All posts filed under: Past Issues

Introduction / Issue 30: Poetics of Play

Artwork by contributor Iasmin Omar Ata. For Issue 30, the editorial board of InVisible Culture is honored to present a special introduction by Dr. Aubrey Anable. In my book, Playing with Feelings: Video Games and Affect, I make the claim that video games are the most significant art form of the twenty-first century.1 It was meant as a provocation and, by settling the matter, a call to move the discussion away from the question: are video games art? And toward the more interesting one: What do video game aesthetics do in the world now? This move takes its inspiration from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s definition of “reparative reading.” Interrogating the critical habits in the humanities that keep us fixated on taxonomies, ontologies, and what they hide, Sedgwick compels us to instead ask, “What does knowledge do—the pursuit of it, the having and exposing of it, the receiving again of knowledge of what one already knows? How, in short, is knowledge performative, and how best does one move among its causes and effects?”2 Paraphrasing Sedgwick we might …

Contributors / Issue 30 : Poetics of Play

Iasmin Omar Ata is a Middle Eastern & Muslim award-winning comics artist, game designer, and illustrator who creates art about coping with illness, understanding identity, dismantling oppressive structures, and Arab-Islamic futurism. Their recent graphic novel, Mis(h)adra, has resonated with readers and reviewers alike with its vivid and searingly honest account of epileptic lived experience. Iasmin has been reviewed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, The Electronic Intifada, Library Journal, NPR, and such; they’ve taught & spoken at the New York Public Library and Harvard University. They thrive on dedication, dreams, and hard work — and believe wholeheartedly in the healing power of art. Grant Bollmer is the author of three books, Inhuman Networks: Social Media and the Archaeology of Connection (2016, Bloomsbury), Theorizing Digital Cultures (2018, SAGE), and Materialist Media Theory: An Introduction (2019, Bloomsbury). He is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at North Carolina State University, where he teaches in the Department of Communication and the Ph.D. program in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media (CRDM), and is an Honorary Associate of the Department of Media …

Image of the Playsaurus, Clicker Heroes 2014 video game.

Wait Wait… Don’t Play Me: The Clicker Game Genre and Configuring Everyday Temporalities

By Oscar Moralde “We do not say that we have learnt, and that anything is made new or beautiful by mere lapses of time; for we regard time itself as destroying rather than producing, for what is counted in time is movement, and movement dislodges whatever it affects from its present state.”1 “The Time Machine brings cookies from the past, before they were even eaten.”2 Game genre, duration, and the flow of the everyday Video game aesthetics extend beyond the sights and sounds encoded into datasets for electronic processing into the audiovisual worlds of player experience. They even extend beyond the feel and feelings produced by the cybernetic intersubjective assemblage of player and game at the threshold of the interface, which has become an important site of inquiry for game studies scholars.3 Game aesthetics are strongly situated aesthetics: spatial and temporal contexts not only shape the meanings that players take away from gameplay experience, but they also determine the form and types of experience that unfold in play. For example, in Hamlet on the Holodeck, …

The Kinesthetic Index: Video Games and the Body of Motion Capture

Written by Grant Bollmer In this essay, I present a history of the graphic adventure genre of video and computer games and its attempts at achieving a kind of cinematic realism through the registration of the body. In reviewing the history of this genre, I contextualize some early attempts to use motion capture and rotoscoping to incorporate human bodies into games, arguing that representation in games and other forms of digital media should be conceived not as deferring to the visual, but as reliant on the kinesthetic. While the visual presence of a human body may no longer be a coherent source of any link between a representation and physical reality, motion brings together digital images with the reality inscribed into media. This involves numerous questions about realism, indexicality, and affect, which I aim to intertwine and unfold below. In making this argument, I demonstrate three things. First, digital images are condensations of specific—if multiple—bodies that persist as representations that have some link with the physical world.1 Second, realism in games has long relied on …

Pokémon Korosu In-Game Screenshots

Playful (Counter)Publics: Game Mods as Rhetorical Forms of Active and Subversive Player Participation

By Nicole Kurashige Introduction Though most digital humanities scholars readily agree that game developers need to offer more progressive functions and options to enhance player agency, such recommendations for further research or action often ignore how players are already able to enact their agency in spaces beyond the game itself. Online gaming forums serve as hotbeds of active player participation and (counter)public discourse.1 Players seeking to expand their agency within games can do so via modifications (referred to hereafter as “mods”).2 Mods, which are collaboratively developed in such online forums by players for players, are digital compositions that can alter the code of a game in various ways, thereby opening up more possibility spaces for players without having to wait for developer intervention. Players, thus, challenge, resist, and subvert the procedural rhetoric encoded in a game by exhibiting their agency through the creation, distribution, and use of these mods. Mods and their related modding communities have been around for decades, but, surprisingly, little to no research has been done to examine their rhetorical significance. This …

