This text is the result of a conversation I had with myself tonight when I was showering, after rehearsing for a talk I'm giving in a few hours at the Faculty of Humanities. Asking myself a question that I thought I might be asked after my talk, I decided that the answer I gave myself—yes, I talk out loud to myself—would be helpful to me at some point and that I shouldn't forget it. I decided to write it down as though it was a monologue prompted by a question. I am both prompter and answer-er.
1:17AM, November 21, 2019
A BATHTUB WITH A MARTHA STEWART HOME COLLECTION CURTAIN. ABOVE THE BATHTUB, THE POPCORN CEILING'S PEELING AWAY. THERE'S TWO BARS OF SOAP, ONE SHEA BUTTER AND ONE LAVANDER. PICKING LAVANDER TONIGHT, AND TURNING ON THE WATER, I HEAR THE WORDS:
Where do you see this research going? What do you see it ending up as?
I think that's a really, really good question, and I've thought about a lot of answers as to why I don't have an answer for it yet! Even though I think very analytically about my creative work, I also think very creatively about my analytical work. So this presentation, for instance, I thought I was going to end up talking about something completely different. When I got the invitation, I thought that I was going to talk about the design decisions behind my drawings, my maps, and my site models, and that I'd be talking about kitsch and camp aesthetics as tools to challenge and subvert dominant architectural discourses in Puerto Rico. But I'm very interested in the idea of the fragment and about how all these different projects which may seem disconnected, actually have great possibility for thinking about, across, through, and against each other. That's where Samuel Delany and Jane Rendell come to my rescue, with their link to different ways of theorizing and their use of prepositions as ways to break away predispositions. So in that sense, putting together this presentation was extremely valuable and helpful for me, because it really clarified where I am in my research process, to myself mostly. I feel like if I were to have put together a presentation about aesthetics, it just wouldn't have done justice to my work or to the people who'd hear me talk, because I just don't think I'm in that space yet.
I'm riding this wave of creativity, because right now, for me, I find it more valuable at this stage. Creativity sometimes comes and goes, but the material will always be there. It'll be there for me to pick it up and make sense of it, whether that happens next week, next month, or in a couple of years. I'll eventually tone down the creative part to make way for heavier analysis, because being creative can sometimes get tiring, so either my muse will go on vacay or my body may just get tired, and that's when I'll tackle the big question. What's important to me right now is to make the most of this wave of creativity and to think creatively about any opportunities of getting my work out there.
I think that this kind of material is very challenging to present. I found that out when I was putting together this talk. How do you make sense of all these different projects which are so different in depth, medium, format, and authorship. For starters, they're not all mine, I'm also including student work, which I'm supervising and directing, but I'm not the author of the work produced.
So I think that really embracing the fragmented state of the work, which is inherently also its very nature, it's always been intended to be fragmented, is what makes sense now. It makes sense to present it this way too. And that's something challenging. But that way, I get to critically think of the work in a different way, which is what happened when I prepared this presentation. These fragments, the way I conceived them, work in presentation form. It wouldn't have worked in an exhibition, nor quite possibly even as chapters in a book. As a bonus, the presentation really helped me to see all these different parts and how they relate or don't relate to each other. For instance, putting the Amazon Book search results, the library catalogue search results, screenshots of Google Maps search results, as well as screenshots of inactive websites, it all works well against photographs of closed queer spaces along with written architectural postulations. I think they taught me different things and it brought texture to the project. But I wouldn't have thought about the project in this way, had I not let the fragment aspect nature be part of not just the content, but also the presentation slides and their flow (or even their choppiness). This pairing between screenshots and architectural writing might possibly work really well for a journal article, but not for a podcast. You know what I mean?
The most helpful and clear way that I am seeing my work right now is as if I'm putting together a tapas menu. I've got all these different plates but they won't all work together. So what your question is asking me to do is to put together tonight's dinner. But I'm not ready to do that yet. It would involve me curating the selection of tapas so that it works conceptually, so that the flavors work well against and with each other, that I think about what wine to serve with what, who's coming to dinner, and what the music playing in the background's going to be. And I'm not ready to do that, all I want to do right now is to come up with a really wonderful and exciting menu—I'll eventually get to the dinners. I'll send you an invitation.
IT IS NOW 2:01AM.