TRVNS4M is an ongoing expression of my thoughts on queerness in technology and technological transcendence. This project confronts the heterosexual, white hegemony that is projected onto and designed into ideas and uses of technology. To challenge the exclusivity of our current technological social imaginary, I have produced several illustrations which marry symbols and textures that are largely associated with femininity together with imagery that evokes a sense of progress, technology, and futurity.
Graphite on Paper
Found Images, Photoshop, Poetry by AJ Strout
Watercolor on Paper
Much of my practice examines, addresses, or challenges the social conditions that technology, queerness, and transformation make possible, both on the introspective individual, and on the larger social body. Because I am interested in expressing my thoughts regarding the conditions born from these rubrics, sometimes through open and direct interpretation and other times through more enigmatic discourse, I developed approximately 50 illustrated, hand-made books while taking a course on small press practices at Calarts.
The book’s perfect, repetitive folds are meant to reflect the reproductive nature of technology while the unique quality of each hand-made book points to technology’s variation from one invention to another. Its motley front and back covers asymmetrically feature discarded microchips. This tech-infused, non-uniform cover references the undefinable, frenzied nature of technology, the queer experience, and the transformations (social and cultural) that both make possible. The craft-like handmade aspect of the books reflect the personal nature of queer experience while also defying the capitalistic model as it cannot be reproduced via machine.
The book’s text engages the reader through a narrative that oscillates between concrete and abstract concepts while its illustrations undermine the static nature of conventional literature by creating a dynamic reading experience; the images are neither separate nor altogether representative of the text.
The content of the books are a compilation of poetry, prose, and poetic essays that attempt to address the absence of queers in the technological social imaginary (the larger social body), the possibilities and consequences that technological transcendence may one day actualize, and reflections of queer experiences. Each page explores a different concept (memory, affect, struggle, the limitations of the digital, the limitations of wetware), while recurring themes and situations woven throughout the book ground the reader, providing coherence. The content follows the thoughts, desires, and memories of an aging technologist named Ena, who downloads her consciousness into the machine to extend her life. This is Technological Transcendence.
The book is shaped by its accordion-style binding. I’ve chosen this style because, like the mind and body reacting to experience, the book undergoes a radical transformation when opened (affect). Unlike a traditionally bound book, the accordion book stretches as it unfolds. This action of opening and expanding the book adds another dimension to the reading experience. When completely open, the book as a whole, becomes a large object to witness–much like the social body (society). When each page is viewed up close, the reader becomes familiar with each entry and its details, much the way they would when getting to know an individual.
The simplicity of the book’s style, with its sharp edges and perfect lines, is a reminder of the static and sterile nature of technology (the limitations of hardware), while the book’s diagonally placed machinic pieces provide an asymmetrical aesthetic which also acts as a metaphor for the off-centered (unconventional) nature of homosexuality.