From a Native Daughter: Seeking Home and Ancestral Lines through a Dashboard Hula Gir

A. Mārata Ketekiri Tamaira

In the Hawaiian language the term ‘ae kai refers to the place where land and sea meet, the water’s edge or shoreline, the beach. It is, as Pacific historian Greg Dening has written, an “in-between space…an unresolved space where things can happen, where things can be made to happen. It is a space of transformation. It is a space of crossings.” This expanded definition of ‘ae kai serves as a cogent touchstone for examining Adrienne Keahi Pao’s and Robin Lasser’s most recent installation work Dashboard Hula Girl: In Search of Aunty Keahi, which featured in the Smithsonian’s Culture Lab exhibition ‘Ae Kai: A Culture Lab on Convergence in Honolulu, July 7–9, 2017. In the following writing, I invoke a sort of ‘ae kai of my own in which I merge scholarly analysis with visceral first-hand experience of Dashboard Hula Girl. The result, I hope, is a richly textured exposé that simulates in written form the enigmatic domain that comprises the convergence zone—that is, the ‘ae kai—of intellectual understanding and felt encounter.

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A. Mārata KetekiriTamaira is a Māori researcher/writer whose academic focus has been on contemporary Native Hawaiian and Pacific art. She also writes fiction and is currently working on her first novel, Toa’s Tree.

Harun Farocki, Serious Games III (Immersion) (Review)

Natasha Eves

Immersion is the third of four documentaries by Harun Farocki that explores the use of video games in the U.S. military. The first film demonstrates training software in which a young soldier called Watson is killed; the second, a live action role play training exercise; the third, virtual reality (VR) immersion therapy; and the final film compares these pre- and post-war simulated environments side by side. The demonstration of the virtual reality software Virtual Iraq employed in Farocki’s film Immersion will be reviewed here.

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Natasha Eves is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a postgraduate student in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is currently studying abroad at the California Institute of the Arts. Her research focuses on the political implications of mental health, collective practice, and care. In 2016-17, she was a Junior Fellow in the Art Department at Goldsmiths.Her art practice involves processes of knitting and weaving, embracing production errors and glitchaesthetics. She also co-hosts parties.

Happy Bullish 2011!!!: Olek’s Project B

Ingrid Asplund

Arturo Di Modica’s Charging Bull is imposing in scale. It is a model of muscular machismo and a popular tourist spot. It stands taller than most people in the middle of a very busy part of Manhattan, usually gleaming in the sun like a trophy of capitalist masculinity. Its scale is met with detail, as the Charging Bull features expressive eyes and eyebrows, a stance that exudes motion and energy, and a detailed musculature, from ribs to thighs. Very early Christmas morning (about three o’clock) in 2010, the artist Olek escaped from any potential sugar-plum fantasies and stole down to Wall Street to leave a Christmas gift for New York City. Olek had crocheted, by hand and without assistance, a covering for the Charging Bull, perhaps a sweater or a sort of “bull cozy” and installed it in the dead of night so as to avoid the authorities. She would later entitle this piece Project B (Wall Street Bull).

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Ingrid Asplund received her bachelor’s degree in History of Art from Bryn Mawr College in 2014. In the several years following her undergraduate study, she served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Ingrid is a Ph.D. student in the University of California, San Diego’s Art History, Theory, and Criticism program where she specializes in contemporary art, especially installations employing light,fiber art, and other experimental media. She enjoys volunteering as a doula, beekeeping, writing about faith and feminism, and trying out new shades of lipstick.

Glitching the State: The Mechanics of Resistance in Ricardo Piglia’s La Ciudad Ausente

Henry Osman

Torture is a storytelling device in that it attempts to (re)narrate and extricate the lives of others, often in the name of a potentially fallacious official memory. In the torture chamber, violence is posited as a search for knowledge whose veracity is not always necessary. States around the world have used torture to extract information and reaffirm their own narrative; due to this legacy of state violence, many post-trauma works aim to reveal the extent of the practice and the damage it causes as a form of resistance. This is particularly relevant to contemporary Argentina, where the legacy of state violence, particularly forced disappearances and torture during the military junta’s Dirty War (1976-1983), is still being dealt with in the public sphere and in institutions such as the Supreme Court, which last year controversially allowed the early release of hundreds of convicted human rights abuses.

