Category Archives: Devices and technology

A Lifetime of Drugs

DRAFT book chapter

62248A16-954F-485F-B33D-334C690B2E79.jpegDrawing on my experience of living with HIV for over two decades, this essay discusses the forms of anxiety and concern that emerged in 1996 in the context of the introduction of HIV combination antiretroviral therapy around the use of so-called ‘drug cocktails’. It shows how these concerns reflect broader anxieties about increasing sexual activity between men at this time. This event happens to kickstart a corresponding problematisation of gay men’s use of recreational drugs– another sort of ‘drug cocktail’ – on the same basis. I see the present moral panic over chemsex as the latest instalment of this discourse. The piece demonstrates the analogous character of antiretroviral therapy and recreational substance use in gay men’s practice, arguing that pleasure, self-medication, and experimentation with the conditions of life are concerns that cut across outdated distinctions between pharmaceutical drugs and illicit drugs. Meanwhile, the stigmatised and criminalised status of HIV-positive sex, gay sexuality and illicit drug use produces paranoid subjects and effectively endangers the health and wellbeing of those affected. It must be countered. Paying attention to the collective experiments of drug users is likely to be much more generative.

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I wrote this piece for a forthcoming collection called Long Term, edited by Scott Herring and Lee Wallace, who invited me to write something about living with HIV.

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Instagrabs: moments in time, practical aesthetics & digital vernacular creativity

 ~ aka, fucking around on my smartphone ~

working girl

Working Girl – May 2018

 I’ve been doing this thing where I screen-cap a bunch of consecutive shots from my Instagram account that happen to line up, in my view, to make some aesthetic sense of a moment or phase in my life that gives me pleasure or generates affective resonance for me: let’s call them Instagrabs.
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Don’t Cry Mama – July 2018

An Instagrab relies on the mediating capacities of a particular technology, the smartphone camera and its screen cap function, as well as the commercial software platforms of Instagram and Facebook, to pull together a series of takes on the world that I take to hang together to provide some handle on a particular moment in experienced time.
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Kim Jong um… March 2018

It is a tableau of images that in practical and partial terms captures some perspective on my world in a retrospective and makeshift attempt to convey the feeling of particular trajectories or moments of movement through that world that have formed me as a subject (and will continue to do so through this intervention, to the extent that it formats and brings them into the present)
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Viking it – September 2016

As an assembled collage of a series of digital depictions of my experience of the world I move through, the Instagrab assembles a second-order perspective on what that phase in my experience of the world felt like, as well as the sort of meanings and feelings it might generate and confer, both retrospectively and prospectively – into the future.

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Tendrils – Autumn 2017

At once intimate, publicly accessible and imbued with personal meaning and affect, Instagrabs attempt to make some aesthetic sense of where I’ve been and the feelings that sequence of moves through the world involved in a multiply-mediated and specifically assembled practice of re-collection.

 

Click through for my Instagrab Album–  a work in progress

 

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FanPhatic – February 2018

 

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Filed under Affect, Devices and technology, Digital culture, Random thoughts, Theory, Uncategorized, Vernacular Digital Creativity

Gingko Leaves in Winter

 

 

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Filed under Affect, Antiretrovirals, Devices and technology, Engagement with medicine, Random thoughts, Self-medication, Sexual Sociability, Theory

Above & Beyond a Joke: Who are the  real criminals here?

Above & Beyond;
Over & Above;
Beyond a Joke.

& more to the point: how long has this been going on???

Back in 2007, I tried to work out why the police state was insisting so dogmatically on policing techniques that, even back then, had already been shown to exacerbate rather than reduce the harms associated with the consumption of psychoactive drugs.

I could only conclude that the police and their state operatives were completely uninterested in regulating a market that their actions actually maintain and reproduce as dodgy and dangerous, realistically, at all. That would defeat the point.

Here’s what I argued, in Pleasure Consuming Medicine (2009), Chapter 1

 

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That was A DECADE AGO.

Nothing has changed: things have only gotten worse.

The drug dog now serves as a shitty mick pretext to produce anyone who fails to tow the state line on ‘drugs’ as deviates… and punish young people for socialising en masse at all.

Fuck them; fuck the politicians who allow this to take place; fuck those sections of the public that support such blatant abuses of rational authority; and fuck the dumb-assed officers that swallow the bullshit ideology they get served up from their ‘superiors’ whole.

Above & Beyond & Pretty Much completely Over it All….

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Booklaunch!

I’m honoured that my book The Gay Science: Intimate experiments with the problem of HIV will be launched ~ alongside Susan Kippax and Niamh Stephenson’s Socialising the Biomedical Turn in HIV Prevention at

Pride of Place: Remembering the Past, Shaping our Futures;

a conference commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Mardi Gras, on the evening of Monday 25 June 2018.

The Pride of Place conference will explore themes of intergenerational lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer experience, and celebrate the evolving purpose, identity and influence of Mardi Gras within the LGBTIQ community. The relationship between LGBTIQ politics and Indigenous Australians, as well as multi-ethnic communities, will be a focus of conference discussion.  The conference is co-sponsored by the Ally Network, the 78ers, Sydney Pride History, and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney.