The Monster Has Kind Eyes: Intimacy and Frustration in The Last Guardian

By Kaelan Doyle-Myerscough The Last Guardian is a 2016 single-player adventure game that follows the relationship between an unnamed young boy and a giant gryphon-like creature, referred to as Trico, as they navigate the ruins of an ancient, apparently technologically-advanced civilization.1 The player controls the boy, who is small and weak—he is incapable of fighting the ghostly suits of armor that he and Trico encounter throughout the game, and he often cannot physically traverse the massive, vertical ruins in which the game takes place without falling or stumbling. Meanwhile, Trico, who accompanies the boy, protects him from danger and is essentially impervious to harm; however, Trico is vulnerable to hunger, distraction, fear, and to the lingering effects of traumas it has apparently suffered at the hands of something in the ruins. The boy and Trico, neither fully able to traverse the space they find themselves in, must work together to locate food, overcome obstacles, and defeat enemies. Critical and audience responses to The Last Guardian were mixed: though the game was praised for its map …

“I’m controlling and composing”: The role of metacognition in The Incredible Machine

By Marc Ouellette1 Up, up and away: Introduction The mouse sets the bowling ball in motion, which falls and squeezes the bellows, which sends out a puff of air, which sends the balloon into the gears that are connect by a belt to another mouse’s exercise wheel. The balloon pops. Having learned how this routine functions, I then move my mouse to connect the rest of the on-screen mice so that the pulleys of all of the caged mice spin with their wheels to finish the puzzle in time allowing me to move to the next level. Eventually, I will be able to make my own versions of Rube Goldberg machines turned into puzzles based on what I have seen and learned in playing through the eighty challenges provided for Mort the mouse, Bob the fish, and me. Although it is more than twenty-five years old, by teaching about games, learning through games, and learning itself,  The Incredible Machine (Dynamix, 1992) continues to defy several key deterministic viewpoints about video games. Said another way, The …

All The Places You’ll Go (Women As Place)

By Angela Washko  All The Places You’ll Go (Women As Place) is an interactive hypertext point-and-click narrative adventure game. Since 2011, Angela Washko has collected over 200 postcards from around the world and from 23 states throughout the US, with one thing in common: they depict women as a stand-in for the geographic location they seek to represent. All The Places You’ll Go puts players into the position of experiencing different locations (from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Tijuana, Mexico to Helsinki, Finland) through their postcard representations of women, experiencing the perspective of the assumed male traveler and his Western gaze. Link: https://angela-washko.itch.io/women-as-place 

Being

By Iasmin Omar Ata “We are the wound in the Arab world … everyone watches what happens to us.” –Nader Said1 Being is an abstract adventure game that explores, from a future lens, the past and present of the Palestinian lived experience.2 In the story of Being, the Palestinian diaspora has extended to outer space as the Earth crumbles. You play as a Palestinian cadet, sent back down to Earth by the colony, on a mission to recover artifacts, memories, and messages from a region near an old border. Your ship crashes into a ruined complex of houses; you step out of your ship into an eerie, red-light room. There are three doors around you and a table in the middle of the room, on which appear to be a cassette player as well as a cassette tape—but parts of the ribbon seem to be cut out. Curious as to what it would say, you begin looking around to see if the tape pieces are nearby. The first zone of the game focuses on memories …

Untitled Dating Sim & Boy’s Curse/Boy’s Blessing

By Nilson Carroll Using game genre as metaphor, I put a digital avatar of myself in a series of vulnerable positions for Untitled Dating Sim. This work considers the abstractions of human bodies in games as more than just a means to score points through (a patriarchal notion). Players follow the logic of visual novels to create the possibility for love/connection rather than an exchange between player and game aestheticized by violence. Video games are made up of designed exchanges between player and game. It is up to the game creator to assign these exchanges moralities, in-game values, and meanings, to give them flavor, inject them with violence, cleverness, primordial energy. By their nature, visual novels are designed to be quieter and more contemplative compared to games in other genres, dealing more with relationships between characters than centering around violent action sequences. Stemming from visual novels is the niche Japanese genre of dating sims, which vary from the playfully absurd to the pornographacation of characters of all genders and ages1. Inspired by dating sims, I …

