D: When did you first feel the need of writing Glitch Feminism? What inspired you to write it?
L.R: Writing this book came out of a desire to have a different sort of space to think and strategize and imagine outside of my graduate studies. I was working on my dissertation and thinking about the ways in which institutional spaces so often alienate people from their own lived experience, the ways where QTPOCIA+ identities exist in the classroom as theory-only. I was reading about myself but not seeing myself. So I decided to begin writing about the glitch as a way of considering what it means to intervene and disrupt a space that we aren’t meant to exist within, and to do so and survive—live—gorgeously. I wanted to create a book that put artists in the driver’s seat, and provides a different model for what a sort of dispersed and decentralized art history and visual culture could look like if you take the power back.
D: In the introduction of the book, you mention that in middle school you adopted the internet as a liberatory space where you could be anyone. What is your point of view in 2021? Did it change?
L.R: I think for people who continue to be deeply concerned about the questions of physical harm away from their screens, digitally networked space continues to be incredibly important as a site of collectivity, community, and care. I recognize that digital space is not utopic—it, too, is deeply flawed. However, it is flawed because it is a reflection of the world we live in. So if we do this work in the world, it will change the digital worlds we build, and vice-versa.
D: What kind of an impact did ’90s Cyberfeminism leave on you?
L.R: I think the cyberfeminism of the 1990s has been a great contribution to the ways we can think through what it means to be a body on the Internet. However, bound up within a 1990s cyberfeminism is a sort of logic of First Wave feminism, where upwardly mobile and often straight white women are often identified as being primary contributors and more complex conversations about race and gender are suppressed. It feels useful to consider a more intersectional model of cyberfeminism that aims to be more inclusive and, too, recognizes the contributions of Black and queer people to the landscape of the Internet as we now know it, and as well the advancement of what it can do as a technology.
D: Glitches are often cast as an error and a fault, but in your book you ask whether we can apply this logic, of using error and faulty as a way of opening up space. Is there an easy way to get there?
L.R: Embodying the glitch is about celebrating error as an opportunity. It’s about breaking what’s broken toward opening up new possibilities, proposing new bodies, programming new worlds.
D: We heard that Black Meme (your video essay published in 2020) is the subject of your second book you are currently working on. Could you please tell us more about the concept?
L.R: BLACK MEME identifies points across history that have paved the way for the notion of the “meme” as we understand it today, setting the stage for the construct of digital virality. I define “Black meme” as the copying and transmission of blackness-as-memetic-material. My hope is that the book will be a resource in expanding the histories around the impact of Blackness, Black life, and Black social death on contemporary conceptions of virality borne in the age of the Internet. This is an incredibly important subject to talk about as the virality of Black culture—the ways in which Black images travel, in our life, and, devastatingly, in our death—didn’t begin with the Internet, although people like to pretend that is the case. So much of the troubles we are witnessing now have deep-seated precedent, especially within the arc of a culture as it intersects with the ongoing legacy of slavery and supremacy here in America.
D: What are the last three books you read?
L:R: BLACKSPACE: On the Poetics of Afrofuture by Anaïs Duplan; Wild Peach by S*an D. Henry-Smith; Becoming Human by Zakiyyah Iman Jackson
D: What are the last three movies you watched?
L.R: LAkira Kurosawa’s High and Low; Garrett Bradley’s TIME; Camille Billops’s Finding Christa.