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Gentle Dismantlings

Letter from the Editors: Calling All the Wild Ones
Dr. Kit Braybrooke, Julia Kloiber and Michelle Thorne

Big Green Lies
Gayatri Ganesh

Iryna Zamuruieva

The Quizumba is On: Technological Appropriation by Black Women in the Amazon
Thiane de Nazaré Monteiro Neves Barros

Fugitive Memory: for Tu’i Malila
Kate Hennessy and Trudi Lynn Smith

Gathering Multitudes: A Bag of Stars
Dr. Padmini Ray Murray

Obtrusive Relationships
Georgina Voss and Eva Verhoeven

Stories for Revolution
Marjahn Finlayson

About Branch

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Gathering Multitudes: A Bag of Stars

An invitation to explore new metaphors for feminist autonomous infrastructures

“Gathering Multitudes: A bag of stars” is an interactive 3D essay, encouraging players exploring a game-world to imagine spaces such as seed banks as a metaphor for digital servers and to contribute their own visions for the same. The approach is inspired by feminist autonomous infrastructures which are grounded in consent, intimacy, situated knowledge and memory, seeded connectedness and autonomous decision-making.

Our work at Design Beku offers speculations and alternatives to the suffocating technological regimes that we find ourselves subject to. “Gathering Multitudes: A bag of stars” is a 3D essay, encouraging players exploring a game world to imagine spaces like seed banks as a metaphor for digital servers and to contribute their own visions. In the game, you walk through the essay, explore related inspirational materials and, ultimately, leave a love note to the promise and potentialities of seeding alternative spaces for our stories. Servers and hardware might seem far removed from the gentle and generative promise of community seed banks, but “Gathering Multitudes” is an invitation to remember that technology is built by human beings and that it is possible to re-imagine how we can use technology in human and humane ways.  

This approach is inspired by the notion of feminist autonomous infrastructures, which is grounded in the principles of: 

  • Consent and intimacy 
  • Situated knowledge and memory 
  • Seeded connectedness 
  • Autonomous decision making 

Listen to Jac sm Kee et al’s podcast “Technomagical Fires to warm your heart” for more on feminist autonomous infrastructures.

This work was also inspired by the folks at Solar Protocol in New York, an initiative which offers low-carbon alternatives to the energy-intensive corporate server model, an excellent example of how autonomous structures might manifest in the world. I was attracted to how poetically this project supports my hypothesis of seeds as data and look forward to seeing this data garden grow. 

Screenshot from game: How does data tell us these stories
Screenshot from game: Ursula LeGuin and the stories of gathering

Dr. Padmini Ray Murray is a feminist designer, researcher and maker whose practice focuses on challenging acts of infrastructural and algorithmic violence by creating alternative digital spaces and imaginations. She founded Design Beku in 2018, a collective of researchers, artists, technologists and designers who work towards making design and digital practice more locally rooted, contextually relevant and ethical. 

“Gathering Multitudes: A bag of stars” was commissioned by the NEON Digital Festival 2021 as part of their Wired Women theme. It is available to play at https://tinyurl.com/multitudes21. The game is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

References: D’Ignazio, Catherine, and Lauren F. Klein. Data feminism. MIT Press, 2020 // Le Guin, Ursula K. The carrier bag theory of fiction. Ignota Books, 2019 // Niederberger, Shusha. “Feminist Server – Visibility and Functionality: Digital Infrastructure as a Common Project.”