Introduction / Issue 29:
Beyond Love

Featured image: Still from “The Origin Tapes” by contributor Beina Xu Before we can get beyond love, we would like to share how we got there. When we decided the twenty-ninth issue of InVisible Culture should address the idea of love, one of our members asked,”Why love and why now?” Although this question was raised to the other board members, it also extended beyond our group and toward a recent discourse. Why, for example, is love the topic Alain Badiou turned to in his book In Praise of Love? Or, more importantly, why would Badiou want to praise love? The question of love was also the topic of an aptly titled e-flux journal reader series, What’s Love (or Care, Intimacy, Warmth, Affection) Got To Do With It? Rather than answer these questions (including the one initially raised within our board), InVisible Culture seeks to keep the question of love in its place in order to move beyond it. This is not an abandonment of the topic, but a way to use what love has given in …

Contributors / Issue 29: Beyond Love

Laurel Ahnert is a lecturer in the School of Film, Media & Theatre at Georgia State University. She researches ethical questions raised by global documentary films and online media using phenomenology as her philosophical lens. Her work has appeared in journals such as Social Text and New Review of Film & Television Studies. Tiffany E. Barber is a scholar, curator, and writer of twentieth and twenty-first century visual art, new media, and performance. Her work focuses on artists of the black diaspora working in the United States and the broader Atlantic world. She is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Delaware. Loren Britton is an artist and curator based in between Berlin, Germany and New York, USA. Britton’s work explores the transformation of form via linguistic devices. Britton’s work is in relationship to the non-binary body and seeks to reimagine the utopian possibilities of language. Britton has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at Boston University, Boston, MA, USA; Scott Charmin Gallery, Houston, TX, USA; LTD Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Vanity Projects, Miami, FL, USA; Field Projects, New …

Us, THEM, and High-Risk Dancing

By Tiffany E. Barber In darkness, a live, punk-influenced sound score saturates a converted sixty-nine-seat black box theater in New York’s Lower East Side. The source: electric guitarist Chris Cochrane positioned upstage right.1 Upstage left, a spotlight illuminates two young male dancers from above. One sits in a chair and the other kneels, dressing bandages on the first dancer’s right knee. They wear cool-colored tank tops, loose-fitting khaki pants, and sneakers. Writer Dennis Cooper recites a text in an uninflected monotone alongside the dancers’ initial movements, cuing the piece’s sociopolitical implications: I saw them once. I don’t know when, or who they were because they were too far away. But I remember things, like what they wore, which wasn’t anything special—pants, shirts, regular colors—stuff I’ve seen thousands of times since. I wanted them to know something. I cupped my hands around my mouth and thought about yelling out. But they wouldn’t have heard me. Besides, I didn’t belong there.2 This opening scene sets the stage for Ishmael Houston-Jones’s THEM, an improvised composition at the intersection …

Loss of Control, Control over Loss: A Posthumanist Reading of Lars and the Real Girl and Black Mirror’s “Be Right Back”

By Prerna Subramanian “To define what is real is to define what is human, if you care about humans. If you don’t you are schizoid…and the way I see it, an android: that is, not human and hence not real.”- Philip K Dick quoted by N Katherine Hayles in How We Became Posthuman The idea that any discussion pertaining to what is human and what is not, matters only “if you care about humans” is an important connection this article probes further into.1 This particular prerequisite to defining what is human is significant to understanding how relationships, emotions, sentiments have often formed the field where arguments in favour of and against human exceptionalism have been played out. Human exceptionalism or the tendency to categorically put humans on a different pedestal than other beings has been a crucial tenet through which posthumanist scholars often ruminate over the idea of human, inhuman, non-human and investigate the boundaries between these categories. What posthumanist scholars tend to grapple with in their work is the idea of whether there is …

‘Making things glow with their own light’: Love, Documentary Witness and the Endless Search in Nostalgia for the Light

By Laurel Ahnert   The luster and gleam of the stone, though itself apparently glowing only by the grace of the sun, first bring to radiance the light of the day, the breadth of the sky, the darkness of the night. The temple’s firm towering makes visible the invisible space of air. —Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”   Transparence means experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself, of things being what they are […] What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more. —Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation and Other Essays   Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light (2010) begins with a black screen and the sound of metal gliding against metal. A series of close-ups show the internal machinations of a large interstellar telescope, which creaks and groans as it rotates slowly before banging loudly into place. The camera looks up at the high, domed ceiling of the observatory. Two sliding doors scrape open to reveal a large …

