How can present-day witchcraft lead to important new practices of bioart, technofeminism and transhacktivism?
School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe presents a 5-wk online class dedicated to exploring contemporary witchcraft and biotechnologies.
/ Five-week Live* Online class begins 10. February ends 10. March
/ Every Wednesday, 7pm-9pm, CET
/ Small class of participants
Witches gain access to protected spaces through deviant pathways, twisted beings that they are. Are they twisted to begin with, or do they become distorted through necessity for such navigational means? This course will examine some of the historical underpinnings of, and resultant contemporary responses to, convoluted institutional restrictions around science and technologies concerned with the sexed body. Specifically, how present-day witches wend their ways around these structures, which are embedded with and reinforced by (colonial) capitalist modes of knowledge specialization and social classism.
Drawing predominantly on works of feminist scholars and witchcraft historiographers, we will explore how ideas about patriarchal capitalism have wrought a prominent, new witchy identity: artists who deliberately bend technologies towards counterhegemonic ends, revelling in the shapeshifting ‘witch’ as a natural fit for propagating circuitous access to high-tech manipulations of biological (and biotech knowledge) systems.
The importance of dissecting the sociocultural establishment and continued maintenance of a patriarchal ‘normal’ as it pertains to control of knowledge around biology and health care, is evermore salient as new biotechnologies are constantly developed faster than policies to mediate them. Also important to understand, is the subsequent medicalized and moralized othering of anyone who strays from the norm—through a process called deviantization.
In this five-week course, we will engage with the practices of bioartists, technofeminists and transhacktivists who work with materiality and mutability through tech magic. Through them, we will explore some key themes: posthuman interspecies relationships, transmogrification through tech, body materials as transgressive media, postnatural constructions of bodies, and spell-crafting.
Inspired by these artists and their works, together we will work hands on with kitchen science techniques to craft our own beautiful glass petri dishes from recycled materials, create microbial soups and self-portraits through at-home, DIY bacteria culture techniques, co-author the Bioart Coven manifesto through DIT (do-it-together) spellcasting, and toast to our successes by sharing our own home brews and recipes through an online closing ritual. There may be an opportunity for the future publication of some of the course artifacts we create together.
In this course you will be introduced to
· the world of (bio)technofeminist witchcraft
· how to reclaim deviance as a tool of contemporary witchcraft
· DIY hardware and wetware kitchen lab techniques
· co-authoring spells and making rituals
· kitchen science: microbial brewing and petri dish culturing using grocery store materials
· automatic membership in the Bioart Coven
Week 1: Introductions
This first act is about getting to know each other and learning about everyone’s background and expectations. What brought you to this course? What is it that you hope to learn and practice? Next, we’ll introduce the course itself and expected outcomes. Finally, we'll discuss Materiality and Mutability in Tech Magic – artists working with bodily changeability as transmogrification, body materials as transgressive media, and some of the health benefits of bodily autonomy.
Week 2: Feminist Fermentation
During the first half of the class, focus is on historical brewmasters (witches) leading to contemporary feminists who use the metaphor and methods of fermentation for agitating change. We'll also discuss ‘what is human?' and touch on ideas of the abject (Kristeva), disembodied material, the microbial self, and the illusion of separation.
The second half will be about making your own ferments/ deviant cultures (drawing on the expertise, if any, within the group of participants). A kombucha demo/ recipe + survey of artworks using the pellicule will lead to the question, 'is it collaboration?' We'll also discuss other fermentation-based art projects that lead us to ponder the instrumentalization of bodies/ women’s bodies/ animal bodies.
Week 3: Playing with the Microbial 'Body'
This class will focus on two workshops.
Workshop 1: DIY hardware – craft your own funky and reusable glass petri dishes with found glass and an easy to source tool.
Workshop 2: DIY Agar Plates (kitchen science) using materials sourced from the grocery store and mixing up unconventional nutrient substitutes. We'll demo body swabbing methods, soil sample dilution method, plate streaking methods (from swabs and liquid dilutions) and then let them grow!
Week 4: Double, Double, Toil and Trouble: Doubling the Self
This week, we'll start off with our microbiology follow up show-and-tell, and talk about what steps to take next for amplification and purification of your 'wild' cultures. Then, we'll move on in the second half to discuss mammalian tissue culture and the construction of 'bodies'. What are current multispecies entanglements in tech? And in multi-speciation, what organism takes precedent? In the latter part of the class, the focus is on Self as Material and looking at feminist performance art that investigates bodies, as well as artists experimenting via themselves using biotech rituals/performance.
Week 5: Spell-Crafting and the Bioart Coven Manifesto
We end with Manipulating Forces: What is a spell and how can we craft them for change? We'll examine existing technofeminist definitions of spells, spell-casting for change, and work together to write part of the Bioart Coven Manifesto and discuss possibilities for publication. The course will end with a closing ritual we all perform together.
Who is this course for?
This program is for artists and makers; witches, witchcraft enthusiasts and feminists; technophiles, hackers, and citizen scientists; students and curious, open minded thinkers; women, trans and nonbinary individuals and allies. No experience necessary.
The classes are live?*
Classes are 'live' meaning that you can directly interact with the instructor as well as with the other participants from around the world. Classes will also be recorded for playback in case you are unable to attend for any reason. For specific questions, please email info[at]schoolofma.org
Pricing (Tickets via Eventbrite*)
Artist / Student (Full Time)*
Generous Supporter Ticket*
We realise we're living in uncertain times. During this time, we are offering a limited number of pay-what-you-can solidarity tickets for this online class. Preference is given to women, POC, LGBTQ+ and persons from underrepresented communities in tech who would otherwise be unable to attend. We are a small organisation with no outside funding and like many, we are also in survival mode and we ask you to consider this when making your donation. We are greatly appreciative of your understanding and support.
WhiteFeather Hunter whitefeatherhunter.ca/
WhiteFeather Hunter is a multiple award-winning Canadian artist and scholar. She is currently a PhD candidate in Biological Arts at the University of Western Australia, supported by a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, Australian Government International RTP Scholarship and University of Western Australia Postgraduate Scholarship. Before commencing her PhD, WhiteFeather was a founding member and Principal Investigator of the Speculative Life BioLab at the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University (Montreal) from 2016-2019.
WhiteFeather's biotechnological art practice intersects eco- and technofeminism, witchcraft, micro- and cellular biology with performance, new media and craft. Recent presentations include at Ars Electronica, KIKK Festival, NZ Centre for Human-Animal Studies, University of the Arts Helsinki, and in numerous North American cities. WhiteFeather has conducted multiple collaborations with scientists, designers and artists: recent collaborative work with artist, Tagny Duff (Wastelands by Tagny Duff) received an Honourable Mention and STARTS prize nomination at Ars Electronica 2019.
Deadline: Saturday 2 January 2021 at 23:00h
Deadline: Sunday 28 July 2019 at 12:00h
Deadline: Monday 4 January 2021 at 18:00h