I’m involved in a research project supporting the development of an episodic game about climate change, and we are looking for people involved in climate activism, research, and advocacy to participate in a focus group. For more details please see the full call for participants.
Purpose of the study The study is designed to understand what experts in climate science, game design and climate activism understand to be the priorities for climate change communication and action, and how these ideas might be brought to life through a live episodic online game.
What would this mean for you Taking part in this study would involve participating in a 60 minute online focus group held on Zoom. The focus group will be audio recorded. If you prefer, you may instead participate in a one-to-one interview.
Critical Distance, a non-profit I volunteer for on the board of directors, needs help. We have been archiving and contextualising online games writing for 13 years. We are asking for help to allow us to continue operating, and perhaps even invest in building longer term resilience. I’d be very grateful for any help spreading the word:
This is one of my favourite organisations in general, not just because I got to be their Senior Curator for a little while. While so much of the games industry is driven by cynical profit motives, and games academia suffers from the same exploitation and classism that affect the rest of the sector as a whole, Critical Distance is one of the few things that keeps me passionate and hopeful. There are only a handful of other organisations that provide this kind of bridge between academic writing and popular writing, and almost none that offer a space to signal boost and contextualise online writing outside the realm of algorithms and influencer bullshit.
Critical Distance is basically the reason I was able to become a games person at all – when I was first interested in writing a paper on game design, Critical Distance got me up to speed on the thinking in the field really fast. To this day, whenever I am starting research on any topic relating to games, Critical Distance is my first stop, and it provides a perspective that no other resource can. If you’ve appreciated anything I’ve said or written about games, media, or arts criticism, you’ve indirectly benefitted from Critical Distance’s work.
Last year I worked with Joey Eschrich on a collaborate writing event with Critical Distance, and we recently wrote an article about it that has just been published. Here we consider how the essay jam, and Critical Distance’s larger editorial structure, capture productive tensions in community-led, community-responsive publishing. We also suggest future directions for structuring collaborative writing activities, from figuring out incentives for participating authors to creating a culture of dialogue around drafts and ideas in progress.
I wrote a short essay in the “Science Fiction Frames” format for Arizona State University Centre for Science and the Imagination’s newsletter Imaginary Papers. Building on a presentation I gave a few years ago, it’s a discussion of how speculative wearable devices support the narrative of Simon Amstell’s 2017 mockumentary Carnage, including a quick comparison with Donna Haraway’s Camille Stories.
Fun side-note: until I rewatched Carnage, I have completely forgotten that Amstell had actually anticipated a global pandemic and written it into the timeline that leads up to a utopian future society where animal exploitation has ended. His thinking was that a zoonotic virus would challenge us to reconsider the harms caused by intensive agriculture, and lead to new laws banning the worst excesses of the industry. Why that didn’t happen in our timeline is a question that would probably take a lot of unpacking.
An installation of Interactive Portraits: Trans People in Japan will be hosted at BitBash Chicago’s event on 12th November as part of the Chicao Humanities Festival. This is the afterparty for The Social Mind, an afternoon of talks and discussion on big tech, algorithms, and mental health, created in partnership with The Verge. Find out more and get tickets from the Chicago Humanities Festival website.
Cis Penance is on display this weekend at Heart Projector’s pop-up arcade at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. This is part of the Games in Action conference, the largest event organized on UBC campus focused on video games and their impacts on our social and political world. I can’t be there in person, but I will be attending the conference virtually online. For more details see https://gamesinaction.squarespace.com/
This year I’ve had the pleasure of doing a little project with Raju Rage and Studio Voltaire, creating a web experience for their online archive of transgender health resources. They launched it this week, and you can check it out at desperatelivin.com.
They reached out to commission this after they had included Cis Penance in an online exhibition. Since their archive includes a lot of zines and artist-made publications, the rough DIY aesthetic of Cis Penance felt like a good fit. As well as thinking about how to make a website feel tactile, like a zine table in a community space, I was also thinking about Olia Lialina’s 1996 net art piece My Boyfriend Came Back From The War, which kind of feels like it sits at this intersection between personal memories and the structuring institutions of the state. I approached this project considering about how I might make something similar today using the kind of web coding that I’m more familiar with, while ensuring that the code is accessible to others who want to add more material in the future, without using a CMS.