The Origin Tapes

By Beina Xu The Origin Tapes is an essay film borne from the discovery of a suitcase of unseen VHS tapes recording my family’s migration from China to the U.S. in the 1980s. They contained images of landmark moments in personal and collective history: the first time I meet my father—which is also the first time I set foot in the U.S.—as well as footage of the Tiananmen riots of 1989, and late family members. Spellbound, I embarked on an emotionally arduous process to digitize and watch them for the first time. What emerged was a documented process of encounter—an archaeology of love. Years of migration and distance have strained—at times estranged—relations within my family. There was a marked gap between the way I felt about my upbringing, and the feeling the tapes transmitted to me in the moment I watched them, as if I actually lived two lives: “first as a child, then as an adult, with a screen of forgetfulness erected somewhere between them” (MacDougall 2006:69). How does one perceive love? And how …

Queerstory on Art and Sex: What’s love got to do with it?

By Trish Nixon Visceral desire, pleasures of the flesh, A pulsating heat that is all consuming A gaze that touches melting you into a pool of ecstasy My aim is to articulate truthfully what it means to inhabit my body. Rawness, pleasure, and deviant behavior are what excites me most. Currently, my studio practice is taking me on a search for a new kind of imagery, one where lines are blurred between gender constructs. The work crosses into various fields from painting to digital media. Installation and performance are also appropriate platforms. Food and self-pleasure are a consistent theme throughout. My images allow me the freedom to embrace my sexual body anyway I please. I do not seek to establish a barrier between my work and explicit imagery. Nor do I seek to align my work with a grand aesthetic theme. At this time, my images speak to sexual desires and fetishes outside of a normative framework surrounding the body. It is within this framework where I express my queerness, my vulnerability, and my need …

Amores Postmodernos

Featured image: Uy aqui y donde sea By Martin F. Wannam “Amores Postmodernos”a photographic series that explores queer subjects from Guatemala City with a contemporary narrative base of social media, sex, gender and sexuality created with religious symbolism as a way of proposing political disturbance to people that impose the norm by showing pleasure of a queer lifestyle. I want my work to render visible a community of humans that seek a queer heterotopia. As Michel Foucault suggests, “queer heterotopias are places where individuals can challenge the hereronormative regime and are free to perform their gender and sexuality without being qualified, marginalized or punish”.1 All of the subjects are friends or strangers that were encountered through my daily life, via social media, hookup apps, or circles of friends that in their own way are disrupting gender norms by exploring and experimenting with crafting a queer identity.  In thinking, in particular, about how queer love behaves towards oneself or to others, it cannot be defined by the norm but is defined through sexual practice or aesthetically transforming one´s …

Love in the dark

By Alexandra Halkias Love is colonized and recolonized. Never having been pure, technically love no longer can be said to exist really. Hallmark cards and diamonds, laws, LGBTQI+ struggles for its recognition, gowns, roses and designated beneficiaries populate the domain; not just the name is given. The very ground is gone. the grey melding of selves mundane lemon slice blood in the eyes the fury and the ice if anything manages to slither between  Anything There is an image of a father, a father who is dead.  The dead body in the bed.  Eyes closed, who closed them? The paid home carer. We got there a few minutes past. For almost an hour we talked to you, I held your hand, the doctor is coming, daddy. We called, he is coming. The color of the face, the position of the mouth. Sideway glances. The look of the mouth. My sister whispers to me, is he breathing? Holding your hand. Rubbing it. The way you used to rub ours. Realization dawns. Such words. The doctor comes. …

Marija + Toma

By Divlja Kruška/Wild Pear Arts Marija and Toma are a couple in their 60s who had been married for just over a year at the time of shooting. Both of them have had several previous spouses, but now they are together they have a strong desire to show off and share the exuberant affection they feel for one another with the people they hold dear. So it was that we were introduced to them while carrying out research for various on-going visual anthropology projects in Eastern Serbia, and they immediately invited us to join the lunch they were hosting to celebrate their 15-month wedding anniversary. In addition to their warmth and friendliness, we were keen to accept so that we could see the “Bird” monument that Toma had built for his village using money he had earned while working abroad. The monument actually turned out to be more of a village square that people could use for social events, such as the anniversary party in question. We envisaged shooting materials to use as part of an …

