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Title: Code-Switching
Authors: Rinehart, Richard
Keywords: queer
new media
digital art
Issue Date: 17-Oct-2017
Abstract: Speaking in code is the well-documented strategy of subaltern and queer cultures that grants queer people safe passage amidst hostile environments. Queer codes are never entirely separate, but woven into other forms of expression from mannerisms, to dress, to phrasing and even new sub-languages such as Polari, the slang language of sailors, prostitutes, and queer folk that was woven into 19th century English. This code-switching serves not only the utilitarian purpose of allowing for secret and safe communications but also codes lines of queer consciousness into the script of straight mainstream culture to restate and reimagine the world. This paper/presentation considers code-switching new media art. It identifies artists who employ software, animation, and digital video to write queerness into the ubiquitous languages of new media technology and culture. This paper contrasts artists who employ straightforward representational and political strategies of depicting a queer subject or projecting a queer identity with other artists who intone a more liminal queer aesthetic strategy, social awareness, or queered utopianism in their work. This paper builds a queer media art history on the foundation of queer theories of futurity as outlined by Jose Esteban Muñoz, focusing on queer ways of coding, doing, and being as much as on discrete artworks. This paper is not about what queer art looks like from the outside, but rather how new media, art history, and queer theory form a compound lens for seeing out onto the world.
Description: Biography: Richard Rinehart is Director and Chief Curator of the Samek Art Museum at Bucknell University in the United States. He has served as Digital Media Director & Adjunct Curator at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and as curator at New Langton Arts and for the San Jose Arts Commission. He juried for the Rockefeller Foundation,, and others. Richard has taught courses on art and new media at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Art Institute and elsewhere. He served on the boards of the Berkeley Center for New Media, New Langton Arts, and the Museum Computer Network. He has lead NEA and NEH-funded national research projects on new media, art, preservation, and museums. He has recently published a book with MIT Press on preserving digital culture, co- authored with Jon Ippolito – Re-Collection: Art, New Media, & Social Memory (
Appears in Collections:1. Re:Trace Conference - Keynotes, Papers & Posters

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