Post-Internet Queer Reproductive Work and The fixed Capital of Fertility: The Interface, the Network and the Viral as Themes and Modes of artistic Response

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Doctoral thesis (monograph)
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Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL THESES, 103/2023
This research considers the digital infrastructures and interfaces of the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) industry as a depository for human memory and a powerful translation zone where beliefs regarding social and biological reproduction are fashioned today. Offering an innovative take on the dynamic interaction between sexuality and digital technologies, this thesis sets out how queer reproduction struggles, as evidenced in the long history of pathologizing queer parenting structures and the networks of care forged during the HIV/AIDS crisis, are not just a glimmer haunting the IVF-centred heteronormative fertility clinic but structurally linked across the systems of accumulation that order capitalist expansion. The concept of “post-internet queer reproductive work” fuses three scholarly traditions: the study of queer work, theorizations of reproductive labor and the concept of fixed capital. Chapters 1-4 define and mobilise these concepts, suggesting how they interact and inform each other in the context of the financialized fertility market, with a focus on the facial-matching algorithm boom in Spain and European clinic and bank websites. Post-internet queer reproductive work is further elaborated on through close readings of 1970s UK lesbian magazine Sappho, who published poetry and operated as a network for resource sharing across disability, sexuality, race and class struggles, and Gay Gamete (2000), a work of Net Art by U.S artist Clover Leary that protested an FDA protocol regulating gamete donation according to sexuality and sexual practices. Beyond historical examples, the concept of post-internet queer reproductive work attends analytically to the processes through which the social knowledge accumulated in queer reproduction struggles is incorporated as the fixed capital and “digital machines” of the global fertility market. Chapters 5-6 contextualise the artistic dimension of this thesis as it is constituted by an animation film, a Net Art work, a poetry book and ongoing editorial project Them, All Magazine, which brings together poetry, critical writing and Net/Code/Software Art on the subject of reproductive politics and sexuality. Broadly, this research proposes a reclaiming of the interface, network and viral as themes and modes of artistic response to reproductive control. While the interface, network and viral are staple topics in the fields of Software Studies and Visual Studies of the Internet, they have not been a main concern for Feminist Social Reproduction Theory or related studies of assisted reproduction. On the other hand, social reproduction struggles and sexuality have not always been at the center of studies of the interface, the network and the viral. This thesis is an original contribution to the interdisciplinary field of reproduction studies by developing a Queer Marxist perspective on assisted reproduction, fixed capital and reproductive labor –and their intersections– and by presenting post-internet art works and practices as modes of response to reproductive control. Layering critical, sociological, historical, audiovisual, editorial, auto- and poetic gazes, this thesis develops an interdisciplinary mode of “gestural writing” as a method and way of knowing that centres bodily feeling and political becomings.
Supervising professor
Kallio-Tavin, Mira, Prof., Aalto University, Department of Art and Media, Finland
arts, queer studies, artistic response
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