Dear Dawn

Featured image: Easter Queen, 11.5X13cm, 2017 By Loren Britton   Dear Dawn, I hope this finds you well. I’m writing to tell you that I love you. We haven’t met yet but when you told me you loved me, in your personal ad. Where you told anyone who read it that you loved them. I wanted to write you back:                                                      Dear Dawn,                                                                        I love you. That’s all.                                                                                               …

Still from: Love in the pixels: A visual autoethnography of restoration

Love in the pixels: A visual auto-ethnography of restoration

By Moira O’Keeffe “I went to the photographer’s show as to a police investigation, to learn at last what I no longer knew about myself.” – Roland Barthes.1 After an estrangement of nearly forty years, I have recently reconnected with my late father’s extended family. This video is the first step in an exploration of this process through visual autoethnography. I have been immersing myself in the large photographic archive of my equally large family, working with hundreds of family slides and photographs. I digitize slides, removing the visual remnants of dust, fingerprints, and the wear and tear of years gone by. I edit and tag and save metadata to the files I create. Along the way, I engage in a sort of personal photo-elicitation—are memories stored in these images? Can I access them?  What do the photographs mean to me? Where am I pricked by Barthes’ punctum? The photographs both represent and trigger memories; they also challenge and sometimes fully contradict the things that I think I know. Further, they offer the opportunity to …

#typewriter dialogues

By Susanne Kass https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/typewriterdialogues/ I am fascinated by the way that text in the era of the digital world and social media has both expanded some of its properties but also adjusted some of the material aspects of words. In some ways I feel that written text has become even more material, or at least when writing I have felt a greater need to touch, feel texture, accept mistakes and markings as a part of the process of writing. Time has also become condensed. With instant publishing the present moment is just more essential, the thoughts and feelings of today may be forgotten or different tomorrow, I can write bravely because I really don’t think anybody cares. If I don’t say it now it will never be, or at least everything will be different tomorrow. In the loneliness of my studio I returned to my typewriter. Bought at a flea market as an instrument for a performance, more for its ability to produce noise than to spit out evenly spaced, legible type, it was heavy, …

Introduction / Issue 28: Contending with Crisis

Artwork by contributor Anna Haglin The theme of the twenty-eighth issue of InVisible Culture makes explicit something that has resonated throughout the past four issues of our journal. From engagements with vulnerability and states of contagion (Issue 24: Corpus), and the intersections between surveillance, (national) security and the visual (Issue 25: Security and Visibility), to an issue inspired by the refugee crisis (Issue 26: Border Crossings) and another devoted to the proliferation of speculative imaginaries in the present moment (Issue 27: Speculative Visions), these issues suggest that “across diverse and geopolitical locations, the present moment imposes itself on consciousness as a moment in extended crisis.”1 Defined by the global uncertainty of a world afflicted by varied and ambiguously interrelated states of emergency, the concept of “crisis” here refers to a multitude of circumstances, events, and situations: military conflict, debt crises, issues of political representation, the mass migration and displacement of refugees, increasing ecological disruptions. These ruptures in the social demand constant attention from individuals and communities, constituting a need for committed artistic and scholarly engagements …

Contributors / Issue 28: Contending with Crisis

alma aamiry-khasawnih is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her scholarship focuses on access to the street in post-colonial and settler-colonial nation states as a site to understanding and articulating access to citizenship. Her current project examines ephemeral visual culture production as sites that orient, disorient, and reorient feminist debates on gender, class, and religion. She also examines how white-washing walls, cleansing, and beautification projects are all part of authoritarian visual culture and politics of respectability that aim at policing bodies in public spaces. Razan AlSalah is a filmmaker and media artist working between Canada, the US and Lebanon. Her work explores our contemporary (dis)connection to place, which particularly comes to question in digital spaces, and more so now in virtual reality.  Her short film your father was born 100 years old, and so was the Nakba, won Best Narrative Short at Cinema Days Palestine, has been acquired by the Palestine Films Collection and has been selected in film festivals including HotDocs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Ann …

Crisis of Invasion: Militaristic Language and the Legitimization of Identity and Place

By Emma Lansdowne On May 9, 2016, the alt-right news site Bugout News published an article entitled “It’s OFFICIAL: We’re Being Invaded By Illegal Immigrants And What Obama Has Reaped, We Will Sow,” in which the author declares that millions of Americans are “sick and tired of being forced to witness and accept a massive invasion of third-world poor into their country.”1This message of crisis, writes J. Dougherty under the web name Usafeaturesmedia, is a direct reflection of and signals agreement with the anti-immigration message put forth during the presidential campaign by current U.S. President, Donald J. Trump. 2 Trump’s hard-line campaign proposals on border control became a rallying cry for right-wing Americans who remain suspicious of asylum-seekers and view illegal immigration as one of the greatest threats not simply to national security, but to nationhood itself. Conservative journalist Pat Buchanan neatly summarized this position on the public affairs program The McLaughlin Group in early January 2016 when he warned that “if the invasion of Europe and the United States are not stopped, these — the …

