what is DATAROT?
« Queer fragility: to offer a meditation on fragility and how it can provide a queer connection, an odd, sometimes startling and always sensational connection, between what and who is deemed fragile » Sara Ahmed, 2016 [ source ]
Queer is not a brand. It is not a stamp to congratulate institutions that painfully include queer individuals — because the LGBTQIA+POC alphabet soup is too often reduced to a PC watery broth, making way to the G and peppering it with the L. Queer thinking allows us to re-think identities, to consider them through the borders that divide us. Queer politics allows in-between identities that refuse assignations and encourages us to think out of the box.
Queer politics outline a terrain to conquer agency. Being an agent, being potent, resisting marginalization, tokenization, invisibilization. Being marginal, a poster child or invisible: you can be all these things at once in a male-dominant, cisheteronormative environment. And when you are all these things at once, you go back to the body. You are one, and many. You have flesh. You have parts that respond, parts that resist. Sometimes these parts even resist you. You move and you talk, you sit and you work, you eat and you sleep. Sometimes, you cry. You have a body.
And if that specific, wonderful, queer body is constantly negated, the fact that you have a body is, strangely enough, acknowledged. Move that body, tailor it, wax it, muscle it and crossfit it. It must be white, able, slender, muscular — but never too much of a thing. Keep your body balanced. Balance means walking on a shoestring. That fragile equilibrium requires you to monitor what it is that you do with your body. How you keep it fed translates in calories. How you sleep is computed in hours. How many steps. How many gallons of water. Your body is a lot of numbers.
The practice of keeping records relative to health and daily needs falls under the umbrella of the quantified self. The expression was coined by Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly in Wired, in 2009. Since then, it has become a common term to describe the experiences and subjectivities generated by digital systems programmed to record the behaviors and habits of bodies. These systems generally take the shape of smartphone apps — although it could argued that bullet journals offer a similar exhaustive ability to track physical phenomenons on paper. As the body becomes data, its queer politics imply to ask: what is it that we quantify? And for what purpose? For whose benefit?
It seems obvious that health apps generally produce the body in terms of performance. Their horizon is the conquest of the good body: a body that is not sick, not tired, not fat, not too dark-skinned, not lazy. That body must be the foundation to a good career, a good life — to success. But queer bodies, by definition, failed the quantified self. They resist counting. They offer different layers of experience. How do you count dysphoria ? How do you measure trauma? How do you establish what foods are « good » for you? Do you want to establish what foods are « good » for you?
Bodies are not equal when faced with their commodification. Prescriptions are of course tougher for those who do not fit in. Moreover, a critical look on tracking apps should not lead us to discard them altogether. Tracking, if done from a place of agency, can help with a medical condition, with mental health. It can also provide a foundation for community building.
In short, counting can save lives.
Queer bodies need accounts more than they need a count. With Ahmed, we wish to explore queerness as fragility: Bodies ridden with the shame of not belonging to the norm, offering this weakness precisely as as site of resistance. We wish, then, to build a space with no legible borders, a space that rests on flexible boundaries where queer bodies can displace their work as quantifiable selves to work on themselves; to keep their labour and turn it into an act of self-care.
This space is
a GEODESIC DOME
a piece of tape to suggest a common ground
a space to care for one another
a space where bodies are queer
where bodies queer, beyond numbers
At least two people who will wander the space of MozFest with their equipment to propose time-related mini workshops during the two days of the event.
We can set camp everywhere that leaves 3 meters square for us, provided the camp does not obfuscate circulations.
The two « campers » will host their sessions in the Dome, a 3 meters wide geodesic dome covered in a tarpaulin. Activities will be offered, connected to the time of day. They will have one goal in common: de-quantify the body, queer it, to get a different perception of what you/we are.
The queer space of the dome will use tarot cards as a conversation tool, a device for care and a narrative thread. A story will be told each day, and each chapter of the story will be embodied by a card. Each chapter will introduce a session.