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Review of MoMA’s Supposium co-authored with Lynne Beckenstein

Better late than never, I hope. Lynne Beckenstein and I had too much fun co-authoring this event review not to share it. It was one of the most generative collaborative experiences I’ve ever had, one that continues to inspire my belief that working together can produce more than what we can single-handedly.


Review of MoMA’s “Supposium” March 2014

This March, the Museum of Modern Art hosted its first ever “Supposium,” an afternoon of philosophical revelry that challenged participants to think beyond ordinary binaries–silence and sound, center and periphery–that might blind us to the extraordinary. This year’s event, “Beyond Default Geographies of Attention: Six Thought Experiments Beginning with ‘Suppose,’” featured six eclectic luminaries: Anne Carson, Sandi Hilal, Peter Krapp, Fred Moten, Adam Pendleton, and Joan Retallack. The Supposium’s mysterious flyer announced that “In the midst of our planetary emergency of too many emergencies, we will enter a space-time bracket of serious play / playful gravitas initiated by a series of thought experiments beginning with ‘Suppose…..’” The conditions of this conditional are “emergency,” invoking both the exigency of global precarity and the emergent possibilities for imagining alternatives.

Joan Retallack began by asking the audience to approach these performances in a spirit of playfulness, as though the panelists’ “strategies for eluding default geometries of attention” were part of a game – a game in which we were all active participants. The premise was that, in this mode of being “playful mind-bodies with the capacity to disturb,” we might unlock “the puzzle of the Supposium.” In other words, we might transcend certain fixed modes of thinking about large-scale global crises, while considering what constructs allow us to do that work. Rather than operating in a traditional critical mode, the event’s thought experiments invited us to consider the generative role of performance in re-issuing the clarion call for black English in the wake of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis and humming along with Miles Davis as (re)visionary soundscapes of democracy and justice.

Sandi Hilal was the first to take up Retallack’s challenge to destabilize our old models for determining value. She theorized the architecture of permanence and belonging through the conditions of exile in West Bank refugee camp. Rather than privilege the political discourses of nation-states, Hilal reviewed the history of the “roofless camp” from 1948 to the present, in which Palestinian refugees refused to build structures that might imply permanent resettlement. In doing so, she raised critical question about rootedness and the right to return: How might these roofless homes help us to rethink collective spaces? How can they inform our attempts to put the refugee at the center at the world?

Peter Krapp situated this work of supposing within a long history of simulation, reviewing  how the category of the thought experiment has evolved against a backdrop of political crises and technological innovations. To test the validity of our assumptions, we have to “close down the critical distance,” and engage in roleplay without a rigid binary between real and unreal. For example, can we make the imaginative leap required to envision data-mining on a planetary scale? How might information about global warming help us “optimize global behavior,” and sync up to cool down? To fail may be expensive, though the cost of inaction is worth the risk.

Adam Pendleton began with a memory of a freestyle rap performance, telling the story of how Common, DJ Hightech, Dela Soul, Talib Kwali, and the DJ improvised collaboratively, shifting pace and rhythm through “multiple levels of call and response” with transformative potential. He both recounted the experience and re-staged it for us, shifting between his own voice and that of the musicians – “Find heaven in this music and God,” he called out, in a refrain – as a performance of what it means to reclaim black English. This black English has the potential to interrogate a culture steeped in racialized violence, a culture that permits the murders of young black men like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. In the idiom of 21st-century U.S. political imaginaries, it is a language “that occupies, that stands ground.”

Fred Moten used music to tell its own story, outside of language: without comment, he played a recording of Miles Davis for us. As the sound waned, he began to expound upon the recursive arrangement, how the jaunty sax returns to express a wistful yearning, climbing the scale with nostalgia for what has come before. Moten sang his own lyrics for Davis’s melody: “Supposing I should fall in love with you,” a conditional that he riffed on throughout his meditation on the social situation of philosophy. Philosophy inhabits a state of fugitivity, requiring us to “find the slave in the text,” to “study how to listen” in order to speak out of turn. As in jazz, we need to understand the theme and the variation of the theme as coterminous; we get to the variation through revolt, through falling in love, through accompaniment that takes us to “the knowledge that precedes knowledge.” Beyond default geographies of subject-positioning, suppositioning.

