In Other Words
Oct 23 2020

The case in which I have no memory (of my own words)

I dug out an old programming project from 2014 and fixed a few bugs. It’s called Artist Rooms — after the collection of the same name at the Tate Gallery. Reading the code I wrote 6 years ago is not unlike reading my old diary from middle school: I know it was me who typed those lines and penned those words, but I can hardly remember writing any of it.

(What I also don’t remember: using a glitter pen in a yellow-covered notebook at the age of 11 & why errors are called “bugs” in programming.)

When I talked to her, my mother was amazed that I still remembered how to code. “It’s like language,” I said, “I might get rusty, but I don’t think I will forget it totally. Plus, I worked too much back then —”

“Yes, you did.”

“It’s forever burned into me. Probably forever altered my brain.”

I told my mother I was feeling down the other day. “I thought of what you told me about my earliest days. Then I thought, oh, this sadness makes a lot of sense.”

I have no memory of my earliest days. I only summon up images based on my mother’s recount.

She said, apologetically, “would it be better if I never told you about those times?”

“No. I’d much rather feel sad knowing why I feel sad than to feel sad blindly.”

I read the wikipedia page of Grace Hopper, a woman computer scientist in the 1950’s United States. While she was working on a Mark II Computer at Harvard University in 1947, her associates discovered a moth that was stuck in a relay [an electrically operated switch]; the moth impeded the operation of the relay…For many years, the term bug had been in use in engineering. The remains of the moth can be found in the group’s log book at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

The case in which I do not see myself in another’s words

In a recent email, one of the organizers from the Kranj Collage Festival in Slovenia alerted me that the festival had started and that I could read about my work on page 72 of the catalogue. I clicked on the digital publication and found the following:

1) Via Google Translate (GT): Her way of the collage method is marked by a very subtle use of combining shots of reflective and prose surfaces. In this way, on the spectrum between more expressive, formalistic research and, on the other hand, realism, we place it on the latter, as it approaches cinematic visual effects through illusionist fusion.

I am not sure if I understand my work with this abstract description. I do like the term prose surface, though. It has the potential of meaning.

2) (GT) Under the exhibit she wrote: You are I am the reflection is you. The collage of words can be read in several ways: you are me, I am you as a reflection and as a reflection I am you. It opens up the question of identity and otherness, which connects it if we highlight just a few of the most famous, with Lacan’s famous reflection on the role of the mirror stage, Sartre’s double structure of being-on-himself and being-on, and the empathetic vision of Second French writer Victor Hugo vase identity of the identity of all people.

The first time I heard of the term “OWG” — Old White Guy — I chuckled and thought of it as a clever, satirical summary of partriarchy, authority and intellectualism. I refuse to acknowledge the canonical status of OWGs — espeically their so-called being “famous” — without questioning the context and system that grant them such privileged positions.

There is one too many OWG in the paragraph and I feel misrepresented in the description.

Provoked, I can articulate my own position as an art writer: it is the art writer’s responsibility to be critical about over-cited OWGs. The writer can challenge assumptions by amplifying voices that are previous unheard and under-represented and by problematizing the context of discourses developed decades ago.

In my thesis, I wrote about hosting a dinner party with André Bazin, Andrei Tarkovsky, John Berger and Ellen Kuras. Needless to say, the OWGs at this dinner were a bit stiff. In the end, I was very glad to be able to share solidarity with Kuras, a woman cinematographer. (Also — I’d give Berger the credit of being one of the good ones.)

3) My name is listed under Kitajska.

To my dismay, my name and origin have been used, once again, to perform a nationality without my consent.

At least from now on I have a new answer to those unthinking where-are-you-from questions — I am from kiii-taaaj-skaaa. I’d like to introduce some hesitation to the stereotyping that comes with that question.

(If the questioner happens to speak Slovenian, my answer might change to: I am from Tuam Tshoj.)