Friday, December 10, 2004

My mini-tour of Australia continues. I'm now in Perth, Western Australia, at the CSAA conference at Murdoch University. It's about 35 degrees today, so relatively cool. No clouds. Animals named quokkas. Snake alerts in the campus hallways. Strangeness everywhere. For example, there are papers on sweat, the politics of male body hair, and blogging (but its a cultural studies conference; we expect nothing less strange). Jean, Jane, Melissa and I gave our papers yesterday and our panel went really well. A lot of people especially appreciated the ways in which our papers were engaged with each other, which is gratifying, as we prepared this panel via email for the better part of 9 months. It's a nice model, we think, especially compared to panels which get organised by the conference under general rubrics like "Queer" or "Gender," where the papers are sometimes not only non relevant to one another, but sometimes un-usefully interfere with one another. It made the question session afterwards feel cohesive--productive for us and the audience. We're hoping, as a next stage of work together, to publish our papers as a collection of some sort.

For INCITE's interests, Ben Highmore gave a really nice keynote address this morning on design, where he highlighted the ways in which the designed world acts upon bodies, homes, and cultural practices generally. He took carpet, radio and teapots as case studies, and in historicising their emergence (which has resonances with my paper, w/r/t points of emergence for new technologies), produced interesting observations like, for example: the introduction of carpets to homes contributed to furniture being made which sat closer to the floor (which was now softer and nicer to sit on). He follows this trajectory of analysis in looking at the designed world, tracing the effects of design. Nice work, and historical, which always makes me a bit weak in the knees, especially in relation to new media and technology, where the historical is so ofter preterit.

Another day of conference to go. Then a few days of rest in Perth, and I begin the journey home on the 15th.