“Ev-Ent-Anglement: Reflexively Extending Engagement By Way of Technology” (co-authored with Alex Juhasz) in Bodies of Information: Feminist Debates in Digital Humanities, Eds. Liz Losh and Jacqueline Wernimont, (in press, 2017).

Laila : As introduction, I am a person in real life. I have had many radical and different experiences that I slip in and out of quite naturally. Hyperconscious of this fluidity, ten year ago I created a moniker for my cyborg self as a conceptual art project. VJ Um Amel is an Arabic-speaking cyborg I perform online, on screens and stages, in art galleries and print across digital media. She is also the creator of the R-Shief media system, and she is my own art practice.

Among the interventions I make while performing VJ (video jockey) Um Amel (Arabic for “Mother of Hope”) are these two: First, I resist normative identity formation. I would rather say, “ I live in California,” than “I am Californian” thereby defining agency through one’s actions (or negation) rather than through signifier or label. The second intervention is the digital performance of an Arabic-speaking cyborg, a character defined by the actions it is programmed to take rather than the shade of its chrome. Cyborgs are intelligent machines who use digital logic in their robotics. And so in this document, I will speak in both voices sometimes performing cyborg (VJ), other times I will perform myself (Laila).

Rebooting cyborg….

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