Troubling the Border: Global Poetic Trans* Dislocations
This essay considers, through analysis of two interrelated art projects, the roles that technology and art play in the metaphors that serve, both imaginatively and literally, to form, maintain, surveil, and dissolve borders. The first, the Transborder Immigrant Tool, is a poetic and geo-locative project by artist collective Electronic Disturbance ... Theatre 2.0 (EDT 2.0). The Tool was designed to aid migrants crossing the US-Mexico border as a last mile safety device, by leading users to water caches in the desert and playing audio files of desert survival poetry. The second is a related poetry series by trans* poet and artist Micha Cárdenas (a member of EDT 2.0), exploring the possible dislocations of unexecutable code poetry to unpack the way each of these poetic projects form a figuration of transness as/at a border crossing or, indeed, a border dissolving. Both of these projects subvert the metaphors and applications of global positioning (GPS) technology to question the fixities of national and bodily borders. This essay considers how and to what extent the trans of transborder might be coterminous or conversant with the trans of transgender, as well as how trans* might be wielded conceptually to unpack the functions and slippages of the metaphors that produce and maintain borders of all kinds.
Original publication in
On_culture: the open journal for the study of culture 10 (2020)