AstroDime member sam smiley is working on her dissertation and this documents a visit to the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden, the Netherlands.
119 Gallery and AstroDime Transit Authority are now initiating a new campaign. We call it AHA! (Artists Helping Artists). We are modeling it on a wonderful campaign for musicians called Sweet Relief.
We believe that artists in the United States contribute a lot to their communities. Of course they contribute to culture, but in addition, many are teachers, mentors, and community activists. They often volunteer their time in order to make their community better through their work, teaching, and activism. To that end, we are initiating occasional pop-up fundraisers to help artists who have been affected by age, sickness, and financial crisis, so that they can get back on their feet and continue their work and contribution to their communities..
Here’s our first campaign:
and our working logo. We hope you will consider our causes. They will make a lot of difference.
On Saturday, November 15, 2014 at the JFK Library & Museum in Dorchester, Massachusetts, AstroDime Data collectors took part in an action as part of Adjunct Action/SEIU’s conference for adjunct faculty from around the United States. The conference was called “A Higher Road for Higher Ed: Expanding the Movement in America’s College Town” and the agenda and web site can be found here:
It was a very moving symposium. Faculty member after faculty member talked about their experiences in teaching for many years, and their work not being appreciated or honored by their institutions. What was most interesting was that this symposium was doing the work of honoring these faculty..the work that Universities and Colleges should be doing.
AstroDime Transit Authority made an appearance with our data collecting team. We asked faculty to “doodle” during the conference, and we collected the doodles during the length of the conference. There are many more wonderful doodles but here is some documentation of our action, which we called DoodleDadaData. The Dada is in reference to the Dada movement..and AstroDime was honoring the feminist principle of “invisible work”. So we were in fact doing a sort of Feminist Dada art project.
Here are some images below. More to come!
AstroDime is occasionally asked to do arts based qualitative analysis. The work below was for a questionnaire an outside investigator sent to adjunct faculty to one private North American college in 2014, initially to assess the adjunct faculty needs at that institution. AstroDime noticed the survey was mostly quantitative in nature, and advised the outside investigator who was doing this survey to add an “essay response” in one of their sections. They don’t usually do that because it’s hard for them to analyze. But they took a chance with this.
We used a qualitative coding method called “in-vivo” coding to analyze the response. From that we made a poem. AstroDime recommends poetic inquiry as one means of analyzing these texts. The result of the analysis carries the evocative (Leavy 2008) qualities of QABR (or qualitative arts based research) into the public and outside the ivory tower.
The prompt question we used to code from was this:
What is your primary motivation for supporting a union at [name of university not posted here for confidentiality]
here’s the process and poem below.
DISCARD AND REPLACE
After 10 years I remain a non-entity.
I do a lot of unpaid work in this position.
Nobody has ever set foot in my class to observe my teaching.
I think that adjunct like all faculty deserve a living wage and respect for what we deliver.
I want to be treated like something other than a person to discard and replace at the whim of deans and administration.
I think the exploitation is unconscionable and must be stopped.
I am tired of being treated as an interchangable part.
We are treated like servants.
We are not just cheap labor.
We are training teachers, not babysitters!
We are permanent, not just additional positions.
I would simply like an ounce of security implied in the position despite the fact that I am only an adjunct.
I want pay for teaching.
I want to sense more inclusion and respect from the full time faculty.
I want to be treated as a knowledgeable and respected colleague.
I want inclusion in the community.
I want a greater voice in my department.
I want to see that generations of professors after me are treated with respect and justice.
I do not want to be invisible.
Compiled and coded by AstroDime Transit Authority
HOW THIS WAS DONE:
DATA POEM TITLE: Discard and Replace
Source: Private College in North America. Third Party questionnaire surveys to adjunct faculty. 115 questionnaires received by the date of the coding process.
Coding Category: “Respect for Adjuncts”
Coding Strategy: We highlighted phrases which to me resonated with the ideas of respect for the teaching profession.
Technical Stuff: Another party uploaded all the data from the survey into SaturateApp (http://saturateapp.com). AstroDime created the codes. There are many more codes, more nuts and bolts, but from a poetic perspective, this turned out to be the most compelling to draw out for us. We are not including raw data out of respect and privacy of the participants.