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Henry Neim Osman is an M.A. student in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. His interests include surveillance, machine vision, and hapticality. He is currently finishing his thesis, “The Kiss of the Electron: Haptic Surveillance, Sensuous Governance and the Caress of the State.” He also works as an independent curator.

Endangered Data

Zachary Dean Norman

Following the 2016 election, information scientists, librarians, and laypeople began to backup or mirror publicly-available government datasets from institutions such as the EPA, NOAA, and NASA onto private servers and personal computers. This was done in response to the growing concern that data confirming the reality of anthropogenic global warming might be subject to manipulation, repression, or erasure by the current administration. Endangered Data represents an algorithm that can be used to preserve and transmit this vulnerable data by storing it within the pixels of digital images using an encryption method known as steganography. Encrypting the data within the pixels of images protects against attempts at manipulation or erasure. Because the data is hidden within images, it can also be transmitted surreptitiously and retrieved using a decryption algorithm. The steganography algorithm can be adjusted; the user has control over which pixels the data is stored within and how much the color of the pixels shifts. Inverting the premise of obscuring data, the user instead helps visualize the potentially catastrophic outcomes implied by the data itself, creating both metaphor and meaning through the image.

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Zachary Norman is a multi-disciplinary artist and educator interested in the production and role of images in contemporary culture. He is the co-founder of the art collective EIC, whose work has been exhibited and published extensively. In 2016, their publication, DELIBERATE OPERATIONS 3, was included in the Museum of Modern Art Library. He is the co-recipient of a New Frontiers Grant from Indiana University for his research on computational photography. Recent exhibitions of his work include Present Company (NYC), Chicago Expo (Chicago, IL), Aperture Foundation (NYC), Webber Gallery Space (London, UK) and Steinsland Berliner Gallery (Stockholm, Sweden).

Am I a Generalist or a Linguist? Or, How Relevant Are Emotions and Refracting Methodologies to the Academy? An interview with Joshua Nash

Joshua Nash, Leslie McShane Lodwick, and Maggie Wander

In his piece “Linguistic Spatial Violence: The Case of the Muslim Cameleers in the Australian Outback,” Joshua Nash utilizes innovative methodological approaches, spatial writing, and sensuous scholarship to explore the architectural and linguistic traces of Muslim cameleers crossing the Australian desert in the late 19th and early 20th century. Refract’s editorial board saw a unique opportunity to highlight interdisciplinary methodologies and diverse approaches to scholarship through an interview with Nash, who is currently Associate Professor at Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in Denmark. Editorial board members Leslie McShane Lodwick and Maggie Wander interviewed Nash in August 2018 to learn more about the methods he employed to write his contribution to this issue. The following is the result of the email exchanges between Nash, Lodwick, and Wander.

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Joshua Nash is an islophilic generalist-cum-linguist working on the language of Pitcairn Island. He writes about ethnography, the anthropology of religion, architecture, pilgrimage studies, and language documentation. He has conducted linguistic fieldwork on Pitcairn Island and Norfolk Island, the South Pacific, Kangaroo Island, SouthAustralia, and New Zealand; environmental and ethnographic fieldwork in Vrindavan, India; and architectural research in outback Australia. He is concerned with philosophical and ontological foundations of language and place.

Author acknowledges the assistance and comradery of Philip Jones, Yasmin Kassari, Md. Mizanur Rashid, and Peter Scriver during fieldwork in the South Australian outback in July 2014.

“Tool of Enlightenment”: The Dreamachine’s Effects for Individual Autonomy

Katie Oates

Brion Gysin (1916-1986) was an artist, poet, lyricist, linguist, musician, and performer, but first and foremost he was an experimenter and innovator. Spanning 1935 to 1986, his oeuvre illuminates his extreme interdisciplinarity, a quality that has granted him cult status in New York, Paris, and Tangier subcultures, such as the Beats. Though Gysin’s work has been exhibited worldwide, he is best known for inventing the Dreamachine—an apparatus that uses the flicker effect to produce visual hallucinations in the minds of its observers. He conceived of the machine after what he later discovered was the natural flicker effect from the sun. This occurred in 1958 while he was travelling by bus from Paris to the Mediterranean. As the setting sun shone through the branches and leaves of a tree-lined avenue, the fragmented rays of light, combined with the precise speed of the vehicle, produced flashes of light before him. He described the effect this created as: “An overwhelming flood of intensely bright patterns and supernatural colours exploded behind my eyelids: a multi-dimensional kaleidoscope whirling out through space. I was swept out of time.” The brief phenomenon that ended as abruptly as it began—as soon as the bus passed the line of trees—spawned Gysin’s determination to develop a machine that could reproduce the natural phenomenon “at the flick of a switch.”

