To Practice an Understanding that the World is Made with Alenda Chang

08 Mar, 2022

To Practice an Understanding that the World is Made with Alenda Chang

Shift Space 2.0 is a publication exploring new media landscapes and spotlighting the 2022 Knight Arts+Tech Fellows. Natalia Zuluaga was in conversation with BCNM alum Alenda Y. Chang and Jason Edward Lewis to talk about an understanding that the world is made.

Zuluaga said that she initially invited ecocritical and media theorist Dr. Alenda Y. Chang and digital media theorist and software designer Jason Edward Lewis to chat about the ways in which the development of future tech infrastructure is impacted and informed by climate precarity and, more broadly, to think through some of the entanglements between ideas of nature and technology. While the resulting conversation certainly does that, it also does so much more: it reveals how crucial the roles education, access, resource sharing, and kinship play in any future that unfolds.

Alenda shared that her work falls within the broader umbrella of environmental media studies, so she did a lot of thinking about infrastructure in relation to media industries, and her more recent work is drilling down into the world of digital modeling, so there’s that crossover between our work as well.

Quoted from Alenda Y. Chang's views:

"I don’t think I would qualify myself as an artist, even though I’ve done some game design and I’ve made films, but I think I share a similar sentiment that the value of art is in its ability to produce messiness. Not all art fits that label, so I would go back to my roots in rhetorical training and science and technology studies to say that it’s clear that information by itself or data, which we can question, are not going to always make the case for things like climate change and so we need those kinds of cultural forms of mediation to persuade and to provoke emotion and emotional response in people, and also to build social life. I feel like we need art and those other kinds of aesthetic intermediaries, including the form of games or collaborative play. It’s not necessarily just these utopian kinds of emotions but also addressing what seems like a calamitous rise in anxiety and mental health crises related to all of these things that we’re facing. I don’t know if I would say art is therapeutic, I guess we can debate this, but it allows the confrontation and the discussion that would help with that."

To listen to the full interview, please visit here!