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Trina in the Desert

“Trina is a design fiction that takes the form of a 3-part pecha-kucha that can be performed live, viewed as a narrated slideshow online, or read in print as a graphic novel. Conceived by Anne Burdick in collaboration with writer Janet Sarbanes (Army of One), the show-and-tell of this short story follows Trina, a literary scholar who works in solitude in her house in the desert. Trina’s adjunct status requires her to take on text analysis H.I.T.s (human intelligence tasks) to make ends meet. Through Trina’s eyes we see the always-on lively digital world that is her daily reality and within which the mystery of a cryptic, typewritten document unfolds.”



More things seen at DH + Design in May. Anne Burdick, in one of the keynotes, shared work on Trina and design fiction on the second day. At some point, I’ll post micha cárdenas work which does something possible similar as far as design fiction, game theory, and imagining possible futures as well from a trans woman of color perspective. That said, although the visual makes it clear Trina is a white woman or white presenting woman of color, whiteness and a social construction of white womanhood don’t appear to be built into her (Trina’s) design…except to the extent that race-neutral and gender-neutral design tends to default to whiteness because it doesn’t make it’s positionality explicit?

Which is to say, in plain English–this was very interesting to watch and hear more about because a woman of color could be inserted visually into the narrative without necessarily having to edit the text.

*record scratch*

Hmm….unless the woman is indigenous. Out in the flats of the desert, would her relationship to looking out at the land and her internal monologue around that be different? Would she see the land and not see empty space, rabbits, and coyotes, but something else? I need to think more on this, but I think so….

As far as pedagogy, an interesting project for a class–design your own Trina story.

Burdick is behind the Micro Mega Meta Project which uses design to ask questions about where the humanities is going (if it is going the way of the big, the corporate, and, considering the Trina narrative, the militaristic):

“Historically, the Humanities has been responsible for the maintenance and interpretation of the cultural record‚ a record that now grows exponentially. Much of the work of the Humanities could be described as micro—close reading and deep interpretation of individual artifacts and small collections. The Humanities has also been home to the meta—philosophical inquiry, critical theory, comparative analysis, and history….

“Micro Mega Meta will use design to consider what the qualities and capacities of such information environments might be through design experiments and writing informed by software studies, science and technology studies, digital humanities, and speculative critical design. Ultimately, Micro Mega Meta hopes to make an argument for the contributions design can make to new modes of knowledge production.”