The books – both of which emerge from the vibrant social movement around HIV in Australia – will be launched by Peter Aggleton and Annamarie Jagose at an event chaired by Elspeth Probyn at 5.30pm on Monday 25 June, in the Refectory of the Abercrombie Building, University of Sydney (level 5).

Just prior to the launch, the conference is featuring a panel discussion, Mardi Gras and Communal Responses to HIV in Australia, from 4.15pm, featuring Dennis Altman (La Trobe University) Heath Paynter (AFAO), Nicolas Parkhill (ACON) and Niamh Stephenson, UNSW:

Mardi Gras and Communal Responses to HIV in Australia 

The Mardi Gras festival, protest and party have been particularly – and perversely – generative of communal responses to HIV in Australia.  At the beginning of the AIDS crisis there were calls to ban the parade, with one of the government’s principal advisors on AIDS describing the party as a ‘Bacchanalian orgy’. But it soon became evident that the parade and party could serve as hallmark events in which the possibility of a communal, collective response to the crisis could be celebrated and embodied. Some of the most brilliant HIV/AIDS education has emerged from Mardi Gras culture, garnering international recognition for Australia’s bold, irreverent partnership response to the epidemic.  This panel of distinguished speakers from the community sector and academia will explore why the culture of  Mardi Gras has generated such dynamic, collective responses to HIV in Australia.

If you would like to attend that session, or any other parts of the conference, you are required to register for the event (the standard price is $50 for the full two days, with some concessions as per the conference website).

“So many pills, so little time sweetie!”

 

 

 

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Filed under Affect, Antiretrovirals, Books, Devices and technology, Digital culture, Drug dogs, Engagement with medicine, Erogenous zones, Eroticism and fantasy, HIV behavioural surveillance, Masculinities, Medicine and science, Online meeting sites, Parties, PNP culture, Police, Policy and programs, Random thoughts, Self-medication, Sexual practice, Sexual Sociability, The statistical imagination, Theory

Chemical Practices: Enhancement & Experimentation

Are you gay/bi/queer/lesbian/trans/non-binary/HIV-positive?

Do you live in NSW or Victoria, Australia?

Do you use any medications, drugs, or alcohol to transform any aspect of your sexual experience, everyday life, or gendered feelings?

Artwork courtesy The Design Embassy

If so, please consider participating in this important study about experiences of drug, medication and other substance use among LGBTQ we are conducting:

Chemical Practices: Enhancement & Experimentation

(click on the above for more information about the study)

Interviews are completely confidential and anonymous, last about an hour, can be conducted in a location convenient to you, and participants will be modestly reimbursed for their time.

You can register you interest here

Thank you!

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Towards a pragmatics of digital encounters & sexual networking: experimental directions

This is where I’m at right now:

I wrote a paper for the Selfies & Subjectivities Symposium organised by Kath Albury from Swinburne and Anne Harris from RMIT in Melbourne this month, which I later developed into this short contribution to a special issue of Sexualities celebrating 30 years of the journal

Here is an abstract I put together for it:

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In the era of smartphones and hookup apps, pornography can no longer be confined to the straightforward production of sexual arousal through representational practices(though this objective certainly remains significant). Rather, digital pictures have accrued additional functions in the interpersonal exchanges and self-projecting activities that characterise interaction and communicative relations on these media. So often, the ‘selfie’ of self-pornography operates as part of the grammar of sexual arrangements, whether these arrangements involve online or offline interactivity, or both. This paper seeks to contribute to pragmatist conceptions of sexual media, selfie studies and digital pornography by situating the communication that takes place on  these media, not as mere representations of ‘actual’ sexual practices or the ‘authentic’ sexual self, but rather forms of practical action that propel some version of the self into one or more of the variously formatted and networked arenas of digital culture. They can be situated in this respect as technical constituents of erotic digital assemblages that seek to solicit, collect, process, store, publicise and convey certain kinds of information according to the affordances perceived in their interactive modes, enabling communicants to recalibrate their activities and respond on the basis of specific feelings, attachments and calculations. Once the grammar of digital sex is grasped in pragmatic terms as a performative element in specifically assembled, multi-dimensional platforms, then all sorts of material objects and technical processes can be understood to enter into the labour of sexual self-formation (see Race, 2018). What once might have been read as a two-dimensional form of visual representation elevated to the status of detached self-portraiture can now be grasped as a vehicle for self-articulation, a form of self-experimentation that seeks to participate in the creation of new attachments, and a potential source of practical (self)-transformation.

 

About a week later I read Meaghan Morris’s fabulous piece Sustaining the Festive Principle: Between Realism and Fantasy which resonated in unexpected ways with work I’ve done on gay partying, it’s significance for queer communal wellbeing, the health of countercultural movements, and institution-building. My primary concern in this work (the last chapter of my new book  The Gay Science) is how to adapt and extend the generative energy  of cultural festivity – those playful encounters that make us something else – in-to the present transitional context (which involves, in my hometown at least, invasive policing, nightlife lockouts through licensing restriction, hyper-gentrification and incessant redevelopment, social exclusion from urban spaces, homelessness, insurgent homo-moralism, the Heroization of ‘Clean Living’, etc….

