(by Simone Bodmer-Turner)
This week we presented our Creative Projects to the class.
Day One: Monday, November 28th
Thomas started us off. Thomas used his kinextors to demonstrate an assemblage that was made up of the parts of the kinextors, the instructions, his desire to use his hands, his childhood, the way his parents raised him, and more to demonstrate how all of these ‘things’, phyisical and non-physical contributed to the kinextors creations he made.
“The Agency of a Library Book: Teaching Actor-Network Theory in Terms a 5-Year-Old Can Understand”
Samuel went second since his also related to childhood. Samuel wrote a hypothetical children’s book that was intended to introduce an object-oriented approach early on to children. His book traced how a child could check out a library book. The book was very specific in focusing on all the minor processes that we never think of when we order a book from a library. Who talks to who, who orders the book, who publishes the book, who pieces together the actual paper, ink, and glue etc. In this way, a child reading the book would consider all the parts of the assemblage that produces the effect of the child receiving the book from the library.
“Distributive Authorship and the Creative Process”
Austin went next, giving us some insight into the writing process that he has been going through in writing a story. For Austin, many things effect the way he works and what he writes about: every single one of his experiences he’s ever had, the experiences his friends have confided in him, where he is sitting when he writes, the type of paper (legal pads only!) he uses, the writing utensil he uses (only ones he finds!), the music he is listening to at the time (radiohead was an example), etc. All of these infinite experiences and factors contribute to the product he is composing acting as an example as an assemblage that, although the parts are not all purposely acting towards one product, combine to produce what Austin will hopefully one day publish.
“Pecans and Pecan Pie”
Paige went next, exciting us all with a piece of pecan bun. Then she passed around a whole, shelled pecan as well and told us not to eat either. She then presented, tracing how the pecan in the shell is the crucial part of the pecan bun, but then asked us which we would rather eat? We all responded that we would have preferred the pecan bun. She joked that that was too bad for us because she had poisoned the pecan bun (a few of us looked shocked because we had already snuck bites…) but then we were allowed to eat the pecan bun afterall.
“The Lais of Autumn de Charleston: An Object-Oriented Renaming and Retelling of Marie de France’s Lais”
Autumn went next presenting her own version of a few of the lais we read this semester. She had taken the lais and re-written them focusing on an important non-human actant rather than the humans, usually a noble knight, that the lais plot originally followed. In her re-write of Guigemar she focused instead on the hermaphroditic deer than the wounded knight and in Laustic she focused on the nightingale instead of the two lovers separated by a short wall. She also made these stories into objects themselves by creating small books with her new main characters/actants represented on the front.
“An Hour in the Life”
Josh and Maranda wrapped us up for the day presenting their video that examined how daily routines can show how we are affected by outside-actants. In the video Maranda demonstrated how she was pulled and pushed by the actants around her when she was deciding what to make for dinner, when she was eating, when she was watching tv, when she was listening to music, when she was talking on the phone, and when she was showering. It was difficult to hear to video but some of the object oriented information Josh talked about while narrating was how what we learned in Bennett’s Edible Matter chapter governed what Maranda decided to eat and how she felt while eating it as well as how the “shuffle” setting on her ipod had an agency of it’s own.
Day Two: Wednesday November 30th
We walked into class on Wednesday to be pleasantly surprised by a piece of paper with medieval graphics on it, a set of three paints, and a feather-paint brush.
“The Writing’s on the Skin: The Medieval Agency of Animals”
Erin started us off with her creativity-demanding presentation that allowed us to paint the medieval-printed pieces of paper in front of us while she talked. Erin had researched what medieval texts had originally been printed on and found out that it was in fact most commonly animal skins. She believed that for people reading these texts in medieval times that because of the skins they would be reading from, that these people would have been a lot more aware of the presence and agency of animals in the story like the hermaphroditic deer, the wolf-knights in the two werewolf lais, the nightengale, and the weasel.
Love Game: Resisting Objectification through Avant-garde Fashion”
Victor went next and presented to us how Lady Gaga has been successful in de-objectifying herself as a woman and been able to overthrow and surprise people who try to nail her down as one thing or another. In the clip of the music video we watched, “Bad Romance”, Victor pointed out how she is standing still in a room, surrounded by crystals, encircled by men just looking at her as if she is an object just like the crystals are. Then we see her break free from this bondage by morphing physically into something else. We see this morphing through her oddly-shaped Alexander McQueen clothing and her accentuated thin waist. Then she marches up to one of the men who has been staring at her and lights him on fire. In this action we see her overcoming the objectifying stares and asserting her agency.
“Laustic for Little Ones”
Philip went next presenting his puppet show that told the story of Laustic. Like Samuels presentation, Philip presented in this way to make Marie de France’s lais approached in an object-oriented way to give an example of how the concepts we have been studying this semester can be accessible to children. Philip performed the lai with his sock puppets and wonderfully entertaining voice impersonations, placing emphasis on the ‘things’ that we had talked about that had agency in Laustic like the short wall that separated the lovers and the nightingale that was so wrongfully killed.
Edible Matter Stew: What’s in You?
Finally, Max, Marion, Rachel, and Simone presented their movie about making a medieval pottage. The production of the pottage, from the ingredients that went into it, to the malfunctioning crock-pot, to finding the sharpest knife, to tearing up over the onion (even though he was determined he wouldn’t!), all worked together in an assemblage to produce the pottage that we ate in class. They also included elements of Jane Bennett’s chapter on Edible Matter that talked about the agency of potato chips and how it is almost not the mind that decides to eat the potato chips but the agency the potato chips have over your hand as you keep reaching for more. This was demonstrated throughout the video by Max, Marion, Rachel, and Simone continuously reaching absent-mindedly for the Pringles.