Conversation

I
13 September 2016
Dear Kate,
I'm excited to think through the topics of feminist play, queer time, and material memory with you! I feel particularly lucky that J introduced us that 4th of July. It was a really amazing moment.

I kind of wanted to start with a question about the opposition of work and play that I feel I was gleaning from your text on your performance piece. I wonder about this partly because it's a problem for labor theorists who critique the tendency of capital to husband our affective labor in the workplace. It's also work that signifies as human because it's connected to social interaction, care, and creativity. The conflation of work and play (labor and joy?) are problematic as they deplete the "worker" or the one upon whom the imperative to perform play (in the form of problem-solving, generation of creative ideas, and getting along with the "team"). If we're thinking about how to critically engage this particular problem (or at least I feel like I am always wondering how to slip aside from the life-sucking imperative to perform affectively in the workplace), is the only option resistance to that conflation -- that is to say, does it become important to re-substantiate the opposition between labor and play?

I guess that sort of ties into the question of feminine work (i.e., domestic or frivolous, caring or friendly/accommodating) and how we might be re-categorizing that, what we have to say about those kinds of categories, and what kinds of re-imaginings are going on in that type of labor in your piece. Your consideration with R.  of Mrs. Dalloway is wonderful. Clarissa goes about the job of planning her party, about which she is ambivalent, all the while considering what she has lost by making the choices she has that have brought her to the moment of the book’s time. As if ...

I think this is a particularly modernist dilemma that while a great point of reference is perhaps a bit different from what you're puzzling through in the work you're doing. For example, even while surrounded by all the tropes of The Mother's party (crepe streamers, cake, plastic table cloths) these things are transformed into crazy, emergent matter by virtue of the way they are un-hung, taken down, burning, etc. Even you are a sort of ambiguously "feminine" presence in only one layer with your gray oxfords and your short hair. The uncertainty is what's more interesting to me. It's as if you are remembering for someone else (not yourself as in Clarissa's case) and thus the labor/play dichotomy becomes more tense as there is no efficiency to your labor and perhaps only meditative joy (as opposed to the seemingly ecstatic joy of the partiers who loll about in the other screens and the Periscopers who "play" the partiers like avatars in a video game). I'm not sure what the real question is buried under all that observation. I am wondering about work and fun though -- pleasure and exigency – the possibility of redemption through pure, a-productive joy. Any thoughts?

Yours warmly,
April
 
II
September 12, 2016
Dear April,
There is so much I want to respond to in this - thank you for the excellent prompts, I am excited to have this conversation. 
Does it become important to re-substantiate the opposition between labor and play? I have been asking myself a not dissimilar question, which came up for me even in trying to plan the performance. By looking through the lens of play, it is work that seemingly emerges.

I love that you called the party decorations “crazy emergent matter” -  but I was actually hyper-aware of them as material that had labor (likely unfair, inadequately compensated) behind them. In putting on the performance it was the inescapability of work that was emphasized for me. I almost wonder if the question couldn’t be reversed, how has the division of play and work changed our relationship to work, and privileged certain kinds of labor? How has our relationship to the body, to the material, shaped how we value labor, and in pursuit of that value discounted the value of play? I don’t mean to avoid your question, but rather the more I tried to consider rather affective labor should be separated out, the more I wondered if it’s re-introduction, delineated and forced application - might instead point to a prior pruning and lame attempt to graft play back. Work that is genuinely a balanced integration of work and play is by definition so dependent on the individual subjectivity that it may frustrate categorization itself. It may mean a different kind of labor and play every day, inefficient by economic models, though by other models highly satisfying. If the worker has to “perform” play, perhaps it is worth thinking about how the definition of play can withstand this outside obligation? According to many play theorists, including Huizenga, Peirce, and Callios, play is by definition freedom and liberty.  

