Dialogic Liminality: Cartographies of the Inbetween 


A conversation is a mapping of the spaces in between and within subjectivities, geographies, environments, soundscapes, and silences (of voice and thought); in conversing we abide by certain rules of negotiation while breaking others of propriety, manner, logic. In this exposition we aim to explore and enact the liminalities that occur in an artistic dialogue over the course of a series of weeks and reflections. In our capacity as settler scholar feminist artists and researchers, we are interested in understanding and performing scholarship via artistic practice. For this exposition, we negotiated a series of rules for our weekly inquiry. These rules became the map through/by/against which we navigated and re/defined our scholarship, disciplinarity, and research practice. In this work, we create places of overlap and divergence in a fluid “feeling cartography” (Cram 2016), which is “a mode of encounter and trans-ing, entanglement and movement without destination or conclusive points of arrival” (143). This is also a performance of autotheory, which Fournier (2021) describes, as a term “for works that exceed existing genre categories and disciplinary bounds, that flourish in the liminal spaces between categories, that reveal the entanglement of research and creation, and that fuse seemingly disparate modes to fresh effects” (2). Liminality as a theoretical concept emerges out of a diverse body of entangled life work and struggle. We are thinking with those feminist scholars and artists of colour, Anzaldúa and others, without thinking over the specificities of experience. As Barad notes, “Anzaldúa understood the material multiplicity of self, the way it is diffracted across spaces, times, realities, imaginaries” (2014, 175). We take up this material multiplicity in our artistic practice through a lens of posthumunism, which we see as a theoretical pathway into those spaces between agencies and atoms.


The posthumanisms are an invitation to challenge the discrete centrality of human experience and desire, and to instead cultivate attentiveness to the deeply entangled processes of knowing and becoming that constitute the (other-than-)human. Posthumanist methodologies make fluid the binaries and boundaries – the rules –  of entities and disciplines, and enable new intra-agential narratives, relationalities, and understandings of research to emerge. In this exposition, we explore a series of artistic methodologies for engaging in qualitative research from a posthumanist ontological perspective. Via artistic practice we aim to reach towards and become-with our own difference, cultivating methodological practices for engaging with the messy, indeterminate, and contradictory features of research. We engage with what Jack Halberstam (2013) describes as “wild theory” that lives in “spaces of potentiality” (para. 17). This paper charts a collaborative experimental artistic research project that was motivated by our mutual interest in arts-based methodologies for engaging in qualitative research and theory. Over the course of several months, in our capacity as arts-based researchers, graduate students, new friends, and settler feminists, we will engage with a series of questions designed to explore arts-based qualitative research and posthuman life in/as artistic research. Each week, we will respond to a single question via our own artistic methodologies. A posthuman ontological perspective will guide our collaborations with each other, our media, algorithmic contingency, as well as digital glitch and transformation towards performative and generative understandings about research and methodology. Taking up Hayle’s (2012) discussion of technogenesis, throughout this work we engage with how “instruments to measure or register any given transformation are themselves part of the dynamic environment which produces that change” (81). 


Informed by decolonial theory, this work strives towards new forms of expression and modalities of thinking, theorizing, and working together in difference towards enacting difference. In their study exploring the materiality of indigenous-settler history, Jones and Hoskins (2016) wondered if thinking and writing matter more relationally requires the creation of new terms: “Maybe the provocation is to encounter uncertainly the object-world…. The resulting written accounts will have the (irritating or exhilarating) characteristics of fluidity, contingency, ambiguity — and obscurity” (p. 84). We join them in this territory, taking up artistic media to engage with the object-world of research and theory. Posthumanism in this work is a “stor[y] to tell other stories with” (Haraway, 2016, p. 12); a way of unthinking what we think we know about being human, along with what we think we know about ourselves as thinking subjects. Through digital art-based methods we are able to take imaginative and possibly absurd leaps into the unknown and to ask very serious questions that require no answers but instead proliferate creative possibilities.  


