Underhanded: Digital Digits, Manual Manipulation & Nonhuman Art

“In this lecture, interdisciplinary artist Katherine Behar presents her artwork and discusses how she leverages art in an “underhanded” critique of digital culture. Spanning high and low tech, and old and new media, her performances, videos, and installations draw our attention to the material realm, and scramble digital fingers with fleshy digits. Working hands reveal the urgency for memory in digital labor and ethics in user-tool relationships. Far from erasing embodiment, digital technologies reinscribe robotic surrogacy with gendered forms of servitude and production like “manual labor” or “handicraft.” The preciousness of the handmade collides with throwaway object culture and is inverted in the cruel disposability of the human work force. Even in the post-industrial shift to affective labor, a human touch is paramount. But what new hand-off is in store as we approach the logical extension of nonhuman scales of production: ecological collapse and the extinction of human life? Through deadpan extrapolation, and sensuous imagination, Behar’s art exposes an inglorious psychology in the objects and practices that surround technologies, as they waver briefly in the gap between emerging and obsolete. Using object-oriented feminism, Behar’s art connects feminist and post-colonial histories with posthuman solidarity.”

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