If it were happening in a childhood setting, forced or coerced play would be seen as bullying, not teamwork. We know children who play games unwillingly - but even as children we categorize this as unwilling labor, dragging along emotionally even when forced to make our bodies participate. Or perhaps the problem even derives from the ludic agon play from the perspective that controls the worker, which only sees the worker as a game piece to be played. Is play and work only possible when one has total autonomy in one’s work - how much agency is necessary for play to be possible? And therefore, to circle back, as a woman who is only afforded certain agency, is play possible for us? Was my performance “work" because of my gender? Am I ever able to experience pure play in this body or am I trapped performing affective labor indefinitely? 

The piece is a performance that both asks this question, and may be an answer itself. I have made this work, which in theory can stand in the world (as play embodied and contained as art). This piece is a moment of privilege, a release from invisible feminine labor as my grandmother and mother performed it, affirming my agency, while being so firmly embedded with labor, and constructed purely of labor, that its inescapability is all that is visible (even while I seem to have escaped it).

The multiple truths of labor and play that confound localization prompt me to consider the borders, the time and space that they can both occupy and escape in the same subject at any moment. I play within the boundaries of freedoms I have been given. Some of the boundaries extend into my internal life from outside. (Figuring out their borders may happen only through play.) This question of boundaries is what connects for me to Mrs. Dalloway. I think that you are right that there is something more happening - but the conflation of time, the way that multiple truths (and times) can be present at once is something I am very interested in, and which, as a woman, seems to relate to the agency of a subject in an especially interesting way.

Mrs. Dalloway’s social obligation is to demonstrate, host, one action or truth - while harboring her own internal truth at all moments. It is her social obligation to constantly negotiate this level of multiplicity - especially at a party. She clearly works at putting on the gathering, but her mind enters a sort of reverie that might be more related to play than work. As she narrates the arrival of the partygoers we experience the different time spaces she is reliving, while simultaneously she is present for her guests.

I think your recognition of my physical presence while cleaning up the party performance as being less feminine is important. During the party, the labor I am doing is also for the benefit of the guests, the event as a social moment. I dressed like a tablecloth or wallpaper for the party. But the cleaning up is harder to pin down. When it is enacted in a video it challenges the viewer to consider rather I am pretending (playing) for the camera or not. It looks like work, but in the art making may also be a performance. The videos that are projected into the room as I clean are the same videos from the party performance itself: YouTube party videos virtually unwatched with only a few if any views. Much as we might ask for whom are those videos made, the viewer might also ask for whom am I cleaning up? For whom is the video of the cleaning? Who is all my work actually for?

Here is where the multiple screens present behind me, emphasizing the documentation as it is happening seem to become an important part of this question. The preservation of my work as documentation may privileges it above the work of the housewife’s party which only serves as a temporary backdrop in photos and is quickly disassembled, at least in theory. The limit to the audience that is assumed when one is making art is universal, and timeless in scale, while a children’s birthday is valued perhaps for nostalgia, and appreciated by someone who has a connection to the event, but unlikely to be valued by a larger audience art in the realm in which it travels and is seen. But how does this transference of play (and work) into media change it? For me, the documentation of the performance is my play. I have found this space, the agency it affords me most pleasurable to my experience of almost any situation - to record it, document it, is to play with its presentation through my lens.  

The camera is a way to escape my feminine body and experience situations free of the obligations of my gender. Though limited in other ways, the image on the screen is often filtered of gender when addressing the camera (non-gendered defaulting perhaps masculine in our current culture) Periscope is also an oddly gendered play space. The person on screen is visible, but those people tuning in, playing with those broadcasting, are avatars not necessarily of a gender - while the icon that is available as a non-verbal response to the screen is a heart that excessively proliferates when the screen is touched and thus seemingly genders the whole image extremely feminine. It is pretty incredible. 

I want to return to your question of emergent matter because it feels related to the making of images, the composing that I see as related to how I play - what makes this a conflation of labor and play maybe situated in the camera - and those things that are happening entirely for the camera. I wonder if making images might be a way to escape the limits gender places on play? Is making images one of the rare chances to exercise freedom? When we choose to make images, take pictures, record video in our daily lives, it is almost exclusively of play, ritual, performance - the things we do to connect us socially across time. This makes me think about how our current cultural desire to document, preserve, make everything into a memory may be related to our desire to escape the reality of capitalist, soul destroying work in a new way. Are we working so much that we try to expand the time of play through excessively documenting it?