The site is hosted on Neocities, which is a platform for hand-built, DIY websites that often have a retro aesthetic. If you’re a Neocities user, you can follow the site to see future updates. It’s such a delight to be asked to make something by people who are down with this kind of lo-fi “yesterweb” approach. It’s pretty liberating to make a web site that won’t have any pop-ups asking users to consent to cookies, isn’t built with proprietary tools that will be deprecated in the future, etc. The ethos of Neocities is about building community through self-made, low-cost pieces of media art, which seems pretty zine-like to me.
Massive thanks to Studio Voltaire for trusting me and going along with this unconventional way of commissioning and building a website! It’s a huge honour to play a part in a project that aims to contribute to ongoing access to community care for transgender people.
A quick note that my book Delay: Paying Attention to Energy Mechanics is in the itch.io Bundle for Ukraine, which has already raised $5.5 million for the charities International Medical Corps and Voices of Children. The bundle includes content from 736 creators, making it an incredible way to get hold of a huge collection of indie games and other material hosted on itch.io, while supporting charities responding under the horrifying conditions of Russia’s senseless war. Please give it your support:
I’m delighted to share that I’m one of a number of artists receiving support from Sheffield Theatres for the next year as part of the Bank Cohort! I’ll be building on some of the work I did last year, and trying out some new ideas, as well as finding new ways to do fun things with theatre and games. I’m incredibly pleased, and very uplifted by the warmth and openness of the folks at Sheffield Theatres. Huge thanks!
The Bank is a dedicated hub for talent development; this is the second cohort to be supported by Sheffield Theatres.
The artists will be offered bespoke support, training, artistic opportunities and professional development. The three directors are: Callum Berridge, Shreya Patel and Alexandra Whiteley, who will enjoy a host of opportunities including working as an assistant director on a Sheffield Theatres’ production. The three producers are: Beck Gadsby, Lydia Harrison and Katrina Woolley, who will receive mentoring, as well as seed funding to develop an idea, event or production using The Bank as their base, drawing on the support of the producing team at Sheffield Theatres. The three writers are: Nicole Joseph, Jasmin Mandi-Ghomi and Chloe Wade, who will benefit from masterclasses and mentoring as well as having the opportunity to undertake a research and development process with their writing. The four remaining artists each work in different theatre-based disciplines: Tommo Fowler is a dramaturg, Jennifer Jackson is a theatre maker and movement director / choreographer, Jose Guillermo Puello is a sound designer / composer and Zoyander Street is an artist-researcher and theatre maker. They will all receive tailored support in their fields.
I’m excited to be in conversation with Caroline Sinders this Saturday at Site Gallery, in the final event of their Digital Residency. Caroline’s art research practice addresses the potentials and injustices of tech, with a focus on exploring liberatory alternatives to the extractive big data industry. Sign up here.
Also, earlier that day, I’ll be hosting another in-conversation event at Typeset, between author Tair Rafiq and Dr. David Hartley, co-founder of the Narratives of Neurodiversity Network. Find out more and get a free ticket (in person or online) here.
Site Gallery, Sheffield, S1 2BS
Sat 4th December 2021
For the final event in the Feminist Data Set workshop series with digital resident Caroline Sinders, we are pleased to welcome Caroline to Sheffield for a special in-person event at Site Gallery.
Since July, Caroline has been working with Site Gallery to bring new voices to the Feminist Data Set project, through online workshops with Site Gallery audiences and discussion sessions with a selection of special international guest speakers. For this session, Caroline is joined by Rotherham-based artist Zoyander Street, who will share insights into their own research and practices and how they intersect with the interests of Feminist Data Set.
Feminist Data Set is a multi-year project that interrogates every step of the AI process that includes data collection, data labeling, data training, selecting an algorithm to use, the algorithmic model, and then designing how the model is then placed into a chat bot (and what the chatbot looks like). Every step exists to question and analyze the pipeline of creating using machine learning—is each step feminist, is it intersectional, does each step have bias and how can that bias be removed?