Makers Gonna Make at HASTAC 2019

a modern-looking quilt with three green hexagonal sections, joined to sections of fabric that are black with grey markings

Image: “Weaver’s Web” game clue quilt created by Anastasia Salter

The Critical Maker Faire is scheduled for two consecutive sessions on Friday morning in The Nest, Performance Theater at University of British Columbia.

  • Session 1H 9am
  • Session 2J 10:15am

Activity leaders and / or participants are welcome to attend one or both sessions as they are able.

List of participating makers and activities:

  • Kim Brillante Knight: LilyPad Arduino; academic zine-making (bring an article!); Twitterbots
  • Sarah Lozier-Laiola: I’m planning to talk about building multi-voiced, textual performances with Stepworks. I’ve been playing with this in my own work, and tried out assignments with it this semester, so can talk both pedagogy and research with it.
  • John Murray: I will be showing how to use Ink to create interactive experiences in Unity. I will share some of the practices used in creating Salt Immortal Sea, an e-lit ipad app created in collaboration with Joellyn Rock and Mark Marino and published in New River journal.
  • Anastasia Salter: Quilting (including collage, applique, and modern quilts!), playful procedural generation, and fiber arts as critical making.
  • Jacqueline Wernimont: line drawing, decomposing, crochet, weaving
  • David Worcester: I am simply asking any member of the community to bring their identity to light in a handwritten letter – anonymous or otherwise – to a personification of LGBTQ identity.

If you’d like to bring some work-in-progress or a mini-tutorial to share, let us know about it here:

NB: Unfortunately, Radhika Gajjala had to cancel her HASTAC trip, but we know she will be stitching or spinning with us in spirit. This just gives us an excuse to hold another event at some point!

Examples of Critical Making

The CriticalMaker.Space team thought it might be helpful to share a few examples of Critical Making, from our own practice and from projects that we find inspiring.

We purposely resist defining “critical making” with too much specificity. In the nascent scholarship on critical making in the Humanities, authors explore the relationship between process and end product; the role of collaboration; the entanglement of theory and practice; the relationship between art, craft, design, and making; and connections between makers and communities, among other things.

We hope you’ll join us in continuing this exploration.

A black and white illustration showing 8 faceless figures hunched over desks, using pencils or styluses to write or draw. A large face looms in profile in the right foreground. ribbons of content flow from the large face's mouth into the heads of the faceless figures. We see that the content they are drawing replicates the patterns from the ribbons. A caption at top reads 'For efficient transmission," while one at the bottom says, 'Directly dispensed from sender to receivers.'
Nick Sousanis

Nick Sousanis’ dissertation as comic trades textual density for visual density, inviting readers to reconsider expectations in both pedagogical and scholarly communication. The images act as visual citations as well as theoretical arguments, layering provocations and critique of the elevation of text. The work is in the tradition of scholarly comics (Scott McCloud’s work being most notorious), but particularly notable for its imagery and metatextual argument about how visual making and thinking provides a mechanism for shifting perspectives and challenging assumptions.

Four quilt blocks, two large and two small hang on a white wall. All four depict QR codes. The two large blocks are hung on either side of the smaller blocks, which are hung vertically with one above the other. Clockwise, starting at 12, the blocks appear as follows: 12 o'clock: a mid-sized border of purple fabric, except for off-white squares in each corner; The QR code is in the center, also in purple, on an off-white background. 3 o'clock (large): an off-white background, the QR code is mostly of brown fabric with three teal squares in the corners. 6 o'clock: a thin purple border around a swuare of white. Each corner has a pink design. In the center, the QR code is a darker pink. 9 o'clock (large); the background is a lightly patterned off-white fabric with a thin blue border; The QR code is made of mottled blue and brown fabric, likely a batik of some sort. Below the quilt squares, a blonde wood floating shelf hangs on the wall. A small white tablet is placed on the shelf.
Blocked Connections
Anastasia Salter and Anne Sullivan

A collaborative experiment in digital-physical integration. Four working QR code quilts, each leading to a procedurally-remixed page with content about its fictional maker. This installation thus combines two traditions of meaning: one analog, the language and traditions of quilt blocks, and one digital, the interconnected hypertext trails of communication unlocked through finding the QR codes. Hypertext elements were built in Tracery (an open-source library created by Kate Compton). Shared as an installation piece at the Electronic LIterature Organization Media Arts Show, 2018.

A screenshot of the Every3Minutes Twitter timeline showing three tweets, one of which has an image of parchment attached. The tweets read, from the top, "In the antebellum U.S. South a slaver just sold a human being's friend"; "In the antebellum U.S. South -- a person was just purchased"; and "A person was sold about every 3 minutes in the antebellum era. One was called Eliza."
Every Three Minutes Bot
Caleb McDaniel

“Every three minutes, a human was sold into slavery in the Antebellum US South.” This is the governing concept for Caleb McDaniel’s Every Three Minutes protest bot that, in Sean Graham’s words “confront[s] us with hard truths [and] in [its] inhuman persistence, call[s] out for justice.” As the short selection above illustrates, this Twitter bot tweets every three minutes, reminding — or as Graham says, “shaming” — its followers with the truth that, in the Antebellum South, a person was just sold. Besides the frequency with which these reminders show up in a follower’s feed, a striking part of the bot’s efficacy is in its phrases that remind its followers of the humanity of the enslaved. Tweets like “In the antebellum U.S. South, a white slaver just bought someone’s friend,” or “#OnThisDay in history, a slaver just sold a black person’s child” rehumanize the otherwise dry reporting of an apparently objective statistic.

The two gifs above come from two chapters in a series of experiments thinking about ways to more closely tie the pleasure and creativity of poetic interpretation, with the pleasure and creativity of poetry. The series is based on the homo-phonic poem, “Kirstenography” by Harryette Mullen (part of her Sleeping With the Dictionary collection), a homophonic poem where there are always two versions at play: the version presented visually as words on the page, and the version heard in the oral or subvocal performance (in the case of silent reading). With each click, a new line of text appears from the left and right in simultaneity. One line of text is Mullen’s original poem, and the other is a homo-phonic interpretation. Each chapter engages different ways to perform the interpretation alongside the poem, while taking pleasure from the ways language fills the screen. The performances are done in Stepworks, created by Erik Loyer, and are playable at the links above.

A screenshot of  a website, showing the site Title The Resisters. Below the title we see part of a large image, showing clouds against an orange sky. Across the image the words You found me sit against a mostly transarent background. To the right of the title we see top level menu items named Welcome and The Story.
The Resisters
Alexandrina Agloro and Codesigners

For The Resisters (2014) Alex Agloro codesigned an anti-racist, location-specific alternate reality game with local youth in Providence, RI. The game centered on the history of local social movements and involved archival research, game development, and participatory design. In writing about the project Agloro notes the ways in which the project called for radical patience, stretched the contours of research as it is traditionally defined in the academy, and troubled the boundaries herself and her youth collaborators as she occupied multiple roles as codesigner, mentor, and friend.

Stitch n’ Glitch
Fashioning Circuits, Feminist MakerSpace, Studio for Mediating Play, and Social Practice and Community Engagement (SPaCE) Media @ UT Dallas

The Stitch n’ Glitch was a monstrous embroidery project that took place in October 2018. Four different creative studios at UT Dallas collaborated to produce a 12-foot long collage of images of feminist media art that participants were invited to stitch on. The event was staged over two areas: the “kitchen table” provided a space of gathering, learning, and communing before participants moved to the “studio” to add stitches to the tapestry. In addition to participant-stitches, the tapestry also had fabric cutouts of feminist iconography and a soft circuit that played “the future is feminist” in morse code when a button was pushed.

One more point we’d like to make is that critical making also includes critical curation. To reveal/ articulate meaning through making – beyond use value – reveal cultural, social and economic meaning

Critical praxis of making will lead you to question status quo

It could be a journey, a process – leading to a product that’s either considered complete or unfinished – but the meaning must unravel and reveal – rupture and crack… make us think …

Below are links to two such examples of making and curation.

Techno Imaginations: Internet Lore in Asia

Joana Vasconcelos exhibit at Château de Versailles (2012)


Critical Maker.Space is a collaboration between researchers and critical makers at various institutions. The site was launched as an anchor and space to collect information for “Critical Maker Faire” workshop session at HASTAC 2019.

Neither the site, nor the workshop, are managed or organized by HASTAC.

The organizers are:

  • Radhika Gajjala, PhD, Professor of Media and Communication and American Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University.
  • Kim Brillante Knight, PhD, Associate Professor of Critical Media Studies in the School of the Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at The University of Texas at Dallas.
  • Sarah Whitcomb Laiola, PhD, Assistant Professor of Digital Culture and Design at Coastal Carolina University.
  • Anastasia Salter, PhD, Associate Professor of Games and Interactive Media at the University of Central Florida.

CFM: Call for Makers at HASTAC 2019

a modern-looking quilt with three green hexagonal sections, joined to sections of fabric that are black with grey markings

Image: “Weaver’s Web” game clue quilt created by Anastasia Salter

Maker-faires are associated with some of the best – and worst – aspects of STEM and Silicon Valley tech culture. The term brings to mind experimentation through hands-on work, sometimes for the sake of solving a problem, but more often simply to see if something can be done or made in a way that compels or moves a viewer. However, those solutions and experiments too-frequently reflect neoliberal, misogynist, racist, and settler-colonial assumptions about what types of making are valued.

Critical making explores the intersection of theory and practice (as demonstrated in work such as Roger Whitson and Dene Grigar’s 2014 Critical Making session at MLA and Jentery Sayer’s 2017 edited collection Making Humanities Matter), and particularly invites us to think about the importance of “doing” when studying digital art and media. The HASTAC Critical Maker Faire applies an intersectional feminist lens to maker-faire practices and technologies, considering how we might bring more inclusive feminist, anti-racist, and decolonial practices of making into our pedagogy and practice.

Critical Maker.Space is coming to HASTAC 2019! For those who don’t know it, HASTAC (pronounced “haystack”) is the Humanities, Arts, Sciences, Technology, Alliance and Collaboratory, “an interdisciplinary community of humanists, artists, social scientists, scientists, and technologists changing the way we teach and learn” (

This 90-minute workshop, led by four researchers with experience in critical making as pedagogical and scholarly expression, invites HASTAC 2019 makers to share their work and methods in an open workshop. The session will begin with a 10-minute introduction to critical making, during which we will outline our goals of troubling the ways “maker” is currently centered in the norms of STEM and assigned primarily to white, cis-male, bodies and communities.

Makers will then set up in faire-style spaces in which they will engage in different short hands-on experiments with participants. Participants will thus leave having not only listened and seen, but also having made their own discursive artifacts.

We will close with a 10-minute debriefing asking participants to consider the tools or approaches they just used and how they might facilitate shifting epistemologies of making.

The organizers seek makers, including but not limited to:

  • Textile artists, including embroiderers, subversive stitchers, quilters, and makers of expressive clothing
  • Wearable makers, including those who integrate circuitry into garments and devices intended for personal use
  • Glitch artists and disrupters, including those who intentionally break or transform the workings of existing technology through remaking software, hardware, and aesthetics (think possessed Furby installations, etc)
  • Procedural artists, including bot-makers and others who use tools such as Tracery to make expressive automated remixes, artwork, and commentary
  • Community-based crafters, tinkerers, and makers

The workshop is scheduled on Friday, May 17 9am – 11:45am. The conference runs the evening of May 16 through the evening of May 18, 2019 at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.

To indicate your intention to participate, please fill out the following form by May 10.