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Katie Oates is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Western Ontario (London, Canada), where she also completed her M.A. in Art History. She earned her Honours B.A. at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada) in English and Art History. Katie’s current research explores histories and theories of photography as they intersect with American culture and literature, the archive, gender, and the operative and affective dimensions of photographs. Her work has been published in BeatdomLiterary Journal, Forest City Gallery’s (London, Canada) Digest, LondonFuse, and earned her the Western’s Caucus on Women’s Issues Essay Award.

Cough, Spit, Swallow

Mark Augustine and Joseph Carr

Culture is the beam of light flowing through the built environment and it is the medium that bends the stream of architecture and design. Cough, Spit, Swallow (2018) depicts three conventional sites of ritualized physical contact (intimacy) that have created unique, specialized, and broadly recognizable furniture: the exam table, the dental chair, and the glory hole. The work both satirizes conventional propriety and shows us a method of reading the messages inscribed in the seemingly mundane.

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Mark Augustine is a full-time faculty member in the First Year Experience at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He holds an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an M.A. in linguistics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research interests include gendered and sexed spaces, the built environments of intentional communities, post-colonial architecture, and the academic study of religious history. More of his work can be found at and on Instagram: marchitektur.

A filmmaker and multimedia designer working and teaching in Baltimore, Joseph Carr received an M.F.A. in Studio from the Department of Film, Video, New Media and Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His creative interests are in technical photography, scientific illustration, and documentary. For the past several years, he has taught first year courses in art, design, and art history at the Maryland Institute College of Art. More of his work can be found on Instagram: biopoiesis.

The Double Edge of Visibility and Invisibility: Cassils and Queer Exhaustion

Jamee Crusan

In attempting to understand the divisive power of gender and sexuality, one can begin by pointing out that certain genders have more social and political visibility than others. Feminist post-structuralist philosopher Judith Butler reminds us that only in the naming or recognition as boy or girl can we become viable. Butler says, “Desire is always a desire for recognition and […] it is only through the experience of recognition that any of us become constituted as socially viable beings.” To be viable, one must be recognized, and this battle for recognition within the power structures of gender and sexual identity catalyze queer exhaustion.

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Jamee Crusan graduated from the California College for the Arts in 2017 with an MFA in Studio Practice and an MA in Visual and Critical Studies and the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2013 with BFAs in both Photography and Graphic Design. Crusan’s interests combine materiality, process and a precise sense of craft, industrial labor, performance, and endurance. Crusan’s making and academic writing practices are inspired by life events and encompass queer exhaustion, queer theory, trauma studies, and loss.

In Conversation with Erick Msumanje and Alexis Hithe

Erick Msumanje, Alexis Hithe, and Kristen Laciste

Erick Msumanje’s short film, VOLTA VOLTA, and the accompanying artist statement, written by Alexis Hithe, reflect on the “ritual” and “digital” spaces experienced by Black bodies. Editorial board member Kristen Laciste had the privilege to interview Msumanje, who is currently a Film and Digital Media Ph.D. student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Hithe, an alumna of the Visual Arts program at the University of California, San Diego, and a collaborator with the collective, Lotus. Laciste asked them about their endeavor, particularly the film’s inspirations and the articulation of “ritual” and “digital.” Laciste interviewed Msumanje in person and Hithe via Skype and over the phone on June 14, 2018. The following is the result of the dialogue between Msumanje, Hithe, and Laciste.

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Erick Msumanjeis an award-winning hybrid filmmaker and visual artist. He holds a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of San Diego. His work primarily focuses on telling meditative and poetic stories that blur the lines between fiction and non-fiction. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student in the Film and Digital Media program atUniversity of California, Santa Cruz.

Story-making and history-telling, Alexis Hithe creates conceptual and experimental work that focuses on the Black experience and its imaginings. A graduate of University of California, San Diego’s Visual Arts program, Alexis draws inspiration from her childhood in the Mojave Desert of southern California and takes a non-traditional approach to filmmaking; she believes that truth emerges somewhere between doing and dreaming, and practices radical patience as a part of her art process.