The Right to Look is more our duty than a “right”


Book Cover: The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality by Nicholas Mirzoeff

“RSVP for the Book Launch for Nicholas Mirzoeff’s
The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm at 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor, New York, NY

Space is limited and reservations are required. To RSVP, please visit: http://bitly.com/nicholasmirzoeff.

Register to attend a reception celebrating the publication of The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (Duke University Press, 2011), by Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU.
In The Right to LookNicholas Mirzoeff develops a comparative de-colonial framework for visual culture studies, the field that he helped to create and shape. Casting modernity as an ongoing contest between visuality and countervisuality, or “the right to look,” he explains how visuality sutures authority to power and renders the association natural. Encompassing the Caribbean plantation and the Haitian revolution, anticolonialism in the South Pacific, antifascism in Italy and Algeria, and the contemporary global counterinsurgency, The Right to Look is a work of astonishing geographic, temporal, and conceptual reach.”This event is free and open to the public.

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I studied with Nick during a semester “abroad” at NYU, yes, venturing beyond the 14th street divide counts as abroad for many New York City graduate students! (joke). That spring, I took a class in visual culture called “Modernity and Climate Change” in the Media Culture and Communication Studies Department. The class was simply amazing, with the range of discipline and perspectives represented. Our group conversations were candid, intense, exciting and enriching. Nicholas was a confident leader and didn’t overly direct the conversation or derail fruitful trains of thought.

I invited him to speak at the Ninth Annual Nature Ecology Society Colloquium where he delivered a talk “Islands of Justice: Imagining Climate Change. He made a big splash with they way he integrated images, and audience assumptions and cultural readings of climate change images and information, specifically that of islanders around the world whose lives are changing at the prospect of climactic shifts and sea-level changes.

He was a truly welcome addition to our roster, a major coup, I might add, and  he represented the start of a rich relationship between NES and NYU. I found him to be an engaging speaker, brilliant thinker, witty, real and personable!

I definitely recommend that people who grapple with visual studies and / or use digital media (as a theoretical foundation, for data collection, analysis or presentation) should attend. If you tell him I sent you, it’ll elicit a smile!

Let me know if you decide to go, I’d love to hear about it!

 Shawndel

Speaking Engagement: New Media and the Academy


On Friday December 2, 2011, I will be presenting at the City University of New York Information Technology Conference at  John Jay College, 899 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY 10019 from 9:30-11:00 am, Room TBD

One view of Dallas "Giving Face"!

I am very excited to travel to my hometown to connect with my colleagues and friends, after two months away in Dallas, Texas (city of rainbows!). Technically I will play part in two panel discussions by preparing comments and visuals, however I will only be able to *physically attend one because unfortunately, the sessions were scheduled concurrently. Both panels will discuss highly innovative, student-focused digital ventures at the Graduate Center, and I feel honored that my vision, work  and enthusiasm warranted the invitations to present and take part. And I have enjoyed preparing the slides and thinking about various approaches to the two projects.

I worked in the CUNY New Media Lab for two and a half years on digital project to supplement my doctoral research. I continue to put finishing touches on the project – such as filling in the digital archive or car ads, and upgrading the website template once the New Media Lab installs the newest version of WordPress. Over the years, I’ve cultivate a unique expertise which allows me to conceptualize digital and visual interventions for academic research, presentations and pedagogy. As a result, my role in the New Media Lab morphed to allow me to share my knowledge with incoming and fellow College Assistants within the lab. I have been fortunate that Managing Director Andrea Vasquez and Project Advisor Aaron Knoll respect and support my creative ventures and solid knowledge base in the practical digital humanities.

This panel is scheduled for December 2 at 9:30am – 11:00am at John Jay College 899 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY 10019, room TBD

Digital Technologies and Academic Research: The New Media Lab a Dozen Years Later
A roundtable of CUNY Graduate Center doctoral students, faculty members and administrators will reflect on the changes in digital technologies and the impact they have had on academic scholarship that has been developed and nurtured at the Lab. A series of short presentations, copiously illustrated, will explore such topics as building digital tools, the relationship between pedagogy and technology, the effect of new technologies on academic careers and what we envision for the Lab’s future.

