Editorial 49: Code

Welcome to #49: this is the CODE issue.

CODE, as in:

– to extract meaning from; to decode or to be coded as (morse code, hanky codes, gender codes, codes of conduct)
– a system of symbols used to represent a secret or encrypted meaning (genetic code, binary code, locker code, access code)

The cover image is from Maandeeq Mohamed’s “somehow I found you” project- a working group she initiated on black archival practices. The group traces how histories of black queer and trans art acts require queer engagements with the archive. In lieu of the empiricism/recorded evidence that could never account for black life, the group takes up oral histories, zines, and internet ephemera, all to ask: what happens when we look at our absence from the archive not solely in terms of loss/erasure, but also as providing new modes of archiving/”storying” black queer and trans histories? When our lives are on the line, how are we to find out about each other? What if we were to consider our selfies and 3 A.M. social media posts as a different kind of black queer/trans archiving? Examining the politics of canonization (who gets to be archived and why?), and what it means to be archived in institutions that collapse “diversity” into the settler colonial project, the group asks: who is listening to us, and how do our works reach one another?

Video-sound-performance artist lamathilde shares with us Tropisme Mathildien, a zine that explores living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following a shooting. We accompany lamathilde on a journey through her altered state of consciousness as she assess the thoughts and experiences that constitute a normal reaction to a traumatic event, but that have required a decoding and recoding of ‘normalcy’ as processed by her brain and body, and mediated through relationships and daily encounters.

In You’re Like a Translator of the Past: Anna & Elizabeth’s Queer Historiographic Methods, Elliott Kuecker explores Anna & Elizabeth, an old-time folk duo who unearth and decode songs from the archives, to reveal that their song composition and performance techniques align with queer historiographic methods that emphasize affective history, everyday people, and an intimacy with what is dead or outmoded.

Zoë Chan and Mark Clintberg reflect on their collaborative research project Everyday Cooking, Cooking Every Day (2014), which explores domestic cooking as a potential model for artistic and curatorial practice. As we learn, part of the project had Chan and Clintberg hosting a series titled “10 Meals, 10 Days,” where they prepared meals with and for a range of people working within the Montréal arts milieu. During these meals, the groups discussed what lessons could be learned from cooking at home and considered how these lessons could be applied to their professional lives.

Anne-Marie Santerre employs dance to negotiate and create opportunities for interactions between disabled and non-disabled communities. For Santerre, mental health issues are a subject surrounding by stigmas that has been erased from history as a positive, productive aspect, part of daily lives. In Representation of Mental Health Issues: Confronting Social Codes Through Dance Santerre elucidates four facets of dance in order to advance an awareness around mental health issues and confront the social codes around the common understanding of mental health.

Rena Bivens shares with us a personal trajectory of learning words and ideas that have helped Bivens understand sexual violence, including how to deal with it, think about it, and work towards alleviating it. Coding Sexual Violence, or Realizing your ‘Survivor’ Identity is Part of the Problem, offers a snapshot in time of the types of questions Bivens now grapples with, which she articulates as the concerns about the recursive effects of ‘survivorhood’ codes and the disappointment from others that have surfaced when she has drawn on such alternative codes.

In #FreeBree: Witnessing Black Artivism Online, Sarah Brophy draws attention to the multimodal quality of Bree Newsome’s action to remove of the Confederate flag from the SC State Capitol on June 27, 2015. Brophy argues that Newsome leveraged Black aesthetics and modes of interactivity including virality and relay in order to carry out what Christina Sharpe has described as “wake work.” Newsome’s action thus interceded in antiblackness and white supremacy in on and offline contexts simultaneously.

Clarissa Ai Ling Lee and Wai Sern Low consider how scientific discoveries depend on the mediation of image rather than the targeted entity. Such mediation, as the authors assert, is made possible by code created with the intention of navigating, managing, and making sense of data stacks collected and collated from multiple sources. In Speculative Code: Mediating the Virtual-Reality of Emergent Science Lee and Low explore code as an informational narrative constituted from incoherent raw data and as a speculative tool to explore unknown subjectivities. The authors demonstrate the processes through which code visualizes the non-material into being, and turns the raw data of unknown quality into a narrative of emergence

Krystin Gollihue explores the ways in which code interacts with body, memory, disability, connectivity, and desire. “The project considers”, writes Gollihue, “how code creates a lived sensation of the self, and how this sensing can feed back onto other systems of connection and disconnection.”  In T0UCH1NG N01SE reveals how the traces that we leave – what show up in a Google search or the mountainous scars on a body – are emergent configurations of the ways we interact, intra-act, connect, and disconnect.

Jessica Kolopenuk (Cree) experiments with a writing exercise called 100s to begin piecing together a critical indigenous theory of her personal embodiment and connection to place as an indigenous woman. Red Rivers explores the physicality involved in shaping Kolopenuk’s relationships to her direct maternal lineage and female relatives, her non-human relatives including the white feather and the moon, and the Red River, which flows through Kolopenuk’s homeland. Kolopenuk’s experiment in writing is interlaced with an engagement with the genetic articulation of “Native American DNA.”

Adrienne Crossman shares with us images from the exhibition in plain sight. The body of work charts Crossman’s personal queer history and shifting identity from childhood to adolescence into early adulthood and the present. Many of the pieces have overt references to well-known pop-culture icons, objects and media that helped to shape my understanding of and feelings toward queer and lesbian identity. This body of work entails the decoding of popular culture with an attempt to locate queer potential in children’s media and toys through the often non-human non-binary role these characters take on.

After ten incredible years, 2018 marks the final year of NMP. After this, we have two issues left before we officially close shop, and the next issue will be guest edited by the incomparable Dayna McLeod, one of NMP’s co-founders in 2009. It’s been an unbelievable journey and a labour of love that we could not have done alone. We are eternally indebted to Tamara Shepherd (our amazing copy editor), to all the NMP regulars, contributors past and future, and to readers and supporters of the project in so many ways.

Happy new year,

Andrea Zeffiro, Mél Hogan and M-C MacPhee