Internet as Playground and Factory

Christina McPhee


Christina McPhee (born Los Angeles, based in central coast and San Francisco, California) develops remote performance works, site-abstractiondrawing, and landscape assemblage in film and photography. She was a participating editor at Documenta 12 for -empyre-, Sydney. She was an invited artist in ‘Violence of Participation” at the Lyon Biennial 2007. “Tesserae of Venus”, a science fiction assemblage, is at Silverman Gallery San Francisco through December 5, 2009. Recent exhibitions include “Carrizo-Parkfield Diaries” at the American University Museum. Her most recent commission was for Thresholds Artspace Perth, with “La Conchita mon Amour,” also a project with support from the Experimental Television Center. She lectures in the Digital Arts and New Media graduate program, University of California-Santa Cruz. Her new media writing and artwork appear on DrunkenBoat, Soundtoys, Rhizome Artbase, and Neural.


Queer theory and the dichotomies of play and work

I am interested in exploring the potential of queer theory with regard to the "space" of internet-based play. I think that it's possible to develop a different understanding of what constitutes a relational, participatory space online and the power relations between subjectivities in the space of the internet through pursuit of some of queer theory's most notable modes of thought, especially, how identities self construct through embodiment and performance, and how a "queer" critique of social relations and aesthetic production online can extend much beyond stylings and performance of gender, and actually reach some new insights about how an aesthetics of play "works" online. By paying attention to the ways that language use and text may work in net based interfaces--both "corporate" and "opensource"-- I think we may adapt some of the strengths of queer theory's ability to analyze "non-normative" rhetoric. Considering both the conference theme of playground as a spatial metaphor, and specifically as a "scene" for political interactivity, I also am interested in how a democratic space evolves through the clash of performed identities-playground as a rough and tumble, potentially violent space of participation. I am considering how this constitutes a productive assemblage, how the very ambiguities of labour/play relations produce from the margins a new kind of social conscience from within the mix of so-called corporate control spaces and marginal open source fora. I am especially interested in how this play of relations actually returns us to a more intense experience of materiality and subjective presence; and I ask how queer theory may be adapted to challenge play/work and post-human/corporate dichotomies.