Andrea Ades Vásquez, NML Managing Director, CUNY Graduate Center
Aaron Knoll, NML Student Advisor, CUNY Graduate Center
Shawndel Fraser, NML Doctoral Student Researcher, CUNY Graduate Center
Claire Fontaine, NML Digital Research Fellow /and Doctoral Student, CUNY Graduate Center
Wendy Luttrel, Professor of Urban Education and Social Personality Psychology, CUNY Graduate Center

The Second (concurrent) panel presentation offers a look at Student-led initiatives, specifically through the Doctoral Students Council (DSC). The Doctoral Students Council is a dynamic, highly participatory and forward thinking, policy-making body which represents all the graduate students at the CUNY Graduate Center. Three years ago, the DSC implemented the WordPress based system OpenCUNY, of which I was an early adopter for my research blog. Later I adapted it to publicize the highly regarded, annual Nature Ecology Society Colloquium, for which I was co-organizer. Back then, we were unable to get access to the original domain and host server assigned to us by CUNY. The lack of access stemmed from the lack of a methodical methods for passing on institutional knowledge, and the steep learning curve for html and other coding languages, which that particular website required. The WordPress-based OpenCUNY site was the first of many steps toward a more democratic group website and group functioning.

The panel will consist of student group representatives who will discuss the ways they use OpenCUNY. The purpose, all toward a deeper conversation about the strengths and growth opportunities inherent in student-led digital initiatives.

Fostering Student-based Media: A Look at The OpenCUNY.org Academic Medium
For three years OpenCUNY has worked with Graduate Center students to develop open-source environments for their courses, conferences, research, organizations, initiatives and activism. This roundtable brings together the coordinators and participants of OpenCUNY to explore the benefits and challenges of fostering student-based participatory media. An overview of OpenCUNY’s development, participatory governance, technological configuration and plans will be provided. A sample of participants’ media projects will also be discussed.

John D. Boy, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/gcsoc
Morgan Buck, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/hmny
Gregory Donovan, Coordinator, OpenCUNY
*Shawndel N. Fraser, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/nature
Margaret Galvan, Coordinator, OpenCUNY
Keirsten Greene, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/mediated
Keith Miyake, 2010-11 Board Member, OpenCUNY
Monique Whitaker, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/dschealth

*Since I won’t be able to present in this panel, fellow Nature Ecology Society Co-Organizers Bijan Kimiagar and Jennifer Pipitone will present our opencuny.org/nature website, innovations and challenges.

I hope to see you there! If you attend, do come by and say “hello”!

~Shawndel

Make your mark on the Earthquake


Click here to Make your mark and write a note and add pics to the map above.

Lets record this moment and connect with others who experienced something similar. Feel free to note your emergency plan in your marker as well. 

Where were you when the earthquake shook the east coast?

I was at work when the floor shook and the building swayed.  A co-worker asked “Do you feel that?” “what the shaking? It feels like we’re having an earthquake.” I replied.  Then I started searching the news outlets: Reuters, AP, NYT, I googled “New York Earthquake” during the tremors. No dice. No news…they were probably waiting for editor’s approval 🙂

However, a little twitter fu revealed many New Yorkers tweeting for corroboration of the the sickening sway. None of us seemed to really believe it. We evacuated to the basement and outside the building, then eventually informed that it was safe to return. Events seemed to unfold in normal time, however my emotions had spiked;  so and I decided that the best way to calm myself was to think of an emergency travel plan.  I did not have a mind to twitpic the evacuation or to capture sound, but I did keep my wits about me and remained calm throughout.

What would you do if the subway tunnels collapsed and buses were unavailable?

Do you live in an outer borough? Do you and your loved ones have a plan in case of major evacuation? A meet-up site in the event that you become separated? Ladies, do you have extra nibbles  in your heavy purse, in case of emergency hunger and thirst? Fellas, do you have a purse? 

Today reminded me of the necessity of a plan. 

No matter how far-fetched, unnerving or unnecessary the rational mind might wish it, our social and economical worlds are changing. It follows logic that the physical world could also shift under our feet.  As the saying goes, prior planning prevents poor performance, so “thank you” @Sal_Castaneda for the reminder about emergency preparedness. Thank you to my other twitter friends and contacts who posted helpful links, the main on being the government preparedness site Ready.gov.

Stay grounded.

Archive Fever – Home of Authority


“As is the case for the Latin archivum or archium (a word that is used in the singular, as was the French archive, formerly employed as a masculine singular: un archive), the meaning of “archive,” is only meaning, comes to it from the Greek arkheion: initially a house, a domicile, an address, the residence of the superior magistrates, the archons, those who commanded.  The citizens who thus held and signified political power were considered to possess the right to make or to represent the law. On account of their publicly recognized authority, it is at their home, in that place which is their house (private house, family house, or employee’s house), that official documents are filed. The archons are first of all the documents’ guardians. They do not only ensure the physical security of what is deposited and of the substrate. They are also accorded the hermeneutic right and competence.”  ~Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever (1995)

Mushi-Shi is a poignant, visually lush and compelling anime (animated-show) that takes a alter-dimensional view of common ailments and situations we often dismiss. This particular episode conveyed Derrida’s outline of the lineage of the Archive and its relation to power, that it seems the creators of this either read Archive Fever, or Derrida studied traditional Japanese ways and means, or the concept of the Archive is so very rooted in authority that it cannot but express its true essence, even in anime. The particular connection of how these two things came to resemble each other is less interesting to me than the fact that one of my favorite shows neatly visualizes the work of one of the most opaque although brilliant minds of our time.

