Gay Bombs / Sketches / Part 5

5 Working with Consumerism

We return to Galloway and Thacker’s statement: “counterprotocol practices can capitalize on the homogeneity found in networks to resonate far and wide with little effort.” In the battle for queer technical agency, the network of war is consumerism. Any technological intervention into the social must recognize that the majority of people in the world encounter technology primarily or only as a consumable good. An absolute blurring exists between the need for technology as endemic to western survival and the desire for technology as consumable of excess. Technology flatlines at consumer capital, where politics become pure aesthetic. Think back to Benjamin: fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life.

theSoftQueerBody must propogate itself through the networks of consumerism. This is the primary point of engagement, hypertrophy. As life has now arranged itself completely around flows of capital, biopolitical stakes are the highest with these actions of infection, introjection.

Desiring Product

The Sunshine Project reported that the US government had allocated 7.5 million dollars for the funding of the military’s gay bomb proposal.

In capital, the limits of desire are capsized by the price tag. For the government—a being predicated on societal exception, the limits of desire are perhaps unknown. The reconfiguration of product thus reconfigures desire. A reconstitution of desire at odds with the logic of capital breaks down aesthetics to reveal political engagements and urgencies. We turn back to Benjamin again: art in the age of mechanical reproduction concerns itself with the political rather than the aura.

Queer Technologies of the theSoftQueerBody must circulate as political products to displace desire so that it may reform as queer.

Queer Capitalism

To name this strategy, Queer Technologies practices Queer Capitalism. As Munoz has carefully explicated, acts of disidentification are not characterized by a dialectical positioning. These acts move between the normative and non-normative through a complex web of interconnections. The act is never an argument of x counter y. Queer Capitalism buys itself political power, in part, through using the capitalist system for the fastest means of replicating itself widely with minimal effort.

The products of Queer Capitalism—Queer Technologies—operate under the aegis of a layered visuality. The design of Queer Capitalism can locate itself easily within the company of other consumables in varieties of shops, stores, outlets. The first reading—of the outmost surface—is one of Benjamin’s fascism. Yet, the tension of the design resides within closers readings—layers of depth—that render visible from closer inspection or the point when the product moves from the shelf to the consumer’s inquiring hand. Design as performative contradiction. Design as disidentification. Design is the fundamental praxis of Queer Capitalism. Design instigates the restructuring of buying, selling, and using.

          Buying, Selling

Monetary values can always operate as an exploit. The importance of this exploit concerns itself with how the exploit is directed / targeted. The monetary exchange should charge the exploiter of queerness and credit theSoftQueerBody.

In Queer Capitalism, buying and selling Queer Technologies must exploit capital.

Strategies: barcode manipulation, price based on cultural institute of dissemination, shop dropping, free give-aways at rallies, performative platforms, e-business.

Queer Capitalism should not be limited to these strategies but start from them and expand as necessary. No matter what tactic is employed, Queer Capitalism is the circulation of a discourse of biopolitics, not consumables. The consumables of Queer Capitalism are viruses that spread its discourse to the masses.


After dissemination, at the moment of full possibility, use becomes the unknown remainder in the equation of capitalist exchange. Use will ultimately be decided outside theSoftQueerBody but this use will still constitute theSoftQueerBody’s existence, functionality, materiality.

Queer Technologies complicate the relationship of content to functionality. Wendy Chun’s provocative statement that there can never be a purely technological solution to a political problem powerfully resonates here. This is not to reduce Chun’s claim only to the realm of the functional but to point toward the suggestion that technology might have to break in order to operate in certain political realms. Users of Queer Technologies must find primarily political ways—rather than technological—to use its products. The practice of use, therefore, becomes an interrogation into discourse. It is at the point of engagement with discourse when perhaps the technological and the political can realign—or the definition of the technological expands. Whether or not a technological material instantiation “works,” technologies of discourse flow at constant runtime. The technologies of the self mutate with these technologies of discourse. Use is always the use of knowledge, and knowledge is “made for cutting.” [1] To cut is to locate the interstice. This use of knowledge, fashioning theSoftQueerBody, cuts networks into technotopias and determines flows of life and death. Use situates biopower anywhere between the queer body and the product. In Queer Capitalism, if Queer Technologies’ products are Gay Bombs, the question becomes: how does the use of the Gay Bomb locate biopower at the site theSoftQueerBody?