Anne Carson read her poem, “Seated Figure with Red Angle (1988) by Betty Goodwin,” from her 2001 collection Men in the Off Hours. Before her reading, she showed us an image of Goodwin’s drawing, then shared the impetus of the poem: confronted with a work of art that makes the artist want to fall silent, how does one begin to suppose? For Carson, even the grammar of the conditional was not enough to apprehend the depths of Goodwin’s artwork, a sketch of a faceless figure that hovers on the surface of the page. Carson’s starting point was protasis, but she left out the “then” of each“if/then” clause. In her list of 73 “If…” phrases, the intention, Carson said, was to leave out the fact, and leave in the hesitation: “If reach in, if you burrow, if you risk wiping in…” Each line of the poem ends in an open-ended pause, a silence that disturbed in its refusal to finish the thought.

Following these multimodal presentations, ranging from the academic to the melodic to the ekphrastic, the audience’s task was to then break into groups and respond to the presenters’ injunction: “We must choose to suppose.” This mode of engagement modeled a form of playful amateurism, encouraging participants to riff on the terms of the presenters’ interdisciplinary fields. In our own group, we formulated and re-formulated questions about power, representation, and voice, attempting to think through the conditions of exile that Hilal represented. As participants, we found ourselves uncertain about how to approach the conditions of fugitivity, refugee, and exile in the playful ethos of the Supposium –  that is to say, how playful we could afford to be, without occluding the gravity of these experiences? When we rejoined the rest of the audience, it turned out that most of the participants had risen to this challenge by moving back and forth between the literal and figurative, unsettling the boundary between them. They performed these responses through incantatory recitations, spoken word, and song. One group chanted pronouns and asked, “What are the pronouns conjuring?” One sang, “Language is the flight of refugees,” standing in a chorus line; another broke apart to read different pieces simultaneously, facing different sections of the room.

Despite these exhilarating variations in form and content, there was a thread of continuity: the audience had latched onto the conditional and, following the example of the six presenters, now linked it to the collaborative. “Suppose there were no passengers on spaceship earth,” one group suggested. “We are all crew.” The Supposium implicated participants in a low-stakes game, providing a playful space to experiment and fail–to figure out what works and doesn’t in the poetics of dislocation. Not knowing the rules, or even what was possible, we played together for three hours in the modality described by Lauren Berlant in her series of blog posts on “The Game”: “The game is a form of life coming into being, extension, and activity, the blinking open at the start of the day and the beyond to anything that was explained.” Berlant offers the terms for the game in a series of conditional clauses; like Carson, she strips away the abodases from a series of conditional statements, leaving the protases that tantalize us with their incompleteness: “if you let a piece go without completion… if we could come forth as “I” with the other objects, if we would take in that all things don’t happen for a reason..” In the silence of these unfinished “if…” clauses, we have the space to imagine different possibilities, ways of thinking for which we don’t have language yet.

an uncommon education (critical visualities)

uncommon education

Since April, when this photograph appeared in The New York Times accompanying an article entitled “Republicans See Political Wedge in Common Core,” I’ve been haunted by the disjuncture between the emphatic refusal evident on the signage and the sidelong glances of the protesters, their impenetrable expressions that allude to the uncapturable and unknowable feelings beneath, beyond, and behind the scene.

From one angle, this photograph captures a flashpoint, in which what is held among us in “common” has become conflated with educational reform vis-à-vis more rigorous standardized testing. It indexes a moment in which these collective frustrations have materialized as a bizarre, almost uncanny articulation of the very individualism that legitimizes standardized testing. “Common” is that thing way, way over there—my child is NOT common. I worry that in an age of educational enclosure, this rhetorical rejection of a common future might further foreclose alternative ways of being in common.

And yet, the photograph remains wrought with tension, performing more than just a gesture of refusal. It is simultaneously thick with a shared detachment from the scene of protest, registered in the averted glances across these faces.

I want to briefly consider how a racial history of “the commons,” might frame the dynamics of refusal and distraction at work in this image. In Black Reconstruction, W.E.B. Du Bois illustrates how, in the South, the dream of “public education for all at [the] public expense” was an African-American one (638). He mobilizes nation-feeling by calling on his readers, “men and nations,” to live up to “the greater ideals of the American Republic” and support the construction of common schools (The Souls of Black Folk 14).