CODES MADE FROM SATURATAPP:
models/face to face
respect for adjuncts
compensation/supplies for class
If you are in my generation (this is sam writing)..ahem..you might remember this game:
Hungry Hungry Hippos
Well, although the above is technically off topic, ASTRODIME’s current research is on invasive species, weeds, and climate change. In the spirit of that, we will share a picture of a hippopotums eating water hyacinth.
The above link is from Scott Macaskill, a photographer and blogger who posts images of wildlife in Africa. Check his facebook page out for more info: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wildlife-Pictures-Online/
One thing about water hyacinth:
It is considered one of the world’s most invasive plants, according to the Global Invasive Species Database. (Provenance of that web site still unclear, but it does have handy info)
It is the topic of my dissertation, water hyacinth. (Me being sam smiley) In the next few years, one of the long research arms of AstroDime may extend into this inquiry..
In general, AstroDime is currently concerned with our usual topics of communication and transportation, but we are also researching climate change in the Anthropocene era. Yes the era in which human activities CHANGE global climate conditions. Yikes.
In closing, I would highly like to recommend this book which made me both laugh and cry at the same time at human attempts to regulate water ecologies in the early 1900’s. LIFE, I say, is ALWAYS stranger than fiction.
Here’s an AstroDime Special Report on the 4S conference (http://4sonline.org) held in San Diego October 9-12, given by AstroDimer sam smiley
My concentration here will be on art and ethnography. I’m not necessarily looking at the big “art and science” question because there are value sets in both the visual arts and in science and technology that are too large for me to break down, and to start by deconstructing those would mean that I would never get down to my personal arts, ethnography and STS detective work.
One session that proved to be important to me was the following:
The work I enjoyed from this panel was Anne Galloway’s ethnographic work with sheep farms, sheep, farmers in New Zealand..and the artwork that has come out of it. It’s truly “situated artwork” and speculative fiction. Her talk was titled “Speculating the Multispecies Internet”.
Her current links for the project are here:
and you can follow her research blog here.
Another talk from this “Critical Making” panel was on the materiality of data, and making data narratives (Yanni Loukissas and Laura Forlano). I actually found this work (a form of performing data collection in the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, massachusetts) really useful both for STS connections and Qualitative Arts Based Research. They are intersted in “codesigning technoscience” and “hands on ethnography” and do ethnographic scavenger hunts and co-designing workshops. Here is a web site from their recent work in the Arnold Arboretum completed this past June of 2013
A note about the organizers of the Critical making panels: The Critical Making movement originates out of the Critical Making Lab in University of Toronto
They put out a great ‘zine called Critical Making
The first issue had an insert and parody on MAKE magazine (a sort of commodified DIY guide published by O’Reilly)
I found the concept of critical making really really interesting because it had some of the same critiques of DIY ish “Maker” culture in the U.S that I have thought about..overwhelmingly white, male, and uncritically “making”. The Critical Making group also involves craft in the concept of their work, which I appreciated. Because when I had followed and read the original MAKE magazines, I noticed that O’Reilly split the concept of craft off from the “maker” concept..(in another magazine called “CRAFT”) effectively reinscribing the gender divide that the “democratizing” MAKEr movement was supposed to bridge. But enough of my ranting..
Back to 4S..another talk that combined the arts and STS for me was actually on another panel..but had a lot in common with the previous aforementioned presentations. It was in the “In Search of ‘lines of flights’ in/to/for/by Latin America and Elsewhere” organized by Ivan da Costa Marques.
Within the first session was a presentation by Wendy Cano (researcher) that involved a collaboration with her sister Frida Cano (artist) in looking at corn as culture, and the uses of trangenic corn.This blog site has really great documentation of the project..an artistic cross cultural exchange on the meaning of corn that took place in Schöppingen, Germany in the spring of 2012. There is a great art book with Wendy’s writing, and also documentation of recipes from that experience. You can find examples in this blog entry: http://fridacano.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/vitamina-t/
My summary from these small samples are this: that the arts in STS can have a few models.. but the most effective models seem to work well with a collaboration of STS methods of research, and artists interested in ethnographic field work.
one model is using art to “co-design” field research such as with the work of Yanni Loukissas and Laura Forlano,
one model is doing critical public art with STS themes such as the work with Wendy and Frida Cano,
one model is somewhat like Anne Galloway’s art and ethnography work.. to create “artifacts” or fictions that result from the research and from collaboration with other artists.
