Interview and Collaborative Making
Kayla and I spent our activity and studio time conducting the first three interviews of our MaKerZine project! I wasn’t able to participate in the fashion design activities (I’m super impressed by what was made in such short time!), but I instead had the privilege of listening to my peers’ stories and capturing their lovely and complex reflections on making, hobbies, gender, projects, risks, and life.
While listening to the stories in the AADL Secret Lab, I found myself especially aware of the material, physical reality of sharing and capturing stories - the colors and the reverberations in the room, the physicality of sharing work-in-progress plastic and wool. Interviews are an opportunity to pluck stories and ideas and perspectives out of a personal, internal space and make them into a performed, recordable, digital, tangible artifact. I hadn’t really thought of an interview in these terms before, and it was lovely to contextualize the moment within the many forms of making we undertake in our class.
On The Reading
Throughout Innocent Experiments, Onion shows men passing along science (through sci-fi, chemistry kits, model rockets…) to teach boys to circumvent authority and social limitations, which are wound up in the perceived women gatekeepers of the mother, the teacher, and the librarian (!) In the later chapters, Onion further links this type of education to libertarian values of science as limitless doing. In this process, I believe the book does a phenomenal job exposing the many interlinked values we content with today across our society, whether it’s the disruption-focused entrepreneurial tech culture which remains hostile to women or the wave of Trumpism in our country that values masculine-coded doing (and unapologetic destruction of institutions) over inclusion and empathy.
I sincerely hope that making communities can transcend this project of encouraging disruptive/rogue masculinity and instead find ways to center the contributions and experiences of women. But I wonder, do women face the same glass ceiling of self-actualization that Proddy faced in Prodkayne of Mars when they are not fully supported in STEM studies in their postsecondary studies or drop out of hostile environments in the workforce? If the issue is a cultural discourse of participatory science that is gendered from the beginning, how do we create and foster an entirely different feminist construction of participatory science?
When I lived in Seattle, I briefly participated in a feminist and women-centric making space that took a lovely approach to this. A February 2015 article in Yes Magazine summarizes some of the challenges that feminist maker spaces attempt to tackle, which sound quite familiar at this point:
Taking things apart and putting them back together, after all, is a core activity of the maker movement, which commentators have hailed as everything from the face of America’s new industrial revolution to a force unleashing a new era of small businesses.
That’s great, but where do we start? How are people like me, who’ve never been particularly techie, supposed to join in? And what if the “hackerspaces”—the central institutions of the maker movement, where makers gather to build, collaborate, and learn—tend to be dominated by white guys whose first reaction to someone new is, “Here, I’ll do it for you”?
After spending a good amount of time considering the weaknesses in the Make community (as advanced by Make Inc), it’s helpful to encounter some examples of communities that seek their founding principles not in a libertarian idea of freedom, but a feminist concept of intersectional inclusion, equity, and justice. I’m definitely curious to learn more about what would make spaces like Seattle Attic grow and the role of feminism within making more broadly.