Du Bois also quotes one of his most vocal opponents at length to demonstrate the public fear that African American education might threaten white supremacy, fear that later materialized as death threats and the burning of these new common schools: “We, the millionaires — we, who are paid out of your pockets, will take your money and will send our children to select high schools, to foreign lands, where no Negroes are, but you, you who are too poor to pay, shall send your ragged, hungry urchins to the common schools on such terms as we dictate, or keep them away to stray among the treacherous quick-sands and shoals of life…” (Black Reconstruction 663).

In addition to striking chords of inequality that reverberate today, what can we hear in this Southern Congressman’s description of black children—perhaps the child that the green sign alludes to—as “ragged, hungry urchins,” that should be banished to “the common schools”? What shifts if we consider how the contemporary demand for an uncommon education has historically been intertwined with the threat of a common education, articulated in rhetoric that denies humanity to those with black skin, to those who cannot pay?

I have no answers to these questions, but a few inclinations.

  1. That this historical flashpoint should tune us in to the unevenness of history. Although we are bound by contemporary conditions of the 99% and the 1%, precarity remains unequally distributed along embodied axes. And yet, to refuse the commons risks allowing ourselves to be divided, rather than united, by this uneven vulnerability. As a teacher once suggested to me, “without a certain feeling for the common, there can’t be education at all.” Or as Fred Moten and Stefano Harney argue, social change can only emerge from the felt sense that “this shit is killing you too” (10).
  2. That this photograph captures the experience of being unwillingly implicated in an American Dream. The common core, a project of national incorporation through standardization, has catalyzed a moment of national dissensus, that feeling of being out of sync with a world. Indeed, their expressions index the unraveling of this national fantasy, what it feels like to be strung along and embedded within, while recognizing the sheer inadequacy of, our nation’s preferred style of being-in-common.
  3. I want to suggest that by showing up in Jackson, Mississippi on the same cold day in January, these people have come together to reject one form of common-ness, and in doing so, they perform an alternative commons—one that, almost paradoxically, brings people together in their very insistence on uncommonness.


Works Cited

Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt. Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880.

New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935.

—. The Souls of Black Folk. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.


Harney, Stefano and Fred Moten. The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black

Study. New York: Minor Compositions, 2013.

Initial Reflections on Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety”


*This blog is a work in progress that I intend to update*

IMG_0006 IMG_0005

It was only after visiting Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety,” on the subway ride home, that we realized how much more painful the sugar sculptures looked in digital photographs.

At the exhibit, I had to keep reminding myself that this is probably “supposed to” look like blood; these melting sugar sculptures are probably “supposed to” look like fire, and evoke scenes of violence. Looking back, though, I want to linger with my underlying assumption that good art needs to make us uncomfortable. I realize that before ever walking into the old sugar factory, I had already “read” the exhibit: it was going to reveal the geologically slow processes of history, layering the violence of slavery and sugar plantations into the present. Part of my experience was framed by this understanding, as I looked for “evidence” that would support it (the decline and dilapidation of the small brown children, the unblemished enormity of the white sphinx–the word “monolithic” kept coming to mind).

And this violent history was present, but so was a lot else. When you’re there–in the moment–the sweet scent is intoxicating and the lighting (in the late afternoon) is enchanting. It felt like being in an ambrosial cathedral. Like “A Subtlety,” cathedrals also invite reflections on violent histories, though they’re often visited for their beauty, rather than religious value. Both times I went, I had to consume something sweet afterwards. I couldn’t think about anything else until I sipped a mojito or ate gooey cake at Smorgasbord (going to Smorgasbord after “A Subtlety” deserves its own post). Both times I viscerally felt my body’s craving for sugar like an addict (and those of you who know me can attest to the reality of my sugar addiction). As an “homage,” it commemorates the lives of brown children that were the conditions of possibility for this craving. In trying to think through what the exhibit does rather than represents, it made me move towards sugar at an alarming rate.

In contrast to what I thought the exhibit ought to make me think about, the ambers emerging from these melting sugar children were so visually stunning that I couldn’t help remarking on their beauty, while simultaneously having ugly feelings about doing so. This fallen subtlety in particular contained shades of amber that I didn’t know could exist.