This question might seem to lead us astray - but I do think that the relationship of work/play to documentation is interesting. I also think there has been a recent spate of shows in LA that is focused on practices that are about categorization, documentation, making the play of art look a lot like work. The Hammer “Made in LA” show is a great example - so many practices were taking this approach that the exhibition seemed almost encyclopedic. 

I want to look back on a couple of things and maybe clarify some definitions or work and play for the sake of clarifying discussion. I think I will do that tonight if that is interesting to you.

Best, 
Kate 

III
14 September 2016
Dear Kate,

Thank you so much for your deeply thoughtful response. I think we're tamping down the same dense grasslands in our attempts to forge some kind of alternative paths around play and embodiment. These questions about forced play are some of what I touch on in my work on collaboration, which is perhaps one of the most ubiquitous and dread forms that coercive "play" (in the name of teamwork and creative problem-solving) in place across a range of institutional settings. As a practice, collaboration is entirely fraught, even when one believes (as I do) that it holds some kind of untapped promise. I have been committed to this sort of play in a rigorous way for many years and as a result have, sadly, alienated some of my most beloved friends. On the other hand, collaboration has made possible some of my most enduring and solid friendships, ones that continue to engage in various types of shared creative labor. I wonder if the faultiness of collaboration as a practice is what makes it so appealing to me as the risk that the participants take in agreeing to participate is the key aspect that makes any kind of emergence possible (if not always attainable).

I believe you are right that separating the notion of work and play is highly problematic. When our friend J posed me the question about precedents for feminist play, my response was "feminists don't play! We're too busy working and being serious about the job at hand, and besides play equals frivolity when it is read through the (inescapable?) lens of gender." Even as we try, culturally in another form of shared labor, to reassess gender categorization, we carry this backpack of rocks with us that dubs cleaning and hosting and sharing as "feminine" labor that becomes so difficult to categorize differently, or more desirably, to slip aside from categorizing at all. That said, I have been thinking a lot about what it might be for me to play -- when even things that are "fun" or pleasurable for me are often (always?) exercised in service to creative, affective, or embodied labor. So then what might play comprise if it were a-productive? Loafing, for example, seems so indulgent but perhaps it is an activity that would serve (labor) to open the space of work to the space of play and thus transform them both, or at least move them away from oppositional positions. Sadly, it seems that every phrase turned in this kind of discussion always leads back to some form of productivity. 

I was going back through Foucault's essays on subjectivity and was especially fixated on the discussion of the Enlightenment in his piece that reassesses Kant's short newspaper article on the topic. At the end of that response, Foucault makes the point that our real "job" as creatures of the Enlightenment is to continually assess our own histories especially in relation to the way power functions and wonder at our response and then perhaps to act in one way or another and then to assess again, a labored care of the self that understands its position within power structures at the same time it plays with what that position might be at any given moment (more of a process I suppose than a position).
Perhaps this is a just way to play and labor -- the pragmatics of which might be making documents of performances that replay another's labor at hosting a party, which at a certain time and place seems to be the only exercise of agency available to a woman living in a culture highly determined by masculine structures (military bases and timekeeping, for example). This kind of circular assessing is the work we do somewhat naturally, fueled by studies that encourage and reward critical thinking-doing-being, and could in fact be a-productive, if we consider Foucault's demise as one result brought about by play exercised without concern for outcomes. And again, I find with Foucault that circularity can also be a way of navigating a complicated maze where openings emerge based on choices that arise from unexpected moves executed in a game of love, creativity, and expression, a game where the rules change continually and the boundaries are porous.

The fascination we share with simultaneity and how to render it visible is a play with/of time of which I will never tire. Your layering of screens and actors in the document of your piece is such a great moment of this kind of strange time emerging. In fact, I couldn't really tell if you were cleaning up after the party or setting up before. This ebb between past and future/present is so hard to articulate and I think you did a beautiful job of it. Then complicating it through the Periscope interface that gets re-rendered in the document as a kind of translucent layer of commentary, which seems obtuse and yet comprehensible, is brilliant.

