In collaboration with Rumen Rachev. Presented at Play/Perform/Participate International Society for Intermediality Studies Conference in Utrecht, April 2015.
In this lecture performance we study water as an interface whereby colonial encounters are activated and shaped. Interface, in its simplest definition, is what lies in between parts or systems, and can simultaneously be a filter, a control device, and a tool that structures social interactions in public space. Through discussions on colonial water management practices, we approach water as a prototypical interface that structures hierarchies and designates boundaries between the coloniser and the savage. Through this intervention, we take on a postcolonial/ decolonial angle on interfaces and interfacing technologies. These include looking at water as providing the surface for (slave and trade) ships to sale, as a discipling tool for cultural dominance over the so called ‘natives’, and as a dividing line between colonisers/colonised.
This understanding of water is predicated upon a media archaeological perspective to dig deep into the everyday life structure of technologically mediated life. In its material manifestation, water also plays an important role in technology: from the usage of water to cool down data centers, to harvesting the power of water to produce electricity, to water introduced as a material metaphor where technology becomes more ‘fluid’. By aligning different perspectives of water as material and metaphorical, we map out how water performs and participates as an interface.