I think it is in the spirit of the exhibition to pay attention to its minor details, which are only minor–or subtle–from a privileged perspective, and to linger with the elements that are supposed to be background and peripheral, but are oftentimes the unseen infrastructures that silently perform. The first thing that struck me was the gorgeous, sweeping font used for the exhibit’s title, offset by the sans serif capital letters of the surrounding description. From the “y” tickling the “u” to the cleavage atop the “s,” the font is sensual and indulgent, like sugar once was and still both is (and is not).


Throughout the exhibit, you are invited to photograph it and tweet about it through the hashtag #karawalkerdomino. The result is that people milling throughout the warehouse alternate between viewing it from behind and beyond a lens–though let’s not forget the glasses and contact lenses that mediate most viewing experiences. Many of the photographs contain these spectators and their lenses, interpolating them into the exhibit itself. Especially surrounding the sphinx, viewers standing alongside her are placed at the level of the subtleties, inviting comparisons to their gorgeous, decaying bodies. For me, the exhibit raised more questions than it answered about the type of encounter–with art, with history–solicited through its invitation for digital participation. What, for instance, is at stake in sharing photographs of the exhibit? How do these invitations to share and participate relate to the complex histories crystallized in the sugar sculptures?

It’s commonplace to remark on how a photograph doesn’t do “justice” to the real thing. But in this case, and perhaps in all cases, the photographs reveal additional dimensions of the exhibit. Skirting discourses of justice and attendant assumptions of fairness, the photographs honor the exhibit by further complicating and proliferating its nuances/subtleties. In the photographs, the statues look like tar, like the pictures of blackened lungs used to scare children away from smoking. Each subtlety is surrounded by the slick of an oil spill.


The photographs foreground violence against bodies in a way that being there does not. Unlike being in the space, where I had to keep reminding myself that these incredible statues commemorate violent histories, there is no honeyed aura surrounding the photographs. These photographs are simulacra: reproductions for which there is no original. Morphing from one moment to the next, “A Subtlety” illustrates the thermodynamics of social change, how violence against African Americans has not disappeared, but transmuted into new forms.


The dissolving ballerina gracefully arches towards the sticky light refracted in her future. Although the syrupy sweetness of the exhibit will disappear when the factory is demolished, these pictures will live on. As will the sap on the treads of our shoes.


Here, I’ve provided only my own photographs, though many others are available through Twitter.

Some things I want to continue thinking about (and would love to hear others’ thoughts on!):



An uncommon education

uncommon educationThe rhetoric of “common” and the fight for an uncommon education.

In “Founding the Public School” (in Black Reconstruction, 1935) Du Bois illustrates how the education of African Americans constituted the origins of public (or “common”) education in the South: “Public education for all at public expense, was, in the South, a Negro idea” (638). More specifically, “common school instruction in the South, in the modern sense of the term, was founded by the freedmen’s Bureau and missionary societies, and that the state public school system was formed mainly by Negro Reconstruction governments” (664).

“One Southern Congressman’s speech represents the strength of this
fear. “Woe be unto the political party which shall declare to the toiling
yeoman, the honest laboring poor of this country, ‘Your children
are no better than a Negro’s.’ If you think so, you shall not practice
on that opinion. We are the rulers; you are the servants! We know
what is best for you and your children. We, the millionaires — we, who
are paid out of your pockets, will take your money and will send our
children to select high schools, to foreign lands, where no Negroes
are, but you, you who are too poor to pay, shall send your ragged,
hungry urchins to the common schools on such terms as we dictate, or
keep them away to stray among the treacherous quick-sands and shoals
of life; to wander on the streets and learn to syllable the alphabet of
vice and crime, or stay at home, and like blind Samson, in mental
darkness, tramp barefoot, the tread-mill of unceasing toil!” – Du Bois, “Founding the Public School.” Black Reconstruction. (1935)

What is community college? Well, you’ve heard all kinds of things. You’ve heard it’s ‘loser college’ for remedial teens, twenty-something drop-outs, middle-aged divorcees, and old people keeping their minds active as they circle the drain of eternity. That’s what you heard, however… I wish you luck!