ENgenderingGenderChangers are designed to humorously question the conflation of gender with hardware connectivity in larger spheres of IT culture. Offering a wider range of “solutions” to the male / female plug binary does not necessarily solve or better this conflation. Rather, it grossly exaggerates the problem in order to gain attention.

ENgenderingGenderChangers are mass produced and covertly distributed in Radioshacks, Best Buys, Circuit Cities, and other consumer electronics stores across the nation.


transCoder is a play on transgender and Lev Manovich’s fifth principle of new media – transcoding. Manovich writes, “to ‘transcode’ something is to translate it into another format.” Within computing and new media, Manovich identifies a “cultural layer” and a “computer layer” affecting each other: “we can say that they are being composited together. [. . .] Cultural categories and concepts are substituted, on the level of meaning and/or language, by new ones that derive from the computer’s ontology, epistemology, and pragmatics.”

transCoder is programmed to transcode between Manovich’s cultural layer and computer layer. Specifically, as queer programming anti-language, transCoder offers libraries rooted in theories of queerness as an attempt to severe ontological and epistemological ties to dominant technologies and interrupt the flow of circulation between heteronormative culture, coding, and visual interface.

Manufactured as a software development kit, transCoder offers experimentation and open-ended construction between queerness, technology, writing, language, theory, and meaning.

transCoder literalizes Galloway and Thacker’s statement, “Today, to write theory means writing code.” Code can morph to endless choices of queer non-essentialism: from Boolean statements transferring to a multitude of states beyond and between true or false, loops fluctuating wildly and unpredictably, if / then logic dissolving into if / if / if / if ad infinitum, small comments between pieces of code becoming digital manifestos for queer empowerment, the “logic” of queer discourse undermining control operators, variables stripped of heterosexist terminologies, to coding structures resembling passages from Haraway and Butler rather than C++ or Java.

Disingenuous Bar


                    What is the Disingenuous Bar?

Designed as a play / attack on Apple Computer’s Genius Bar, the Disingenuous Bar is a heterotopic space that offers non-technical support for “technical problems.” Dispelling the conflation of “genius” with technology in grids of capitalism, the un-geniuses of the Disingenuous Bar make no promises about computer “geniuses” offering “technological” solutions to ideological problems.

The Disingenuous Bar attempts to generate a performative platform of political inquiry through the examination, discussion, and distribution of Queer Technologies.

Disingenuous Bar appointments can be scheduled in advance or freely visited during times of operation.

                    Who works at the Disingenuous Bar?

The un-geniuses of Queer Technologies claim all knowledge is disingenuous. Knowledge can never assume to know, and therefore, all disseminators of knowledge must be un-geniuses. To know knowledge—always a possible unknown—means to know between something and nothing but never everything. The un-geniuses know, and yet this knowing is always unqualified for the receiver, or rather, it is a type of situated knowledge, grounded in a physical and historical specificity, that might equate as nonknowledge to receivers.

                    Why visit the Disingenuous Bar?

While must tech support bars assist with technical concerns, the Disingenuous Bar is designed for critical and political inquiry. Rather than the genius passing down an official knowledge of “how to,” un-geniuses think through knowledge with visitors. “What is the problem?” does not have to preface an occasion. The problem could be unknown and most often is. The queer un-genius feels knowledge and offers this as a strategy into the contestations of queer technical agency.

[1] Michel Foucault. Nietzsche, Genealogy, History. The Foucault Reader. (Pantheon Books: New York, 1984), 88.