One of many ways that particular activity "plays" has to do, for me, with how it deploys a very frightening platform for expression. The app's tag line is "Periscope lets you explore the world through the eyes of someone else." I suppose that assurance holds a lot of promise for some, those who might not be bold enough to venture out and explore on the "meat" level, but it also sounds highly provocative in the way it includes appropriating the body of another, like a parasite, and anonymously meting out hearts of appreciation or criticism in the form of comments that might steer the "scoper" in this direction or that. The layers of embodiment and exchange are oddly exciting and horrifying -- perhaps the most interesting things always are. The tension between the two states of ecstatic experience take me back to the question of agency, usually located in the body of the individual. If bodies are shared in this strange, virtual exchange, where the activity moves beyond the mere moment-to-moment, comment-oriented exchange provided by Twitter, does it start to play with what gender can be even beyond the current conversations located in transforming the individual body among genders or even working to describe gender beyond the binary (thinking of Facebook's 60-some choices for gender description in their profile list). What happens when gendered bodies become momentarily muddled (rather than conflated) via a networked connection and what kind of play can occur beyond the scope of the power to act upon the body of the other with which we are so familiar? (Maybe that's far off topic, but it's so very early in the morning and I may not be entirely grounded in the singular body that I usually call my own just yet).

I have more to say about emergent matter, but maybe this is a good place to stop and send along.

(PS - please don't wait on me to reply to write more of anything you have to say. I do think we are picking away in the same gold mine and I am eager to hear more, always.)

Warmest wishes,
April
 
IV
Sept. 15

Hi April,
This gets messy - but I want to answer on the quicker side …

I have been thinking a lot about work and play this week, and your response dovetails nicely into exactly where my mind had traveled. Primarily I was asking myself the question of why many feminists adopt the puritanical ethic that values highly serious, dedicated, and industrious work? I was thinking about how class-oriented it is - middle class-oriented maybe, with a nod to lower classes. Perhaps at this moment, when intersectional feminism is so important, the aristocratic associations of having the privilege to play seem especially repugnant. If you identify with the struggle of the class who has no choice but to work, and for whom work is seen as a transcendent possibility, as the only way to escape one’s class position, play may be understood as neglectful of that struggle.

Teresa Ebert has made an argument against ludic theory because it ignores the historical materialism that she believes is unable to be addressed by ludic theory, or even worse, is blatantly dismissed by placing “desire beyond the reach of critique” (Ludic Feminism and After 53), perhaps a sentiment not dissimilar from your own explanation of Foucault’s lack of concern for outcomes. If one sees their “job” as to bring about change with definable conclusions, categorizable as productive, than indeed circularity would be undesirable.  But if we redefine our goal, focusing as you suggest on the process as a-productive, we may wander into not only the answer, but also discover a way to live life outside this paradigm. Why else is play so threatening unless it is capable of undoing some larger necessary constraint supporting a contemporary social structure? Couldn’t we instead affirm every person’s entitlement to play as an ideal? 

Charles S. Peirce, in his treatise “The Neglected Argument for the Reality of God” defined play as freedom. “Pure Play has no rules, except this very law of liberty.” Recreation is its only purpose. However the knowledge that derives from the state of “musement” for Peirce is singularly fertile and epiphanic. A kind of knowledge that cannot be strived for, only cultivated through lack of objective. This is where Play and Art seem to have similar goals.

For myself, the Party Performance had this spirit of play in mind. The cake was decorated with Schiller’s “Play Drive” in German - and the epiphany was the labor I performed as art, the ghost of feminine labor itself. The simultaneity of my actions recreating actions of women before me was only entirely revealed to me in the reverie and the questions it prompted. This is where the emergent matter and play might connect. I think making space for emergence is exactly what Peirce is advocating. Thinking about the kind of emergence that happen on Periscope is exciting given that it almost is structured to force the kind of play Peirce is advocating. But Periscope most terrifying aspect is that this play happens in collaboration, and with an audience. Because the broadcast will disappear 24 hours after it is made and is of low quality- the idea of it being productive is about as far removed as it could be. The world you see through someone else’s eyes is exactly whatever world they want to broadcast. Trying to be part of that world is a choice given to the viewer, interesting because it is carried out in real time.The viewers are given the possibility to interject into the world from afar, and then witness the effects, no matter the distance. 

I came across a sad French kid broadcasting one evening only blocks from my sister’s apartment in Paris, and I couldn’t help wanting to cheer him up. My avatar, being tiny, is often mistaken for a guy, something not usually worth correcting. I haven’t spent too much time chatting on Periscope - but that night I complimented his choice of music, he responded excitedly to me as an older guy living in LA. I immediately signed off (with a friendly excuse) in a panic. I was overwhelmed to think I was possibly sending out ripples in unknown geographies. It seemed like a dangerous amount of power and access even in this minutiae of interchange (perhaps also something that as a woman I am not used to having). That said, the fact that I should be so much more comfortable broadcasting makes me question who is actually playing on Periscope? 

I have watched quite a few Periscope “performances" and they are inherently playful, boring or silly. Usually there is banter and probes emanating on the viewing end, while the person broadcasting has control over the image and the audio, everything except the script on screen. But even that script quickly fades out irretrievably from view. Coercion is brought about through external social constraints, but isn’t implicitly built into the architecture of Periscope. I think my anxiety points to how much of the real world seeps in and out, and points exactly to your question about what consequences this kind of collaborative play on the network can bring about. This isn’t adding much to the question - but it does give me something to think about - and take back to periscope. I haven’t been on in a while. I think I’ll try to play there a little before writing again. 

Kate
 
V
18 September 2016

Dear Kate,
Thinking of you on Friday as I went with a co-worker to a "Paint and Sip" party. I really had to pocket all my arrogance connected to being a professional artist and scholar with all these degrees and experience practicing and analyzing art to try to have fun with a woman I find interesting as we painted a bad picture of a harvest moon with dead trees in the front. As I never was a painter, not even a little watercolor on Sundays, I claim no skill in this area and was game for trying something new, even if it was a sort of trumped up Lady-experience of mass creativity executed at the mall. It is humbling to declare my picture an abysmal failure, [include image?] while my friend, a biologist and financial officer with only a painting class from middle school to her name, made a beautiful, illustrated teacup version of the same picture. I don't think I'm really cut out for the mass market type of the collective experience of perching on mincing chairs, donning craft aprons, and giggling over glasses of wine the paint and sip venue offered. Still there was something so absurd about it I find interesting. Even the display of Creative Lady wearables (from seaglass jewelry to floating, crinkled linen clothes) that included a black cashmere beret for the more dedicated painter/sippers, were both alluring and repulsive.

I shy far away from the tropes of feminine creativity, yet I'm an avid baker, do fine embroidery work whenever I have time, knit socks and sweaters while watching television, and have been known to get a little sassy making custom design dresses, once using lace curtains as the fabric (perhaps not unlike the feminine mercenary Scarlett O'Hara on her way to entrap Rhett Butler in her green velvet curtains dress). The situation of the paint-n-sip forced me to try, however awkwardly, to engage in art as play. It reminded me that I value the a-temporality that the gesture required for mark-making of any kind evokes for me and one of the reasons is that this suspended thinking space of practice allows a certain kind of document of experience to arise that would otherwise remain prescribed by more categorical discourses of the everyday (expectations, ideas of perfection, etc). Of course, I want to gesso over that ugly painting I made and see if I can do something I actually like, but maybe the best part of that whole experience was the renewed desire to make things that I have sort of tabled in favor of a more academic type of inquiry.