Then on Friday night I read Noortje Marres’ excellent chapter on ‘experiments in living’ in her 2012 book Material Participation which contains a concise and really informative analysis of the different ways that experimental practices and demonstrative activities have been conceived and approached by people who study them as a sociomaterial, world-making activityies  Marres is mainly talking about public experiments, but I’m interested in the sorts of self-experiments that normative morality deems illicit: for example, how publics and infrastructures of disclosure and support get assembled in contexts of prohibition and disciplinary enforcement, in which any attempt to create a public context for one’s self-experiments is quickly quashed, isolated, quarantined, eradicated, denigrated, privatised or shamed.

The concept of intimate experimentation is something we’ve been grappling with in the ARC Discovery Project I’m conducting with my colleagues Dean Murphy, Kiran Pienaar and Toby LeaChemical Practices: Enhancement & Experimentation.  In this work and thinking, I’m especially interested in how the diversely theorised concept of experimentation might be put to work to activate new approaches to chem-consumption and bring out new dimensions of the activities and self-transformations associated with the consumption of  drugs and medications among queer and gender-diverse communities .

This weekend I’ve mainly just been fucking around on Instagram, a medium which I’ve found makes me enjoy and look for beauty and creativity  all around in all sorts of everyday situations and odd places – some kind of f #instaaesthetics of experience

My ongoing enjoyment of this app and how it leads me to engage with the world around me makes me think about how its affordances can be used creatively to bring out startling or hitherto unrecognisable qualities in ordinary things/spaces/people/ everyday scenes through the specific possibilities the app/phone/flaneur assemblage affords: filtering, the possibilities of adopting all sorts of techniques and angles  to frame and mediate and make strange or new those things that capture your attention or suddenly strike you as an opportunity for aestheticism ….

Meanwhile other affordances like hashtags can be used to create associations, attachments, and explore various other self-images, accounts and pages:  activities which often entail encounters with all sorts of people, depictions of their lives selves-in-differing-situ hat you never expected developing any interest in or becoming captivated by ….

I’ve been thinking all these thoughts …rather manically and rhitzomatically… on the run, so naturally I’ve had to work with the platform closest at hand …(Instagram of course).  Basically I’ve been taking a whole bunch of phatic selfies….  < lol>

I’ve accompanied this visual work with streams of lateral thought-association which I’ve articulated as best I can using hashtags that mean particular things for me  (usually connected to my idle thoughts and ongoing work) .. which every so often also generate unexpected associations, new attachments, novel modes of appreciation and interest and engagement, and encounters across all sorts of social, material and mediated differences that can result in surprisingly intimate connections or forms of relation

‘in his 2005 intro to ANT, Reassembling the Social, Latour promotes a method he calls associology, that entails tracing the associations and networks that serve to consolidate particular realities which end up producing certain experts and authorities, conferring as well as shaping specific forms of agency: agencements.

But when I read some of the early work from the  Actor-Network Theory crew, I’m often left with the sense of an heroically masterful (or tragically unsuccessful) Manager of Associations, the clever scientist who is smart enough to put in place relations strategic assurance, skilled in picking the associations that best consolidate the version of reality they have encountered through their specific experiments.

A much queerer approach would be less invested in the strategic enterprise making and tracing associations to formulate predefined structures according to fixed objectives, and much more curious about the modes of pleasure entailed in noticing and tracing the chance events that end up affecting or transforming us  (persons and things) when those things  make themselves available to the encounter. As I discuss a fair bit in the  The Gay Science,  I have in mind the happy, unexpected chance encounters that have the power to take us off into multiple new directions (however subtle, trivial, substantial or world-moving they may at first seem or end up becoming): that produce transformations, the possibilities of which we may want to experiment with

Which leaves me thinking, if we want to experience more eventful, enjoyable, energising worlds and realities, maybe we need to embrace and affirm these moments of random connection, expand our appreciation of the many differences available to us in terms of how we  encounter difference and find things to share with whatever is unfamiliar or strange to us; and most of all how different manners of encountering others generate different realities of material consequence.

What we need, in other words – against or alongside Latour’s associology – is another approach which I’m thinking of right now under the working title: encounterology ….. Encounterology is the enjoyable activity of attending to whatever eventuates from unexpected  encounters and queer or improbable relations…

Let’s extend our festive activities by bringing them into new situations to multiply our capacities of feeling, to create situations and events that are enjoyable enough to sustain entire movements and counter-institutions.  

Keep Partying, Keep Playing!   

 

Kane Race, April, 2018

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Filed under Affect, Books, Devices and technology, Digital culture, Erogenous zones, Eroticism and fantasy, Online meeting sites, Parties, PNP culture, Random thoughts, Uncategorized, Vernacular Digital Creativity