Edge Effects: Queer Virtual Arcades is an exploratory digital experiment, loosely inspired by Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project, that queers the investigation into who, what and how emerging technologies connect with our bodies, lives and desires. Part archive, part electronic literature, this work represents the first stage of a larger transmedia project by Engel and Fisher investigating tools, platforms and digital strategies that help us to weave together the digital and the analogue, human and machine, and interactivity that moves us beyond linearity to multiplicity. Our larger project aims to literalize the circuit formed by the digital and the queer, thus representing an emerging, heterogenous interactivity that produces radical possibilities – possibilities that we call edge effects.
The project archive showcased here uses Flourish to connect concepts with small questions and nano-stories. It is still in the early stages of development. Further iterations will experiment with multiple platforms – including an immersive, navigable space built in Unity, a social space in VR Chat and WebXR. Ultimately, our Benjaminian digital arcade aims both to capture and perform some of these edge effects and includes new electronic writing alongside examples, ephemera and experiments in spatial theorymaking.
Maureen Engel is a lecturer in digital culture in the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland and Associate Professor of Digital Humanities at the University of Alberta, Canada. At Alberta, she served as Director of Digital Humanities (2011-13; 2015-2019), and Director of the Canadian Institute for Research Computing in Arts (2011-2019). Formally trained as a textual scholar, her background is in cultural studies, queer theory, and feminist theory. Her principal research area is the spatial humanities, and the intricate relationships that inhere in and develop from the concepts of space, place, history, and narrative.
Caitlin Fisher directs the Immersive Storytelling Lab @Cinespace Studios and the Augmented Reality Lab at York University in Toronto where she is also a Professor and Chair of the Department of Cinema and Media Arts. A co-founder of York’s Future Cinema Lab and former Fulbright and Canada Research Chair, Caitlin is an award-winning digital storyteller. She serves on the international Board of Directors for HASTAC, the Humanities Arts Science Alliance and Collaboratory, and as Vice-President of the Electronic Literature Organization.