It makes me think of Giulana Bruno's book Streetwalking on a Ruined Map, from the early 1990s, where she talks about the cultural theorist as flaneur, one who walks about (perhaps navigating ruined maps or charting new ones), observing the creative gesture lost to history. In her case, she traces what she calls a "microhistory" of a lost Italian woman filmmaker, Elvira Natori, who ran a film company for nearly 30 years in the early 20th century. Only two or three of Natori's many films survive, partly because the work wasn't valued in the masculine machine of the cinema industry, but Bruno "maps" the lost memory of an extraordinary woman, whose labor was about documenting women and their everyday (limited and ordinary) lives, as she builds up a theory of creativity from a marginal or unmapped territory. I think this is partly what we are about, the two of us, making and analyzing or connecting our various ways of expressing to the work of others, be they mothers, philosophers, photographers, or gamers. While I think most people a connection to some degree, I feel that there is a playfulness with regard to the way I like to map those connections with a kind of rigor that becomes a way of making new meaning, or in some cases emergent material. This also connects for me to the way the Periscoper "plays" the performer as a kind of live avatar. It's sort of like hybridizing being through these network connections that extend what a body can do, be, remember, enact, make, and so on.

I think it's sort of interesting that you were feeling like you wanted to support the little French kid, and knowing from my own experience how starry-eyed French youth are for anything LA (I had to do voice overs for a French surf band [v. bad] and a music video for an alternative composer [v. interesting] where he had me say the same things in French that he was saying in English to sort of hilarious effect) it's not surprising that your avatar received the response it did. I recall that experiment that psychologist did in the 80s (I think) where he pretended to be a paraplegic woman on a chat room and built a wonderful community around his compassionate advice for the lovelorn and lonely. When he was outed (either voluntarily or by someone in the group, can't remember) he was completely spurned. I wondered about this result because in that space he "really" was that woman and he had the most rewarding relationships he'd had thus far. Yes he was "false" in a certain way, but I think it might have been more complex than that. The play he exercised as this woman avatar was beautiful for everyone until some kind of reality interjected itself. So the question is was the power he wielded as a lonely but educated man playing at enacting compassionate femininity really a "bad" use of power, or did he use the failure of his own masculinity as a way to empower himself anew as a woman. Maybe it's too obtuse or simplistic a question. I have a feeling J would be rolling his eyes at me for this, but idk, it seems like the question of power relations and embodiment are the key ones being raised by products like Periscope. 

The other thing is that being able to be in Paris at the same time as you're in LA when playing on Periscope, is a really interesting situation, even if it is taking the promises of the company supplying the app too literally. This looking through the eyes of the other, becoming subject to his experience, and then exploring the possibilities of your own state of virtuality is extremely interesting to me. More, I must say, even than Gibson's cyber-jockeys like Case who just became more facile versions of themselves on the Net. My questions always extend to the possibilities for transformation that emerge simultaneously with the gross exercises of power in these networked, layered, memorial kinds of activities.
You know, when I read Teresa Egbert's essay on ludic feminism, I found it to merely substantiate the positioning of feminists as hardasses without a sense of fun. She throws "ludic" around like a dirty word or a jeer. I get her point, but it just seems like another of those positional arguments where you have to choose to either play or fight, strive or frolic, romp or rumble. I just feel like play and work have to be more of a process of movement, a shifting of weight from heel to toe or palm of hand or something like that. Otherwise, we just land back in the same pit we've been in always seeking to identify what's putting us in the hold and keeping us there without ever pausing to imagine what our part is in any give moment, in the larger array of histories and discursive moves and rhetorical cyphers and temporal ebbs or flows. Well, I suppose I'm rambling a bit, but I just keep thinking of Elizabeth's Grosz recent (2012) discussion of "Freedom To" that is different from "freedom from" only in that it keeps imagining possibilities from many angles and without ever coping to restrictions while at the same time acknowledging that the restrictions are almost the matrix of life as we know it. 
I did want to clarify that I don't have any hesitation about the outcomes of Foucault's experiments in the dark spaces. I find him very courageous and adventurous, even though his choices meant that his life ended sooner than it might have. He lived the things he theorized and for that I believe him admirable. In the same way I regard Deleuze's choice to jump (maybe fall?) from a window rather than suffer and struggle without a voice as courageous and ethical. He lived a literal line of flight, even though the outcomes are a bit terrifying (in both cases) for those who carry on after. I don't advocate for suicide or for indiscriminate practices that knowingly put one's health in danger. But I do cherish Foucault's admonition to critically examine what informs our sense of who we are at every moment, so that past and present are intricately layered becoming future. Well, that sounds particularly abstract, as it's hard for me to really say it in terms other than those that have been expressed by the fellows I mention above. 

