Desire Lines
Making a Network of Relations Visible
Where are the margins of the local? What are the ethics of data/representation
Constance Crompton, Deanna Fong, Tomasz Neugebauer, and Ryan Rice
Friday, August 6, 2021 @ 2 – 3:30 pm


Support documents:
Network diagrams:

The Desire Lines series began with the proposition that we could see communities formed around print production in Toronto, between 1978 and 1988, by drawing network visualizations from the metadata describing magazine issues. This final panel in the series brings together different perspectives on the ethics of working with collective mapping practices and metadata to make visible relationships in archives and periodicals, which may or may not resonate in human hearts. What are the ethics of working with metadata? Do these algorithmically-derived relationships resonate in human hearts? How do we address the absences in these networks?

For Making a Network of Relations Visible, we bring together four people whose work is intimately tied to the quantitative (metadata analysis) and qualitative (oral histories) methodologies we have explored over the course of this project. Tomasz Neugebauer, a librarian from Concordia University with a particular interest in data visualization, has been central in the creation of the network maps that are at the core of this project. Constance Crompton, Canadian Research Chair in Digital Humanities at University of Ottawa researches the ethical and methodological potential for code to represent queer cultural histories. Deanna Fong, a postdoctoral fellow at Concordia University and member of the SpokenWeb, works at the intersection of oral histories and social metadata, with a particular interest in the ethics of listening for gender relations in recordings of cultural events. Ryan Rice, curator and professor at OCAD University, has been involved in ongoing work tracing absences and presences in contemporary Onkwehón:we visual art exhibition and publishing histories, and he brings to this series a vital reminder of different research modes for exploring the textures of relations in artistic communities of Tkaronto/Toronto.

This panel takes inspiration from the critical data work of Safiya Umoja Nobel, Ruha Benjamin, Jennifer Wemigwans, and Catherine d’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein to think through what we’ve learned along the way from our speakers and our listening audiences. Can these networks be perceived as hopeful social movements, or are they the product of the computational algorithms of oppression? Is listening with care to oral histories a way to get closer to respectful engagement with the humans behind the data? And why the absences? The absences, what you cannot see, are just as important as what is visible to you in the data.

Constance Crompton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Ottawa and Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities. She directs the University of Ottawa’s Labo de données en sciences humaines/The Humanities Data Lab and co-directs the Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada project. She is part of the Linked Infrastructure for Networked Cultural Scholarship and Implementing New Knowledge Environments Partnership research teams. She serves as VP English of the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities / Société canadienne des humanités numériques and an associate director of the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (uVictoria), North America’s largest digital humanities training institute. She lives and works on unceded Algonquin territory.

Deanna Fong is a SSHRC-funded Postdoctoral Fellow at Concordia University where her research project, “Towards an Ethics of Listening in Literary Study” intersects the fields of Oral History and Literature through an investigation of interviewing and listening practices. She co-directs the audio/multimedia archives of Fred Wah, for which she was recently awarded a SSHRC IDG grant to pursue research on social metadata. Her critical work appears in the recent publications Canlit Across Media (MQUP, 2019) and Pictura: Essays on the Works of Roy Kiyooka (Guernica Editions, 2020). With Karis Shearer, she co-edited Wanting Everything: The Collected Works of Gladys Hindmarch (Talonbooks, 2020).

Tomasz Neugebauer is the Digital Projects & Systems Development Librarian at Concordia University, where he participates in the design, development, and implementation of various research and library applications. His current research interests include information visualization, linked open data, metadata interoperability, open-source software systems used for digital curation, preservation, and the building of digital repository infrastructure. Tomasz has developed software for the visualization of bibliographic metadata, DNA data, and a number of software plugins to the EPrints digital repository platform. In 2013, he helped to launch the e-Artexte open access digital repository. He has been collaborating with the SpokenWeb research project since 2016. Tomasz is the editor of the PhotographyMedia, containing a blog and a selection of his data visualization and photography.

Ryan Rice, Kanien’kehá:ka of Kahnawake, is a curator, Associate Professor, and the Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Science at OCAD University, Toronto. His institutional and independent curatorial career spans 30 years in community, museums, artist run centres, and galleries. Rice’s writing on contemporary Onkwehón:we art has been published in numerous periodicals and exhibition catalogues, and he has lectured widely. He is currently working on three solo exhibitions including Jordan Bennett: Souvenir for Onsite Gallery and Pageant: Natalie King for Centre [3], while his touring exhibition Bait: Couzyn van Heuvelen recently ended in Summer 2021. Rice was recently appointed Curator, Indigenous Art at Onsite Gallery (OCAD) and is currently developing two public art projects as the Indigenous Public Art Curator with Waterfront Toronto.


Desire Lines: the series
The trajectory of arts magazine publishing in Toronto from the 1970s onward has always been a space criss-crossed by lines of desire. This speaker series takes an algorithmically produced network diagram of publishing metadata as a jumping off point for story-telling around personal memories.

This series is organized by Felicity Tayler, Interim Head, Research Support (Arts and Special Collections) at the University of Ottawa Library and Michael Maranda, assistant curator. New generation respondents are curated by Faith Paré, made possible by an RA-ship from the SpokenWeb partnership. The background to the series comes out of a metadata analysis of three magazines from the seventies and eighties, Fuse, Border/Lines, and Fireweed, that Felicity put together with Tomasz Neugebauer of Concordia University.

We would like to offer thanks to the participants who are generously contributing to this program, which is deeply informed by the legacies of their practices. We would also like to thank our partners Artexte and SpokenWeb.


See also

Access to Print

Access to Print

30 Apr 2021
Setting a Tone

Setting a Tone

26 Mar 2021
A Lit Fuse: Klive Walker

A Lit Fuse: Klive Walker

Desirelines Response
26 Feb 2021
Riddim an’ Resistance

Riddim an’ Resistance

26 Feb 2021
Desire Lines

Desire Lines

Oral history project
Winter 2021




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