– Dean Pelton, opening lines of the television show Community



Black Atlantic Constellations

Remarks offered in response to “Images and (Re)figurations of Race and Historical Representation” at The Graduate Center’s Currents of the Black Atlantic conference. Papers referred to:

  • Emily T. Bauman, “Black Atlantic, White Zombie”
  • Elena C. Munoz, “The Significance of the Black Madonna and the Orisha Yemaya in Cuban Plantation Culture”
  • Lauren Bailey,”The Object of ‘[T]rue Luster and Whiteness’: The Racialized Beauty of Oriental Pearls in Early Modern England”

I’d like to frame my brief remarks as an invitation for us all to think more about some of the common themes that emerged from these exciting papers. Perhaps I should have been less surprised by the preoccupation with whiteness in these projects: in Emily’s analysis of whiteface, Elena’s discussion of blanqueamiento, and Lauren’s reading of pearls as a metonym for whiteness, imperial power, and feminine beauty. More specifically even, in both Emily and Lauren’s work, whiteness is discussed as a form of artifice, prosthetic, and masquerade, which importantly denaturalizes the binary of whiteness as norm and blackness as other.

In trying to account for the recurrent theme of whiteness among papers at a Black Atlantic conference, I’m curious as to whether this trope is related to the fact that these papers each engage visual culture. For me, the most striking images discussed in these papers place black and white bodies together in the same frame, revealing the way in which white privilege has historically been both bolstered and complicated by visual representations. Here I’m thinking of the painting of a European woman whose beauty is meant to be accented by the presence of a black child, the Afro-Cuban Virgin of Regla cradling a white Jesus, and the black protagonists fighting off hyper-white zombies. These power dynamics in shared spaces reminded me of Sarah Ahmed’s essay, “A Phenomenology of Whiteness” which suggests that “Whiteness could be described as an ongoing and unfinished history, which orientates bodies in specific directions, affecting how they ‘take up’ space, and what they ‘can do’.”

After reading and listening to these papers, I was struck by the two inversely racialized images of the women with children, offered by Lauren and Elena. In trying to wrap my head around the fact that they were produced merely fourteen years apart, in what feels like two different worlds, I was reminded of Gilroy’s Black Atlantic and the way in which it continues to challenge our spatiotemporal imaginaries. These complex images, which immediately invite us to interrogate locally-specific conditions of race, class, and gender, also tempt us to make transatlantic connections regarding processes of racial representation. For me, the question becomes then, how do we attend to this temptation to read these two images alongside one another, in a way that is responsible to their historical specificities? To then think these projects alongside Emily’s work on (relatively) contemporary American zombie films would require an even more radical exercise of our imagination, which we need not shy away from.

regla painting

Left: Our Lady of Regla (1696) Right: Pierre Mignard, Louise Renee de Kerouaille (1682)

In addition to inviting more discussion regarding the study of visual representations of the Black Atlantic, I’d also be interested in hearing about the panelists’ experiences working with texts drawn from popular culture. Here, I’m specifically thinking about Lauren’s makeup ads and Emily’s Hollywood zombie films. Whereas both of these examples market racial representations to consumer audiences, Elena’s archive of iconography seems to invoke the “popular” in a different sense. What kind of work, then, does a category like the “popular” do in Black Atlantic study?

And finally, I would also add the space of ocean to this list of things we might potentially talk about. Whereas oceans seem crucial both to Lauren’s analysis of pearls as a gendered, racialized, and imperial commodity and to Elena’s description of the enslaved Yoruba being transported to Cuba, it almost seems impossible to imagine Emily’s whiteface zombies at sea, perhaps because zombies seem like such profoundly terrestrial creatures, at least in my experience. And yet Emily’s analysis is grounded in the zombie’s transformations that occurred during its sea-voyages from Haiti to America. Through their emphases on oceanic routes (with a “u”), each of these these papers testifies to the porousness of national boundaries, reminding me of Gilroy’s own very visual image of the nation-state as an overflowing container.

On Beauty


What are the algorithms that calculate beauty in facial recognition software? To what uses are they put? Is beauty independently calculated, or does it correspond to another variable, such as race, age, or gender?


Although this does not speak directly to this week’s readings, I remain curious about the potential of montage to physiologically induce dialectical thinking–what Eisenstein wanted, if I understand correctly–in our current historical moment.