I carry on thinking about these a-temporal, simultaneous cartographies that really seem like what Deleuze calls "diagrams" that do not merely render relational interplays, but enact them. Does folding the tablecloth while thinking of your mother doing it enact a momentarily, new micro-gesture that speaks to a type of material being-doing (to quote Karen Barad) that emerges only as the fold is made? If one messes the task up or spells the German text on the cake incorrectly or references Schopenhauer when one means Schiller or "fails" to take pleasure in the playful task, is there a new form of laboring play that comes about, one that is unthought, unexpected, and ultimately transformative? 
Those are some of my own questions about failure as I have been working with this for some time, but perhaps that is enough for now. I apologize for taking so long to write back. I have to noodle a bit, then edit, and go back over a week's time as my day job exhausts me and leaves me with little reserve for the actual job of play. But carry on one must. 
Hope to hear from you soon,
a
 
VI
September 23, 2016

Dear April, 
In the spirit of play I was almost tempted to have the entire response to this be pictures.  I will start with this:

I think that the “Paint and Sip” party is almost a perfect nexus for studying work and play. Painting in this case, for most, would probably be classified as play. But for those of us who try to make art our work  painting sits on the same spectrum of material possibilities as our output,- while this sort of recreational painting kind of doesn’t.  That said I think these parties are a funny way of almost making painting into work, work that one can choose to do inebriated and socially, therefore making it pleasurable. But it is almost removed of play. There are instructions and expectation of an outcome that regulate the painting towards making a product. Perhaps the joy comes in the imitation of production of something that might have value as a commodity rather than the making itself. Or maybe not. A sort of sad things that happened at my paint and sip party was my cousin’s boyfriend being teased because he was good at copying the painting. People were especially ribbing my girl cousin about it (as if somehow his sexuality was brought into question by his dexterity with a paintbrush?) They seem to have forgotten we were celebrating my MFA graduation and warned her he might make the joke-worthy decision to go to art school. I quietly painted my turtle. 

Why are we so much more comfortable with work than play? Is a-temporality (a terrific boundless becoming-being) perhaps more present when it is not contrasted with work? (Work being where one’s mind is always traveling forward to not work, exercising our muscle for existing in multiple time spaces while taking us out of the present.) I have read that the idea of recreation (nicely embedded with creation), outside of aristocracy was really developed out of a regulation of working hours during the industrial revolution. As work became normalized, it othered play into an activity reserved for certain alternative hours (therefore normalizing it as well, though in reduced terms). In this way there is a parallel with the way art has become specialized - artists make art and it is work that has to be compensated monetarily in order to be art. Anyone else is doing it as recreation, there is hardly an in-between. This definition seems to apply even to the tax code, and the way it dictates that if you don’t make enough money at your art over time they can classify you a hobbyist and limit your write-offs. How depressing is that?

I have been listening to a reading of Pride and Prejudice as I work and a few things stood out to me. In the book women were expected to sing, play an instrument and paint, all as part of an education. I was struck by the arts integration into the day. Descriptions of their playing music after dinner while relaxing, or taking visitors while doing their needlepoint makes it feel organically woven in, at least in the comfortable aristocratic life they lead. Maybe it was all recreation. Diligent Mary however is almost seen as antisocial and not worthy of a suitor, distained specifically for taking her studies and practicing so seriously. In a book with a lot of moralizing, the moral is curious.

I did spend some time on periscope this week. Jumping on while I at breakfast mostly. This morning I even did a broadcast of the sunrise from the top of a parking garage here in Riverside. 447 people watched, 11 of them after it had happened. I was inspired to try it after I had caught the broadcast of a sunset in Hawaii - it was absolutely stunning! 

I also stumbled on someone who was watching a turtle lay eggs. That was incredible as well. People thanked me for my sunrise and I knew how they felt. I feel really grateful for each time someone broadcasts something like this. But it’s odd that after the fact it doesn’t seem so incredible, or worth re-watching. I can watch a sunset in Hawaii on YouTube any day - but something about knowing it is happening at the moment you are watching it does make it feel like you are in someone else’s eyeballs. The simultaneity makes it feel like it is your sunset - like it will reveal itself to you, that the moment of its full conclusion is still to come. You are watching time happen, doing what it does how it does it. It is a return to the time-space of play, when things are becoming, emerging. There is no real space for working on Periscope.