Visibility in Crisis: Configuring Transparency and Opacity in We Are Here’s Political Activism

by Christian Sancto Fig. 1. We Are Here, Homeless on the street in the cold and rain after the eviction of camp Osdorp, Autumn 2012. Courtesy of the artists’ collective. We Are Here is the vehicle by which a group of Amsterdam-based refugees attempts to make visible the conditions of crisis that envelope its members’ lives. The group is comprised of refugees whose applications for asylum in the Netherlands are, for various reasons, no longer in process. Although they remain living in the Netherlands, they have no means of income, since they are not permitted to work. At the same time the government does not provide them with housing, forcing the group to move from squatted building to squatted building, or simply to live on the streets. The refugees formed We Are Here in September 2012 to provide them with a means for having their existence in the Netherlands recognized through collective action. The group’s website recounts that it emerged from an impetus to “make themselves visible” by “start[ing] a demonstration.”1 As interest in the group …

Four Times ‘Egyptian Identity:’ Mural collaboration as dissent in times of crisis

by alma aamiry-khasawnih Figure 1: Multiple artists, Egyptian Identity, June-July 2013, paint, spray, metal, found objects, and wood, 82 ff x 13 ft (25 m x 4 m). Qasr El-Nil Street, Cairo, Egypt. (Photograph: Abdelrhman Zin Eldin) A mural 25 meters long and four meters high stands at the end of Qasr El-Nil Street in downtown Cairo, only three blocks away from the famous Midan El-Tahrir (Tahrir Square) and Mohamed Mahmoud Street where Egyptian protestors lived and died demanding the fall of the regime starting on January 25, 2011. The sunset sky of white and blue with hints of red and orange forms the background for a portrait of a young fallaha (rural) girl with flowers in her braided hair, looking into the distance contemplating her past, present, and future. Beside her is a poem: “When I first opened my eyes, and before my mother knew me, they applied kohl (eyeliner) to my eyes reaching my temples so I can look like your statues.”1 She is surrounded by metal sculptures, hybrid figures, human and non-human, with …

“La Bola de Cristal”: Puerto Rican Meme Production in Times of Austerity and Crisis

by Caroline Gil-Rodríguez Sky is a sea of darkness, when there is no sun Sky is a sea of darkness, When there is no sun to light the way When there is no sun to light the way There is no day There is no day There’s only darkness Eternal Sea of Darkness. — Sun Ra Puerto Rico, a US Territory with a population of 3.474 million people, that is neither a sovereign nation nor state of the union. The island is currently in the midst of an ongoing financial crisis with an accrued debt of over $73 billion and $49 billion in pension obligations, the largest economic insolvency in the history of the United States. The fiscal crisis has seen an abundance of meme trends that unveil the frustrations of the citizenry after decades of corruption, react to the recent imposition of a Fiscal Control Board, and draw on the island’s thorny history as a colony of the U.S. Who else, but a godless Richard Dawkins to coin the term “meme”? The evolutionary biologist and …

Black and White and Back: Reversed Negatives in Rula Halawani’s series “Negative Incursions”

by Sherena Razek Figure 1 Rula Halawani, Untitled XII, Negative Incursion series, 2002, archival print, 90 x 124 cm, edition of 5. Photograph courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery. Write down! I am an Arab I have a name without a title Patient in a country Where people are enraged My roots Were entrenched before the birth of time And before the opening of the eras Before the pines, and the olive trees And before the grass grew – Mahmoud Darwish, “Identity Card”1 Acclaimed Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish expresses the inherent frustration of the Palestinian condition of invisible visibility in his 1964 poem “Identity Card.”2 Addressing an existence that is often negated, confined, and erased under Israeli colonial occupation, Darwish’s poetry speaks to a population that since 1948 has been constantly watched, but never seen. Half a century later, Darwish’s poetry maintains its relevance as the occupation continues to suppress and expand its hold on Palestinian territory. In 2002 during the Second Intifada, or Second Palestinian Uprising, Israeli Defence Forces launched “Operation Defensive Shield,” the …