I will close with a totally unrelated post. I was lucky enough to see Donna Haraway present a book Insectopedia by Hugh Raffle. First, I love the book. and I’m not really into bugs. It has exactly the kind of esoteric bits and pieces I love to follow and file somewhere. Also Haraway’s description of a “tangled coexistence” with insects is totally creepy but real. Donna Haraway talked about digging ticks out of her skin. But somehow it was a lot more poetic.
Astrodime member sam smiley attended the SLSA conference (Society for Literature, Arts and Sciences) in South Bend Indiana, October 3-6, 2013. The theme was Postnatural. http://litsciarts.org/slsa13/
What follows is a incomplete summary:
AstroDime is hard at work on finishing INtransit V.7: Invaders!, and we are starting research on INtransit V.8 (most likely weeds). My presentation was on weeds as boundary objects. So this conference (as well as the follow STS conference) was very valuable for the development of these ideas. I also would like to mention there was a great accompanying art exhibit too at this conference.
Since I am actually teaching a class on gaming using a program called Scratch, I paid attention especially to the gaming tracks:
Digital humanities theorist N. Katherine Hayles worked with a team of collaborators at Duke University (at the Greater Than Games Lab http://www.fhi.duke.edu/labs/greaterthangames to create an alternate reality game (ARG in the lingo) based on economics and the financial crash in the U.S. in 2008. It is called http://speculat1on.net (that’s a number 1 for the name)
There was a great talk on Queer Videogame Ecologies..Edmond Chang spoke about queer subtexts in the film Wreck it Ralph. And I got myself online with Minecraft, thanks to Amanda Phillips. I think I also got a lead on another queer game artist: Electronic Game art by Merrit Kopas
I went to the first panel of Object Oriented Feminism. (some of my notes)
Thoughts I left with..and took into the following 4S conference:
If an artist gets trained in social science or visual anthropology..at some point (I did anyway) I became very self conscious about the ethics of representation..I was able to surmount this but..is this…
Saturday Sept 28, Astrodime introduced new products at a conference on art and entrepreneurship held at the MIT media lab and hosted by the Sloan School.
We collected new Apps and accessories for the iCAN, demoed our products, and stepped up our marketing with the Astrodime Electronic and Tin Can Marching band.
AstroDime is doing some work with ideas around Invasive Species in Provincetown, and we will have an exhibit at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies in June 0f 2013. Part of the work that I (sam smiley) am doing is identifying aquatic invasive species in Provincetown.
The Aquatic Invasive Species group (based in Massachusetts) has provided ID cards for Aquatic Invasive Species.
Here’s a link to the main site:
and to the ID cards:
I decided to share an ID card and also my underwater version of the Invader! It is also known as Codium fragile, Dead Man’s Fingers, green fleece, green sea fingers, oyster thief, and Sputnik weed.
Here’s my version, which I would like to call “Space Invaders”
Astrodime Transit Authority is working on a video about weeds.
In February 2011, AstroDime Transit Authority got a press pass to visit the Weed Science Society of America’s conference in Portland Oregon. Astrodimer Lena Munday asked members of the society “What is a weed?”
After two years of sitting on the editing room shelves, sam smiley is editing these series of interviews. Combining audio interviews, images from the conference program, and images from a book about plants written in the 1500’s, this promises to be a meditation on the nature of weeds and weediness.
So what is a weed? STS theorist Susan Leigh Starr might call it “boundary object”, something that has different meanings to different groups of people.
I’m stumbling across all kinds of great sources, including an online library of public domain botanical books.
I’m also looking at Asa Gray’s article “The Pertinacity and predominance of weeds” written in 1879
and Gerard’s original text and images from his plant book written in 1633 titled The Herball, or, Generall Historie of Plantes