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6/20: Mass Ornament Essay/Book Proposal/Reading

Today is a bit harder because it’s really about me setting my own schedule and trying to differentiate between two projects that feel similar. Video artist Natalie Bookchin created a piece in 2009 called Mass Ornament that culls together incidental moments of people dancing on Youtube to create a longer more “realized” piece of digital choreography. I’ve been obsessed with the piece for years and want to write about it. I’m very interested in how Bookchin takes seemingly unimportant, banal, or “low” moments from Youtube videos in order to construct a highly realized, artistic, or “high” piece of art out of them. These are all arbitrary designations. I think what I’m most interested in is using Mass Ornament as a model for engaging digital performance of everyday life on sites like Youtube, Tumblr, or Twitter–investigating the small acts of everyday life, considering them in their full force as deeply political and complex, moving beyond calling them banal or low culture. Put another way, I want to use the way that Bookchin composes Mass Ornament as a model to engage other sites of digital performance of everyday life, other sites of small acts of repair, small acts of care, and speak back to the false hierarchy of high/low culture placed on so much of digital culture.

As a way of starting I’ll be editing a document I pitched as a book proposal to the Feminist Scholars Digital Workshop working group of HASTAC in May, a brand new blank Google doc about Mass Ornament (these two things may become one thing eventually), and sometime in the afternoon switch to reading The Politics and Poetics of Transgression and typing reading notes as I go. You can link to any of these documents to search me out and have the ability to comment where you see fit.

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