I have just returned from a week in Sydney attending the Somatechnics conference put on by Macquarie University, Dept of Critical and Cultural Studies. I managed to out do myself entirely by missing the plane in both directions. I think this might be a sign that I am trying to fit too much into my life….
The conference was interesting. It had a very broad focus, which on the one hand was good as the elements that were of no interest to me were easy to avoid, and on the other hand meant that the dialogue was rather fragmented. There were certain cliques that formed within the conference body and some of these did not really seem to cross over at all. At times it felt as if there were two or three different conferences squeezed into the one. However, it is early days yet. Part of the impetus behind the conference seemed to be an attempt to work through what the neologism ‘somatechnics’ may incorporate or address. For it to be a useful term it will need to become more streamlined and particular in its focus, otherwise it will date as fast as any other piece of generalised academic verbiage. And of course each clique will have its agenda as to how the term should be honed. Personally, I think it would be much more interesting if it shifted its focus away from 90s subcultural aesthetics, in the form of piercing and tattoos.
During my time in Sydney I also gave a presentation on my bone speakers at the monthly meeting of the Sydney Dorkbot chapter. Unsurprisingly enough, I was the only girl there for most of the evening. However, it was a really great forum. I got some useful feedback from the audience about what I could do to improve on the work and had a few good chats.