Silverfish Issue 001: Cyborgities


Dallas Fellini and Greta Hamilton

Editorial Note

When we first met to discuss the possibilities of this publication, our intentions were to fill a gap in programming for emerging artists and writers in Toronto. Falling into these categories ourselves, we felt impacted by a lack of opportunities that developed meaningful, long-term collaborations between artists and writers, and offered adequate time and support to produce new work. Over the course of a few winter months, we aired our grievances and dreamt up possibilities to put artists in dialogue with writers to produce interdisciplinary work. The Silverfish publication arose from a series of peer-led workshops that shifted in form over their five week duration. The workshops acted as a reading group, interdisciplinary skill exchange, resource pool, group critique, poetry reading, weaving circle, peer editing workshop, and in total serendipity, a time to relish in insights from collaborators we trust.

Our inaugural workshop series was organized around the theme of cyborgities. As facilitators, we presented cyborgities as both a framework for thinking through the interdisciplinary collaborations inherent to the program, and as a theoretical approach to imagine our bodies, ecologies, technologies, and communications in contemporary and future iterations. We classified the theory of the cyborg four-fold: material feminism, hybrid identity, post-human technology, and human non/organic. Our work was grounded by thinkers like José Esteban Muñoz, Donna Haraway, Eve Tuck, Tobias Rees and Agnieszka Kurant, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Paul B. Preciado, Rosi Braidotti, Fred Moten, Erin Manning, Octavia Butler—the list goes on.

Our togetherness in the workshops produced affinity. During these gatherings, our inaugural cohort, Jessica Kasiama, Alex Lepianka, Miao Liu, and B Wijshijer, offered their thoughts, writings, artworks, feelings, and practices as responses to the framework we set out. They left us fucked up by their deep insight into the theory and practice of cyborgities, and by their enthusiasm to share with each other new possibilities for the meaning of cyborg.

We face a real difficulty now in gathering our thoughts into a linear text. This challenge speaks to the ways in which our ideas were shared–unauthored, a communal intellectual labour poured into our discussions, grounded by an enthusiasm to simply be together. The words of this text are indebted to each of the participants, as their thoughts permeated our own interpretations, our knowledge now indistinguishable from the whole of the cohort. Moreover, we are indebted to Sameen Mahboubi, Benjamin de Boer, and MLA Chernoff, who offered their thoughts as facilitators and collaborators throughout the process. It was a really beautiful thing. And a really messy thing. And we’re so deeply grateful to each one of you for your time and offerings, and to have shared this process with you.

The discussions that occurred in the workshops culminated in the production of four works, each made in conversation with one another to enable an interdisciplinary dialogue. Two artists were paired with two writers (Miao and Alex, B and Jessica) to share ideas, directions, and insights.

Alex and Miao approach the cyborg as identity. In “Dispute Codicology,” Alex develops a method of codicological research that examines the epistemology and history of the book as cyborg, and in turn, crafts an allegory for interior identity manifested through exterior surfaces. Miao’s weavings fuse together manifestations of the self, sprawled across strips of printed, painted, and photographed mylar. A recombinant identity emerges within their weavings, housing infinitude between the weft and warp of the translucent paper. Much like the inevitable hybridization of a self, Alex and Miao’s weaving between lineages, paper, and skin becomes obstructed.

B and Jessica engage the cyborg technologically, asking how emotions, spirituality, and love are translated algorithmically into an individual’s digital footprint and identity. B’s series Click here to find out more… combines digital imagery with words appropriated from spam emails and pop-up ads to explore the divinity of online language. They suggest the inseparability of social media algorithms from the self, and question how these technologies might constitute hybrid experiences of selfhood. Similarly, Jessica’s work questions what happens when machines gain a sense of spirit and divination. Her text “Tracing the Path” imagines what digital divination might look like in a hyper-capitalist, hyper-surveilled future.

Much like the cyborg, our investigations are manifold, hybrid, and inconclusive. Where do we go from here? How do we locate our boundaries and permeate them? What is it like to move at the pace of water? What is heaven to the machine? How do we potentiate each other?

We hope this first iteration of Silverfish is the beginning of a long and nourishing way of working that carries with it the excitement of our collaboration. We are deeply inspired by the energy imbued into this publication, and humbly hope that the work is as meaningful to readers as it has been to us. In our togetherness, we became a fractal of the Silverfish collective; in reading this, you are a fractal too. We are all limbs now in this body of the bug!

With warmth,

Dallas Fellini and Greta Hamilton
Editors, 2020

Jessica Kasiama and B Wijshijer

Works

Biographies

Jessica Kasiama is a Congolese writer, currently based in Tkaranto. Her work focuses on the primacy of love, futurity and spiritual experience. You can email her at felicitejessi@gmail.com.

B Wijshijer is an artist based in Tkaronto (Toronto), working within digital media, video, and performance. Informed by acceleration aesthetics, their work plays with excess and artifice to interrogate the ways in which late capitalism affects our digital lives. contact@bwijshijer.com at bwijshijer.com.

Alex Lepianka and Miao Liu

Works

Biographies

Alex Lepianka (he/they) practices writing and book-making in Tkaronto. Alex keeps a diary at @__standardform.

Miao Liu is an interdisciplinary artist based in Tkaronto, Canada. Their practice explores material as a conduit for metaphor, narrative, and mythmaking in the creation of personal and collective meaning. Miao can be found experimenting with fiber, metal, mathematics, and joy at OCAD university.


Masthead

Editors:

Dallas Fellini, Greta Hamilton

Biographies

Dallas Fellini is a curator, writer, and artist living and working in Tkaronto. You can keep up with their work at dallasfellini.com.

Greta Hamilton is a writer and artist living as a guest between Tkaronto and Ligwilda’xw territory. Their practice engages queer and feminist theories, magical realism, food, friendship and bathing. Their writing has appeared in C Magazine, Macleans Magazine, Grain Magazine, and in various exhibition statements.

Advisory Committee:

Benjamin de Boer, Sameen Mahboubi

Biographies

Benjamin de Boer seeks attunement. Writing has accompanied exhibitions in an abandoned house, a field, and a garage. Put objects in kitchens, on porches, and dorm rooms. Performed nervously in a backyard near the shed, at parties, in the chat bar, fireside. Published lint filaments in journals forgotten upon awakening.

Sameen Mahboubi is trying their best to survive in Tkaronto.

Designer:

Rowan Lynch

Biography

Rowan Lynch lives in tkaronto, sometimes makes art, sometimes does design work. You can see more at hearthgarage.com, and rowanhlynch.com.