A Vicarious Sense of Accomplishment

Thanks to end-of-semester business, which included a search committee that ate up at least ten hours a week for the past six or so weeks, I’ve made pretty much zero progress on my own projects. But I have seen some fantastic student work that reminds me of how much I enjoy working with students — and of how teaching and advising is just as much “my own work” as the next book project.

I’ll see if Morgen can send me a better image.

The parade of student successes began last week, when I stopped by the ITP thesis presentations. I had been invited to respond to these projects mid-stream and was excited to see how they evolved. First was Rune Madsen’s Versionize, “a web-based tool for iterating ideas individually or in groups,” which is coming along beautifully. Then the highlight for me was Morgen Fleisig’s “Visual Logic: Aesthetics of Computation,” a one-bit computer — “an absurdist testament to our social organization & industrial scale, and a study of the aesthetic potential of the modular components that make up the complex digital devices all around us.” It’s all that and more. I loved it. How can you not appreciate a project about which its creator can say: “I have already set my thesis on fire once.” There should be more fire involved in the thesis process.

60 Hudson Street – from Ben’s film

Speaking of which… Two of my own thesis advisees have submitted fantastic projects this semester. Ben Mendelsohn’s “Bundled, Buried, and Behind Closed Doors: Visiting New York City’s Concentrated Internet Infrastructure” is a hybrid video documentary and written project, and Andrew Nealon’s “Comic Aura: American Comic Book Culture and Conceptions of Authenticity in the Age of Digital Reproducibility” is a lovely written thesis.

And last Friday night my Libraries, Archives, and Databases class met to present their final projects (a few also presented in class that Tuesday). We had a great range of topics:

  • Talaandig soil painting and dance as archival practices
  • Belle da Costa Greene, J. P. Morgan’s librarian
  • Urban photography and the documentation of the ordinary
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ archive
  • Archiving dance performance and Labanotation
    • I particularly loved the following quotation from this project: “I go into the archive and a difference emerges, the archive gets messed up. At the same time it becomes visible through my body . . . My body makes the archive visible and at the same time, creates this difference.” – Martin Nachbar
  • Databases, storage, and spatiality
  • Information access technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • The materiality of books and the sensory experience of reading
  • The public libraries of Bogotá, Colombia
  • Image fidelity in digital archiving practice
  • Teenagers and libraries in Crown Heights, Brooklyn
  • Identity, affect, and materiality in the Lesbian Herstory Archives
  • The creation of the Fugazi Live archive (I’m somewhat personally invested in this project!)
  • “The Collapsible Archive” in the work of the Atlas Group
  • The Stasi archives
  • The public library as a potential base for a “truly public” internet

I really enjoyed this class (in particular, the students!). This semester was the first time I taught it, and I hope to have the opportunity to do it again.

 Stasi Archives via Wired:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *