May 25, 2024

Hypertext Reading Group ‘Flickering Monstrosity’, session 2, with visiting scholar Helen Kaplinsky

April 30th, 2019.
6:00 – 7:30pm.

(Session 2 of 3)

Over the course of this year Helen Kaplinsky invites the public, alongside faculty and students to three reading group sessions at the Exhibition Research Lab. Each will include an opportunity to read and discuss both contemporary and historical works of electronic literature.

The sessions aim to ask why are these hyperlinked and non-linear forms of storytelling returning into popular use? What does this format afford, particularly concerning the ownership of certain gendered and ‘othered’ bodies they often address as a subject?

For the second session we will look at works that evoke the figure of the monster, rage and trauma in relation to trans*, femme and queer experiences. Porpentine and Rook’s 2017 work NO WORLD DREAMERS, immerses the reader in the everyday life of a genderqueer ‘furry’ who has a seemingly ambivalent relationship to their chemically mediated body. Shu Lea Cheang’s BRANDON from 1998-99 is a recently conserved interactive journey that both reconstitutes and speculates upon an ‘all American’ road trip and is inspired by the tragic true story of Brandon Teena, a trans* teenager who was raped and murdered after being ‘outed’. Braithwaite-Shirley’s BLACKZILLA is “based around the new world being born when Blackzilla, a ‘Black, Trans Robot Archive’ descends to earth. I made the film as a way to reclaim the idea of being seen as something freakish and demonic as a Black and trans body.” Stryker’s and Koch-Rein’s texts further contextualise the figure of the monster in relation to trans* experience. Andrea Long Chu’s essay assists in framing how the expression of rage and trauma, in particular by femme and black bodies, is silenced, within contemporary American society.

We will read NO WORLD DREAMERS and BRANDON, and watch BLACKZILLA together during the session.

Porpentine Charity Heartscape and Rook, NO WORLD DREAMERS: STICKY ZEITGEIST, 2017.

Shu Lea Cheang, BRANDON, 1998-1999. Commissioned by Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Danielle Braithwaite Shirley


Background reading:

Yin Ho, “Shu Lea Cheang on Brandon,” Rhizhome, May 10, 2012,

Julie Muncy, “Porpentine’s new Twine game isn’t just a Twine game,” Wired, September 13 2017,

Jyni Ong, “Daniel Brathwaite-Shirley is an animation and sound artist archiving their existence as a Black trans person,” It’s Nice That, Monday 24 September 2018,

Anson Koch-Rein. “Monster” May 01 2014. In: Transgender studies quarterly.

Susan Stryker. “My Words to Victor Frankenstein above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage.” (1994) 2006. In: The Transgender Studies Reader, ed. Stryker Susan and Whittle Stephen, 244–56. New York: Routledge.

Andrea Long Chu. “Study in Blue: trauma, affect, event” (27.3), Nov 6 2017. In: Women and Performance.



Helen Kaplinsky is an Independent curator and writer undertaking a visiting scholar position within the Exhibition Research Lab (ERL). She is currently developing a programme for the Science Gallery London (SGL), part of Kings College London and Wellcome. An element of this research, concerning gender, technology and narration, will be explored in the context of ERL