5/10/21 – Arianna Gass, “Skin and Surface: Race Beyond Representation”

Please join the Theater and Performance Studies Workshop for

Arianna Gass

PhD Candidate,  Theater and Performance Studies, English| University of Chicago

Who will Present:

“Skin and Surface: Race Beyond Representation”

Respondent: Kaelan Doyle-Myerscough, Ph.D. Student, Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago

Monday, May 10th,

4:00 – 5:30 PM CT

Zoom link here. Pre-circulated paper available HERE .

We are committed to making our workshop fully accessible to persons with disabilities. Please direct any questions or concerns to the workshop coordinators, Arianna Gass (ariannagass@uchicago.edu) and Catrin Dowd (catrindowd@uchicago.edu).

ABSTRACT:The second chapter of my dissertation, titled “Skin and Surface: Race Beyond Representation” contextualizes and complicates the software ontology that proposes that “skin,” or the visible surface of a game object, is endlessly interchangeable. I place the prototypical whiteness of highly racialized and gendered android characters in Detroit: Become Human (Quantic Dream, 2018) in conversation with Frantz Fanon’s writing on “epidermalization,” pointing to the continuities between software ontologies that render skin interchangeable and normative discourses around “diverse representation” in games. Though this ontological interchangeability allows players and designers to create representations of racialized and gendered human bodies, my line of inquiry focuses on how “skin” became the de facto site of investment for these representations in video games. This chapter concludes with an analysis of Sunset (Tale of Tales, 2015), a game that subtly critiques the ontological interchangeability of skin by bucking the generic conventions of adventure games, forcing players to encounter the fully rendered and animated body of the protagonist Angela simultaneously in first and third person.

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