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Visual & Media Cultures Colloquium: Melody Jue

Seaweed Selfies: Photomedia, Interdigitation, and Hawaiian Networked Images
Wed May 11, 2022, 4:00pm to 5:30pm
online event
Presented by: 
Film & Digital Media
History of Art & Visual Culture


UC Santa Barbara Associate Professor of English Melody Jue presents a talk, "Seaweed Selfies: Photomedia, Interdigitation, and Hawaiian Networked Images," as part of the Visual and Media Cultures Colloquia (VMCC) series.

Free and open to the public.
Attend online.
Register here

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This talk explores the ways that seaweeds participate in processes of their own photographic capture, both digitally and in cyanotype print-making. Focusing on the work of Maui artist Gwen Arkin, the speaker examines histories of photomedia that involve seaweeds as ingredients in developing photography and as having direct contact on photosensitive paper, a kind of non-human photography (Johanna Zylinska) that centers the botanical. In addition, there is an examination of a recurring aesthetic in conservation and community-focused photography by the Hawaii-based organization KUA that frames images of seaweeds in human hands. Building on scholarship of the "selfie" as a networked image (Negar Mottahedeh) and oceanic interconnection (Epeli Hau'ofa), the speaker aims to expand an understanding of the selfie as a political image to include seaweeds, in terms of both materiality and representation. In this way, she theorizes seaweeds as a medium of interdigitation, of human connection within Hawaiian communities. 

Melody Jue is an associate professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, working across the fields of ocean humanities, science fiction, science studies, and media theory. She is the author of Wild Blue Media: Thinking Through Seawater (Duke University Press, 2020), which won the 2020 Speculative Fictions and Cultures of Science book award, and co-editor with Rafico Ruiz of Saturation: An Elemental Politics (Duke Press, 2021). Professor Jue has published articles in journals including Grey RoomConfigurationsWomen’s Studies QuarterlyResilience, and Media+Environment. Her new work explores the mediations of seaweeds in Transpacific contexts. 

The annual Visual and Media Cultures Colloquia (VMCC) at UC Santa Cruz are a collaboration between the graduate programs in Film and Digital Media Department and Visual Studies in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department. The series brings an array of cutting-edge scholars to speak on a broad spectrum of subjects.