn_t_changed_love_here_s_why#t-1133264>

Fry, T. 2009, ‘Methods of Change 2: Designing in Time’, Design futuring : sustainability, ethics and new practice, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, NSW, pp. 145-155.

Her 2014, motion picture, Warner Bros. Pictures, USA

John, E. 2013, ‘Love and the need for comprehension’, Philosophical Explorations, Vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 285-297

Nosedive 2016, television program, Black Mirror, Netflix, USA, 21 October

Fuck with ourselves.

When Banks vocally contorts in the chorus of Fuck With Myself, “cause I fuck with myself more than anybody else”, I wholeheartedly believe Nick Keys when he suggests musicians to be our contemporary love theorists in a very digestible form. This sense of self-awareness in Banks’ song recognises we entrap ourselves and are our own psychological bullies, which resonates in our smitten relationship with contemporary technology as our proxy. The charged yet unspoken familiar feelings around loneliness and intimacy is central to changing our psyche where being alone is somehow a problem that needs solving. We use ‘confessions in the digital world’ as a ‘means for people to understand themselves and others, for constructing gender identity, the practices of men and women and emotional relationships’ (Yang 2014, p. 101). There is an irony to the title of Banks’ latest album, The Altar, associating the notion of love to one that is idealised, sacrificial and pure, however, breaking down these culturally given ideas with each song is her confession.

Our interactions with technology have left us with a degree of inability, what Sherry Turkle in her Ted talk regards as ‘cultivating the capacity for solitude’, where we turn to other people to feel less anxious and to feel alive (2012). This leads us to create our own illusion that subconsciously uses people as spare parts to support our fragile sense of self instead of recognising the vulnerability in our flaws. Banks in Gemini Feed vocalises “and to think you would get me to the altar … if you would’ve let me grow, you could’ve kept my love”, tackling our yearning for genuine love rather than the emotionally manipulative relationship we tend to find ourselves in as we constantly negotiate the terms of companionship. She continues to reiterate in Weaker Girl – “tell ’em you were mad about the way I grew strong … I think you need a weaker girl” –  the heteronormative ‘operations of gender power’ in an intimate relationship and by disclosing it in her music maintains an ‘individual subjectivity’ to break the dominant mould (Yang 2014, p. 97).

We tend to experience ‘pretend empathy’ as social technology takes on a role of ‘automatic listening’ by providing the feeling of being understood so we come to expect more from technology than each other, we are given ‘comfortable control’ where we put attention where we want it expecting to always be heard and never have to be alone (Turkle 2012). The concept of technology has ‘always related to humans’, an equation that displays ‘non-neutral transformational possibilities’ in every way we make use of it and contemporarily have we seen greater amplification and magnification (Ihde 1993, p. 53).Writing Mother Earth after coming out of depression and her sister gives birth to a baby girl, Banks echoes the power of confession in our digital age where speaking our struggles as a wounded healer is powerful. Salvatore in his post reaffirms music to be the principle discourse of love that triggers discussion and is our therapy, seeing as we all have such a high metabolism for it.

Banks 2016, The Altar, album, Harvest Records, California, USA.

Ihde, D. 1993, ‘Technology’, Philosophy of Technology: An Introduction, New York: Paragon House, pp.47-64

Turkle, S. 2012, Connected, but alone?, Ted, viewed on 27 October 2016, <https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together?language=en&gt;

Yang, H. 2014, ‘Young People’s Friendship and Love Relationships and Technology: New Practices of Intimacy and Rethinking Feminism’, Asian Journal of Women’s Studies, vol .20, no. 1, pp. 93-124

 

 

Visualisation: ORB

Orb Iterations


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/184939780″>ORB_1</a&gt; from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user50575880″>Jade Hon-Mong</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/184939779″>ORB_2</a&gt; from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user50575880″>Jade Hon-Mong</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/184939777″>ORB_3</a&gt; from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user50575880″>Jade Hon-Mong</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/184939781″>ORB_5</a&gt; from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user50575880″>Jade Hon-Mong</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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