Under the Waning Crescent 🌘
Thoughts and Reflections under the Curved Sickle Shaped-Moon
I decided to take a break from writing and revising (sure, it’s a little longer of a break than I should be taking). 🗓 I’m trying to keep up with sending these (news)letters because I want to connect with friends, loved ones, and community members since I’m not active on a variety of social media ecosystems. Sure, I might lurk from time to time, but even that has lost its appeal because so much of what I see/read/hear looks, feels, and sounds like…
noise. A good friend asked me how I get my news and I replied, “Well, I started reading way more newsletters from various media outlets (Slate, The New Yorker, New York Times, Vice, NPR, The Economist, Hyperallergic, etc.) and some of my favorite artists and writers.” I acknowledge some people sell their work or services via social media. I get it. You’ve got to promote, do outreach, and get that money. But it has been refreshing to be focused on work, writing, research, and art making with very little distraction this past year.
I might lurk from time to time, but even that has lost its appeal because so much of what I see/read/hear looks, feels, and sounds like…
Under this waning crescent moon, I’m trying my best to continue writing and revising my dissertation. After five years of being in a doctoral program, I’ve learned so much as I’m nearing the end of this process. For instance, the dissertation is NOT a book. To confirm, this is true (unless, you get a book deal while you’re in grad school and this is quite rare, but it happens). There is so much more research, writing, and far more revising to do on this gargantuan paper. While I don’t like the questions, “What are your plans? What’s next?,” I will say that one of the things I plan on doing after I’m done is delving into the process of turning the dissertation into a book, which will probably take me 2-3 years of further research, revising, interviewing, and field work (and art making) for me to get it to a place where I would even want to prepare and submit a book proposal. Now, you’re probably wondering, “What is your dissertation on?” I’m glad you asked (well, not really because I’m always trying to figure out how to explain ideas and concepts from all this research, but I digress, which I’m quite good at). Then again, I’ve learned to circle back around when my thinking and writing become circuitous. 🤓
Let me share this before I tell you what I’ve been thinking and writing about. Over the height of the pandemic, I did my qualifying exams (QEs) and my prospectus defense. For those of you not familiar with the process, the QEs are essentially showing your committee that you know your various fields of study (my focus areas or fields of study include: feminist media histories, computational media, critical medical anthropology, technology, race and ethics). During this milestone, you’re showing your conversancy with the foundational texts of your fields. As for the prospectus defense, you’re expected to provide a relatively detailed research outline, methodological approach(es), and the artworks related to your dissertation project. I’ve been told repeatedly, that the dissertation is my opportunity to speak to my interventions within the aforementioned fields, but also, to make some claims and what is at stake for me and the communities, students, peers, and colleagues I want to be in dialogue with.
I’ve been thinking about how humans are trained to speak and communicate in specific jobs such as telephone operators and 911 dispatchers. From emergency infrastructures to voice recognition and speech generation, I’m curious about the creation of speech corpora for smart technologies and how they are programmed to interact with us.
All that being said, my dissertation is on our sonic futures. 🔊 More specifically, I’ve been thinking about how humans are trained to speak and communicate in specific jobs such as telephone operators and 911 dispatchers. From emergency infrastructures to voice recognition and speech generation, I’m curious about the creation of speech corpora for smart technologies and how they are programmed to interact with us. I examine a wide array of media that includes, films, training videos, DIY instructional media on social media platforms (i.e. TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, etc.), advertisements, and, of course, new media and digital artworks (especially performance works).
Originally, my dissertation was supposed to be on (human) DNA as media since I was writing (a lot, and researching) about race and genomics earlier on in my program (I intend on returning to this work in the future). I ended up writing about voice recognition, speech synthesis, and assistive technology because of one minor (not so minor after all) fascination I’ve always had (it started when I worked in biotech) with interactive voice response systems (IVRS). I started to think about alternative forms of interactive fiction and electronic literature, which is a huge part of my artistic practice.
To get a sense of what I’m researching, I included a 1926 Bell System’s Training for Service recruitment film (running time: 8:55). I’ve written a visual and textual analysis of this media in the first chapter of my dissertation. Feel free to reach out with any questions. ☎️ Inspired by my partner, I would like to make my dissertation available to the general public through open access. If you’re interested, make sure to connect with me and I’ll keep you posted on that process.
Before I go, I’ll share that I have an upcoming class that I’m co-teaching/developing with two of my favorite people, An (Ana) Xiao Mina and Xiaowei R. Wang for The Shipman Agency. Please check it out, pass it on to anyone you feel might be interested, and/or sign up and work with us! It will be fun and our hope is that it will kickstart a writing project you’re trying to get off the ground or the workshop series will enable you to finish something you’ve been working on…all while using tarot as a guiding framework on how to develop a writing practice and creative rituals. Oh, and don’t forget to check out Five and Nine. 😉
If I’ve shared anything you’re curious about or you would like to share an interesting story or resource(s) (i.e. books, articles, videos, etc.) related to voice recognition or smart technologies, please don’t hesitate to connect.
Please take good care and until next time! 👋🏽 🤓 ❤️