Tung-Hui Hu is an associate professor in the English department at the University of Michigan. In his Academy project, Hu plans to articulate the ambivalence of being caught inside digital systems ...
Dirk Ippen Lecture
Idling Next to the Network
Imagining the internet as a weightless, virtual environment ignores what photographer Allan Sekula terms the “slow, maritime movement of heavy things” that makes this perception of weightlessness possible in the first place. After all, digital networks don’t just transmit data between computers; they are logistical networks that locate, position, and coordinate goods, information, and bodies alongside each other, binding users and suppliers from one continent to another. Tung-Hui Hu explores this dynamic by examining the work of what he terms “lethargic” artists, such as Puerto Rico-based choreographer and dancer Nibia Pastrana Santiago, who have used their practice to theorize maritime logistics and globalization. The work of these artists reveals how the very act of doing nothing is rejected in today’s always-on society, particularly for persons of color, who have been historically stereotyped as lazy. Examining key performances, Hu argues that the lethargy of bodies idling at the edge of today’s global networks can help us understand the new forms of labor, movement, and endurance inside our digital environment.
In cooperation with Berlin Science Week