Barad, Karen. 2014. "Diffracting Diffraction: Cutting Together-Apart." Parallax (Leeds, England) 20 (3): 168-187.


Cram, E. 2016. "Feeling Cartography." Women's Studies in Communication 39 (2): 141-146.


Halberstam, Jack, “Charming for Revolution: A Gaga Manifesto.” E-flux. https://www.e-flux.com/journal/44/60142/charming-for-the-revolution-a-gaga-manifesto/


Haraway, Donna. Staying with the Trouble. (Duke University Press, 2016).


Hayles, N. Katherine, How we Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012).


Ishii, Sara. 2021. "Applying Gloria Anzaldúa's Creative Works to Speculative Realism: Bridging Jane Bennett's Vital Materialism and Graham Harman's Object-Oriented Philosophy." Philosophia (Albany, N.Y.) 11: 1-25.


Jones, Alison, & Hoskins, Te Kawehau. “A mark on Paper: The Matter of Indigenous-Settler History.” In Posthuman Research Practices in Education, ed. Taylor, Carol Ann & Hughes, Christina. (Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2016), 75-92.



Our weekly investigations will be guided by a single prompt, see Prompt One for an example, which will open up new pages within the exposition where we will document the prompt, our individual artworks, notes on our individual process, as well as unfolding entanglements, resonations, commentary, and artwork that will occurs non-sequentially and as a result of the artworks placed in dialogue.

As with the background images of this page, which is a combination of Hoff's painted maps and Horst's photographic mappings - we will combine, conflate, constrast, and comingle our works into new understandings seeking out unexpected liminalitly, the unplanned, the playful, and the contradictory that might emerge in this colloaborative artistic sympoetical research practice.



Rachel: Recently the coast of British Columbia, Canada, was hit by two atmospheric rivers that brought unprecedented amounts of rain causing massive flooding and damage to infrastructures and buildings with ground level basements. Both the movement and lack of movement of this water - a force with its own needs and desires - was a serious problem for the homes that stood in the water's pathway, including my own. During the rains I was out with a shovel, digging new pathways to divert the water away from the house and our water-logged basement. These trenches were new guidelines, new rules by which I hoped the water and I might come to some kind of agreement. Because my arms were no match for the force of that water's desire, we had to bring in machines that dug out deeper, firmer guidelines, forcing the water into abeyance. In the process of digging, swaths of ground became exposed and the aborted root ends dangle from this pallet of freshly turned earth. From my desk, I see this raw earth as a map of the complicated borderlands between my desires, my needs for dry space to live and work, the desires and rights of the shíshálh people who own this land and who have not invited me here as guest, and the other-than-human desires of the forest that is around me (and in me) that takes no heed of me. The photograph backgrounds in this exposition are taken of these mappings that will soon become enhabited by new plants and life and meaning in the spring, but for now speak to me of these broken rules of my post/human coexistance with water.




Andrea: Across cultures, geographies, and time the act of creating (and of artmaking in more forms than are imaginable) is a way to see the world differently and to envision new paths, new ideas, to understand our present and future world in new and previously unimagined ways. How do the lifeworlds impacted by the urgency of Climate Crisis events over this past year (heat, fire, floods, storms) specifically in British Columbia, in turn impact the urgency of artmaking in response? Beginning with place, the colonial legacies embedded in cartography, the mapping of lands for conquest, ownership, for othering of Peoples and ecologies coexisting time immemorial in these “places” is a starting point in this response. Is it possible to initiate discussion, centred on the impact of place, by first renegotiating the lines drawn on the page? To make the process of mapping irregular and irrelevant in its previous iterations and offer the map as an ever-changing collage of possibilities and of narratives. This process of transforming a map—“assigned” to this place—unreadable as a map may offer new conversations in places outside of time, places impacted beyond cartographic limitations, and to explore ways in which new narratives may be located in and as disruptive cartographies.