Creating my Research Website


I am in the midst of an exciting project. I am weaving together the long years of my PhD work until this point; my exploration of visuals, my readings, along with my budding knowledge of WordPress as a content management system / website / blog to assemble my multimedia research website. I’ve had a vision for 2 years now, and finally feel that I have enough [access to] information and resources to gather everything into a coherent, aesthetically pleasing whole.

I am of course still learning and creating knowledge about my subject, myths of nature within car ads in National Geographic Magazine, however, as an experiential and visual learner, this type of immersion refines my methods, and forces me to write my methods section of my paper.  This semester I am learning more about how to use Final Cut Pro, and it is prompting me to reassess my approach to the archive, my massive data set so that I can actually get at my core idea. The plan is to make short films about them, and massage a couple of publications from writing about what I learn from the process and the data.

think. Feel. Grow! is my mantra, my process and website. The site that I am working on is the storehouse for the public view of my research data, which is of course different from the content contained here and on my tumblr microblog. When the time is right, I will of course début it here on tfg!

Who Me, on TV?


You can find me at minute 6:30, although you should know that the entire segment of this CUNY-TV spotlight “Study With the Best” is  interesting. We filmed this about 8-months ago, and I distinctly remember how the day unfolded for me as I prepared for the interview and chose the visuals to accompany my discussion of my work, which was then, unexplored. My conceptualization of what I have to offer (any) academic discourse was very vague, and I had only just begun to explore visual practices in the most rudimentary of fashions. Today, I have a keener sense of graphic design norms, marketing and advertising ploys, and I now initiate conversations about novel approaches to interdisciplinarity, shaping an academic careers and new technological resources for (self) publishing and promotion.

In this segment, I appear at minute 6:32. I present quick glimpses of my visual projects and discuss why I choose  work in the new media lab. This is my first time seeing myself speaking and just “being” on television, my mannerisms, expressions and body language. At long last, I feel that my interests, expertise, professional network and blogging are converging to shape the beginning of what I intend to be a multi-faceted practice of engaging in new conversations through different media and methods with colleagues and friends in allied fields.

For professional networking, you can follow my Twitter Feed, “think. Feel. Grow!“,  you can check out what the New Media Lab has to say about me and of course, I am on Academia.edu

You can also write me at thinkfeelgrow at gmail dot com!

Shawndel Fraser Haiku #2

Visual Research
BloggingTweeting Leader
and Academic

Shawndel N. Fraser

Last Leaf’s Flip Book Animation on Toast!


Hey there my fellow Thinkers!

VIDEO: LAST LEAF by OK GO

Take a gander at this video by OK Go for their song Last Leaf. As a disciple and fan of novel forms of visuality (practice and media) in our visually cluttered world, this video is tops with me. the golden char on the pieces of toast serve as sepia toned background for the semi-related images in the foreground. The images don’t directly match the lyrics, however the emotions invoked by those images match the tone – harmonically and lyrically of the song. I see a real mastery of the media used by all those involved; mastery, a la martial arts, the visual artists involved (for example Geoff McFetridge), clearly have expert knowledge of their tools.  The band or at least their publicity team seems very aware of what “indie” is on the internet, in fact they say so on the BIO page of their website. Such a multilevel awareness shows itself as they cater to the medium of the internet with a quirky video, while simultaneously creating the indie quirky culture they seem to represent.  This very point is why I linked this entry to the Frontline Episode of the Persuaders wherein advertisers co-opt culture, repackage it, take it mainstream, and in so many careless hands, eventually destroys the essence which made it special in the first place.

I am a thinking, feeling person aimed toward growth in comprehension and stillness. I have no quarrel with the band OK Go, nor the skilled visual and production artists or marketing mavens that crafted and packaged this video. i took a peek at their tour schedule for the past year, fabulous stops I might add, and noted that the Billy-burg hipsters bought out ALL of the tickets when band OK Go performed here in Brooklyn. The hipsters have their own unique culture over there, and I can’t help but wonder whether this band (that they love so much) actually represents that hipster je ne sais quoi, or if their sponsored partnership with Samsung is the beginning of the very repackaging, mainstreaming and dilution of hipster culture. Truthfully, every blog, tweet and the inevitable proliferation of this neat music video futher seals this fate..

Woo Woo…Meta…

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Shawndel Frasera Haiku:

Visual Research
BloggingTweeting Leader
and Academic