Benjamin: “Just as the entire mode of existence of human collectives changes over long historical periods, so too does their mode of perception. The way in which human perception is organized–the medium in which it occurs–is conditioned not only by nature but by history” (“The Work of Art” 104). Is it possible that we have become desensitized to jarring juxtapositions of images, given the pervasiveness of this as an advertising technique? Might we need something other than montage to experience shock at the strangeness of the everyday? Or are we perhaps beyond an aesthetics of montage/shock altogether? What I find most exciting about software and technology are the opportunities it offers for entirely re-imagining the way in which meaning gets made in the world, the ways in which we use technology to engage in collective world-making. Given this, I wonder whether we might also need to rethink the early 20th century avant-garde investment in montage/shock and look to new technologies for glimpses of other aesthetics that might physiologically induce new ways of seeing, knowing, and being.

In Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting, Sianne Ngai looks at the aesthetic categories that are important for thinking through politics and affect in a postindustrial, postmodern society in which the “increasing interpenetration of economy and culture wreaks two particularly significant changes on the concept of art in general. First, a weakening of art’s capacity to serve as an image of nonalienated labor…second, a destabilization of art’s more specifically modernist, twentieth-century mission of producing perceptual shocks” (21). Ngai’s work looks at the more politically ambiguous aesthetic categories that are crucial for thinking in a society increasingly mediated by aesthetic experience; one in which we are constantly “hailed” through subjective-objective encounters, suggesting that Benjamin and Eisenstein’s aesthetic project of physiologically inducing dialectical thinking may be more messy and complicated in a post- rather than simply modernist society.

neoliberal globalization / envisioning desire

kissing couple

Richard Lam, 2011.

How can a cinematic image of “the masses” call a proletariat into being? There has to be a seductive element to an image; it must be “physiologically persuasive,” as Eisenstein et al. suggest in “Notes for a Film of ‘Capital'” (14).

There is something seductive about the image above; not just to me, but to people worldwide. I initially encountered Lam’s “kissing couple” in a Spanish newspaper and shortly thereafter saw it beneath Hebrew headlines during my semester of global learning. How a student at an American state university wound up at La Universitat de Valencia might be one part of the story behind how this became the image that repeatedly comes to mind when I try and imagine–literally, put an image to–neoliberal globalization.

I think that our reactions towards images can often be traced to desire. How is it that seeing a mass of people can help one imagine the possibility of a mass coalition? What role does desire play in translating this image of a mass to an actual mass movement? I think that both affect and desire need to be part of the conversation when we are thinking about the revolutionary potential of social media.

One place to look might be mimesis: how we seek to mimic the images we encounter. The image above both produces and calls upon a certain subjectivity, one rooted in romantic love amidst terror and violence. Both the fetishized female body and the whiteness of our protagonists–as compared to the black, anonymous, figure  in the foreground–should not be overlooked. Something about this image seems universally understandable in today’s (well, 2011’s) historical moment. This image contains transnational allure. Looking to love amidst terror and violence has common currency in a world in which the 85 wealthiest people own as much as the poorest 50% of humanity.

In class we discussed the argument that film helped the masses to perceive themselves as such, making possible an understanding of the Russian Revolution as a rebellion of the proletariat. I’m interested in the way in which this image plays with our fantasies of what love looks like in such an unequal and violent world. Why, for instance, might more people recognize themselves in the fantasy of love pictured above, more so than here:

book shield

One circuitous detour that might (hopefully) lead us towards answers to these messy questions is through Jose Munoz’s description of the punk rock mosh pit in his article “Gimme Gimme This…Gimme Gimme That,” as a “destructive, generative, annihilative, and innovative” collision of people and objects (102). Munoz’s mosh pit speaks to projects involving the commons and what it feels like to be jostled by bodies in space. Punk rock/concert-loving fans may recognize this experience as desirable. Others, however, might be more desirous of the lover’s embrace, as captured in the first photo. *Perhaps it might be useful here to revisit the longer genealogy of crowd phenomenology, in the work of Engels and Benjamin.*

What, then, is to be done with these two images that suggest alternate styles of world-making amidst violence? If the first is an image of retreat into romantic love, the second is an opening up towards collective love. Part of what I’m struggling to do is take seriously the feeling of the first image in relation to the feeling of the second: the warmth, comfort, and security of a loving embrace and the jostled, unpredictable, and oftentimes invasive feelings of being in a crowd.

I maintain that we need to think about these desires and feelings, given the massive amounts of data that have been produced detailing worldwide inequality. How is it that this data has not produced material redistribution and greater social justice? Does new and better data (such as data visualizations) help draw us closer to social change?