A Digital Bojagi Wrapping Presence (2019)

The design for Media Map emerged from an earlier project mapping the cultural history of Koreatown in Los Angeles that was presented at the last FemTechNet confererence – Signal/Noise at University of Michigan in 2016. The design metaphor was the “bojagi” – a traditional form of textile craft made exclusively by women in pre-modern Korea in which scraps of leftover or unused silk, ramie or cloth are stitched together to form a patchwork used to wrap presents, decorate the home or sometimes for ceremonial ritual. The resulting patchwork cloth is uneven, asymmetrical and unique, reflecting the iterative form of community building and becoming practiced in SCRAM. The bojagi thus becomes an appropriate reflection not only of the design and interface of this platform but the way in which this collective comes together. I think of it as a form of digital placemaking for our group where we inscribe a place for ourselves in digital space where collaborative community building is possible…crafting a digital bojagi together from the collective scraps of intersecting concerns that structure the continual becoming of the project and our group. Our digital bojagi is wrapping presence with each other, resisting the privileging of standard modes of authorship, rather, embracing acts of embodied co-creation – this is the way we build trust in transnational networks.

Much of this work of co-creation happens not just instrumentally from meeting at conferences like this one but behind the scenes and over years of getting to know each other informally, being present in different ways with and for each individual and the group. Being present in our demanding and dispersed schedules means we are there by whatever means available whether in person (ideally), or even by simply sending positive reinforcements of good intent iteratively as you stitch and weave the relationalities that build intimacy and trust.  What happens in SCRAM is iterative, not just a one-off moment so finding ways to be present, to connect physically or digitally even if not that regularly is an integral part of the continual act of becoming…of building and sustaining the brilliantly magical and generously powerful group that we have here.