blogs and blobs

I’d like to draw your attention to this ongoing series in the online version of the UK Guardian newspaper: A Transgender Journey by Juliet Jacques. It’s great to see a mainstream paper like the Guardian giving space to an account of nonheteronormative culture that is critical and thoughtful and informed by the marginal, conflicting worlds of LGBT culture – that acknowledges the familiar narratives without simplistically reproducing them.

I would be making this post regardless, I think, but I’m also a bit biased here. I met Juliet when we were both studying for MAs at Sussex, and have stayed in touch with her through many of the events she documents in her column. We’ve shared our discoveries of queer and trans theory and art, and I’ve learned a lot about modernism and football through our acquaintance. The last time we managed to meet up, which I think was a year ago, she mentioned that she really wanted to blog about her transition on the Guardian; so when I saw the first installment go up, I felt that little fizz of excitement and glee we have when we see a friend achieve one of their goals.

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I’m in London at the moment, and this week I went to an event at the BFI for the new issue of the queer literary journal Chroma. The theme was “Future Sex,” so I knew I couldn’t stay away. I was completely charmed by Dr Rachel Armstrong‘s presentation, which reminded me of many works of science fiction. Armstrong showed a short film she has made, “Protocells,” and gave an explanation of her work over its silence. She has filmed very simple cells, which are not alive according to standard definitions, and is fascinated by the ways they interact –– changing shape as they reach out for one another, splitting apart, sliding inside one another and converging.

Her video uses text to comment on what might be taking place between these blobs, and the experience of watching it and listening to her describe the experiment was very moving. It’s not predictable or obvious why these interactions take place, and Armstrong was talking about the importance of sitting with that lack of knowledge, of the potential for changing the dominant narrative of science and moving away from biological determinism if the conclusion, the result, were to be decentered. The talk was followed by a rather inspiring discussion of blob interaction as a way of thinking our own affective interactions with objects and beings that reach out to us and/or penetrate our boundaries.

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One thought on “blogs and blobs

  1. lestheprof

    Nice video. If you look at a lovely book called Vehicles by Valentino Braitenberg, (1986 – parts are on google books) there’s some really simple interactions between (equally simple, though abstract) entities that result in behaviours that can be anthropomorphised. But it’s really a thought experiment, rather than something done with biochemistry.

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