Possible Bodies

Clumsy Computing

Item number: 128
Item title: Clumsy Computing
Author(s) of the item: Helen V. Pritchard
Year in which the item emerged culturally or was produced industrially: 2021
Entry of the item into the inventory: 29 March 2022
Activities in which the item participated: Volumetric Regimes

Clumsy Computing is a term coined by comrade Helen V. Pritchard in their chapter titled "Clumsy Volumetrics", a written reaction to the Volumetric Regimes publication:

"The inherited histories of colonialism stretch into 3D practices to shape and direct bodies: “colonialism makes the world ‘white’, which is of course a world ‘ready’ for certain kinds of bodies, as a world that puts certain objects within their reach”. This orientation starts within the worldsetting of x = 0, y = 0, z = 0 and spreads out across 3D space; the mesh, the coordinate system, geometry and finally, the world. However, what are the orientations that spread from this computational world-setting to shape spaces? How does it also reinforce what is already made reachable or not, livable or not, from the zero point of orientation, from which the world unfolds?

When worlds are set in modeling software, the possibilities for bodies are narrowly scripted — computationally pre-determining the objects that stay in reach. And like in the physical world these “orientations become socially given by being repeated over time”. Indeed, as Item 007 shows, volumetric world-settings are an attempt to fix in place how the world unfolds from a zero-point orientation. An orientation which shapes and is shaped by a certain kind of body as a norm and what Sara Ahmed calls less room to wiggle — “[l]ess wiggle room: less freedom to be; less being to free”. So, in volumetric regimes — when worlds are world-set in ways that computationally shape the body to the world, through directions between fixed points, what about the bodies that don’t fit or don’t follow the set directions?

Ahmed suggests that “clumsiness” might be the way to form a queer and crip ethics to generate new openings and possibilities. Clumsy referring to when we wiggle off the path, are out of time with each other and become in the way of ourselves:

Bodies that wriggle might be crip bodies, as well as a queer bodies; bodies that do not straighten themselves out. The elimination of wriggle might be one form of what Robert McRuer calls “compulsory able-bodied-ness,” which is tied to compulsory [cis-gendered] straightness, to being able to follow as closely as you can the line you are supposed to follow.

Making the affinity present between queer and crip, Ahmed notes, clumsiness is not always a process which brings us together or attunes us, it can also be the moments – the desiring moments – when we bump into the world. Clumsiness is a powerful political orientation, one in which our ways of relating to, and depending on, each other are reconfigured."

To read it fully: https://volumetricregimes.xyz/index.php?title=Clumsy_Volumetrics