In conceiving the Panopticon, did philosopher Jeremy Bentham construct a small passageway where prisoners could seek privacy and self-comfort away from the all-surveilling institutional gaze? Shu Lea Cheang has been searching for this off-the-path getaway, to slip, to divert, to resist, to reclaim a genre to call one’s own. Since 2009, Cheang has been developing Viral Love Biohack as her current cycle of work, which mixes science fiction visions with gender studies and queer culture. In the second VLC Correction* seminar, Cheang discusses UKI, a sci-fi, viral, alt-reality cinema in the making. In this [science] fiction scenario involving bioinformatics (the collection and interpretation of biological data) and an accidental bioengineering glitch, “UKI” emerges as a virus that departs from a gender binary and deviates into transgenic discourse. Living with the virus, Cheang argues, we are trans-mutating our viral bodies into a brave new Eco-System. Virus Becoming, as Cheang’s lecture is titled, is a newly discovered passageway to self-granted emancipation.
About the artist:
Shu Lea Cheang is an artist and filmmaker whose work aims to re-envision genders, genres, and operating structures. Her genre bending gender hacking practices challenge the existing operating mechanisms and the boundaries imposed on society, geography, politics, and economic structures. As a net art pioneer, her BRANDON (1998–99) was the first web art commissioned and collected by New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Her feature length films, FRESH KILL (1994), I.K.U. (2000) and FLUIDø (2017), respectively termed ecocybernoia, sci-fi cyberpunk, and sci-fi cypherpunk, seek to define a genre of new queer sci-fi cinema. From homesteading cyberspace in the 90s to her current retreat to post-netcrash BioNet zone, Cheang takes on viral love, bio-hack in her current cycle of works. Cheang is currently at work on UKI, a sci-fi viral, alt-reality cinema.
More on Cheang’s work is available here.
Correction* Seminar Series
A series of twelve seminars, Correction* is structured as an open curriculum and presented from September 2022 through May 2024. Led by Vera List Center faculty and staff, each monthly seminar in this two-year series explores the perils and potentials of the political, social, and metaphorical implications of “correction.” Bridging theory and practice, Correction* unfolds through three distinct research clusters every semester set to guide our joint investigation into Restitution, the Body, and Carcerality. It is presented as part of the Barbara Jordan Lectures: The State of Democracy series.