In Summer 2021, twelve USC graduate students representing multiple schools and departments met once-weekly to discuss a series of group project considering that year's CFP theme, "Changing Infrastructures" (CFP Here). Culminating in a variety of final projects of various forms, each week was spent with generative conversation, collective engagement with ideas, and presentations of works-in-progress throughout the summer months.
Writing (on) urban landscapes: wall writing, graffiti, and public inscriptions (Sui Wang & Ziwei Chen)
For millennia, the city has been informally archiving itself on its skin, with materials ranging from clay and stone to architectural surface. Writings on different landscapes take myriad forms, carrying public messages to its residents and visitors. These inscriptions reform and reactivate streets, where public “speech becomes writing” and chaos brews revolutionary energy. This project aims to examine the public inscriptions of two cities, Los Angeles and Shanghai. The former has been a major venue of graffiti expression since the 1980s, while the latter manifests China's urban planning initiative in the change of its typographical landscape.
Los Angeles River as Contested Infrastructure (Nick Earhart & Maria Labourt)
Our project examines the Los Angeles River as a site of experimentation for experts, artists, and other concerned actors. Concisely, we expect to capture the ways in which the Los Angeles River is (and has been) an imaginative canvas for a range of hopes and ambitions. We will build on archival material -with a special focus on sketches, technical and artistic illustrations, photographs, and other forms of representations of the river- to compile a visual essay. We expect that this essay will illustrate a collective imaginary of a contested infrastructure.
Soundscapes as the Infrastructure of Revolutionary Politics (Rocio Leon & Michael Anthony Turcios)
This project is a storymap that maps and listens to Black, Indigenous, and displaced peoples who use ‘sonic constellations of power’ to challenge state violence across the Americas. The authors include four case studies beginning with 1994, a year marked by Indigenous resistance to the global consolidation of capital that continues to forge uneven development and maintain Eurocentric racial hierarchies. The project concludes with 2020 as the sounds for Black lives remind us about the injustices operating loudly and silently. LINK
Decarcerating the Classroom (Jessica Hatrick, Fidelia Lam, & Jody Liu)
For this project, the authors examine how universities have expanded their relationship to carcerality through the use of technology and human resources in grading and testing students. Proctoring software instantiated by the university extends the power of the university beyond the physical bounds of the classroom. The primary aim of this project is to join the broader conversation about what decarcerated education can look like, what an abolitionist pedagogy means for how we engage technology, and what foregrounding the life-giving and life-sustaining possibilities of education could mean for how we approach testing and assignments in higher education. LINK