When I broadcast this morning I decided not to talk. The people watching together talked about where they were, what time it was, and what the sunrise had been like where they were. It was like throwing a party for nature, everyone sort of singing happy birth of day to the sun. I got a little of emotional - I was just a camera for a moment - my whole body directed towards transmitting this sunrise with purpose. 

Thinking about the woman avatar you mentioned above is interesting in relationship to this experience of having been a vehicle.  The members of the forum responded to his subjectivity - but his subjectivity had made a choice to put aside his identity and channel something else. What a mess. I have no idea. I can only say that I really did feel like I had lost my identity/subjectivity when 400 people watched the sunrise through my phone while I held it- and I was ok with that. It was as outside of time and space as you can imagine. When my phone battery died unexpectedly I was truly shocked. It was like crashing down into the parking lot to find myself alone on the concrete. The sunrise even looked better on my phone. 

Another broadcast I saw on Periscope this week was a really lively 6:30 am astronomy party. An astronomy professor was fielding questions and doing an excellent job of answering totally crazy inquiries and making sense out of it all. It was delightful and educational. I really appreciated his being able to incorporate the playful hijinks (lots of alien questions) and make it valuable. He’s a good teacher I suppose, but the broadcast felt like a gift.

Periscope really feels like a potential new performance space and yet its limits are so daunting. The time limit on the Periscope broadcast (it will be hosted on the platform only for 24 hours before it disappears) also gives it the ephemeral delicacy of a performance that will end shortly, a suspension of time for the sake of the magical moment. I appreciate that the developers somehow understood how this would give a charge to each transmission - or perhaps the size of the files simply makes it a technical constraint. Maybe there is only so much room on the platform, on the map of events, in the program memory for other time spaces. 

I like what you said about "a-temporal, simultaneous cartographies that really seem like what Deleuze calls 'diagrams' that do not merely render relational interplays, but enact them.” That is exactly what this seems to be about. 
It’s also exactly what seems to be missing in Egbert - how potent enacting other spaces is. Tonight I plan to watch a broadcast of the Black Lives Matter protests in North Carolina on Periscope and am almost as nervous as I would be if I went in person. I wonder if you could organize a protest on Periscope? Would anyone give it any weight? If 100,000 people tuned in would it mean anything? I sort of want to play around with this idea. 

I have so much more I want to ask and respond to - but I will leave it there, it’s time for me to go to work unfortunately.
 
Uploading files today. Still fussing but hope it will be soon. 

Kate

​Works Mentioned
Bruno, Giulana. Streetwalking on a Ruined Map. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992.

Ebert, Teresa L. Ludic Feminism and After: Postmodernism, Desire, and Labor in Late Capitalism. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

Foucault, Michel. “What is Enlightenment?” in The Foucault Reader. Ed. Paul Rabinow. New York: Pantheon Press, 1984.

Gibson, William. Neuromancer. New York: Ace, 1984.

Goldman, Russell. “Here’s a List of 58 Gender Options for Facebook Users.” ABC News. February 13, 2014. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/02/heres-a-list-of-58-gender-options-for-facebook-users/. Accessed 8 October 2016.

Grosz, Elizabeth. “Feminism, Materialism, and Freedom.” In New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics. Eds. Diana Coole, Samantha Frost. Durham, NC and London, UK: Duke University Press, 2010.

Made in LA. Biennial Exhibition 2012, 2014, 2016. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, California.

Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind. New York: MacMillian, 1936.

Peirce, C. S. "A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God." Hibbert Journal 7 (1908): 90-112. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Neglected_Argument_for_the_Reality_of_God.

Schiller, Friedrich. Essays. New York: Bloomsbury, 1993.

Woolfe, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. London, UK: Hogarth Press, 1925.


    
    
Home
Artwork
Analysis
Explication
Research