Out There/In You

Announcing the completion and digital publication of my project: Out There/In You.

5 min

You can view the zine here.

The zine genre emerged from the lack of “girl-friendly” spaces in media. Third-wave magazines created an outlet for girls, by girls. Zines shaped the popular feminist culture through subverting the traditional forms of media and knowledge production, especially those that function under a capitalist structure. Similar to feminism’s influence on conceptions of biology and the personal, the feminist structure of a zine can redefine and critically interact with the evidence and representation of ecoviolence. I chose the zine as the form in which to present and exchange evidence because of the unique activist space the genre occupies in history and its distinctly un-owned and un-authored feel.

Out There/In You is an exercise in creating the environmental justice knowledge exchange that Alaimo advises in Bodily Natures. The title of the text comes from the shocking call to awareness that Alaimo makes in her description of trans-corporeality: “Classifying human bodies as dangerous hazardous waste is a striking example of what many people already know but either cynically accept or try to deny—that all that scary stuff, supposedly out there, is already within.” The title reflects the underlying themes of toxicity and toxic bodies that Alaimo describes and that the zine reflects.

A spread on Trans-Corporeality found in Out There/In You

The pink hue I chose as the single accent color for the zine calls to mind the color of bodily tissue—the internal stuff of material humanity. Organs and tissues represent the human and personal, but also the biological and material. The color also contrasts with the green accents in a select few of the chosen photos in the zine, representing a distinction and a simultaneous interaction between flesh and nature. I separated the contents of the zine into discussions on trans-corporeality as a theory alongside a biological and chemical analysis of the toxicities of trans-corporeality. The subsections of scientific trans-corporeality represent points of biological interaction and exchange between the human and the lived environment: Inhale, absorb, ingest. The last section, entitled “tracing toxins,” aims at highlighting the connection between slow violence and the science of toxins.

A Spread on data from the EPA: In San Francisco, the average infant will exceed the EPA's lifetime exposure to toxic air pollutants in 19 days. In Los Angeles, the average infant will exceed the EPA's lifetime exposure to toxic pollutants in 12 days.

The photographs I chose for the zine are from the the Houston Center for Photography’s exhibit, Her Feet Planted Firmly on the Ground and The Dispossessed Series by Rhonda Zwillinger. The selections from the Houston Center for Photography feature the work of female photographers whose work interacts with ideas of environment and humanity. Zwillinger’s photographs feature humans whose relationship to their environment has affected their physical existence. These subjects are “dispossessed” because they have experienced the stagnant displacement of inhabiting an environment of ecological degradation and violence. My illustrations depict biology as it is viewed through a trans-corporeal lens. They present visual representations and metaphors for reciprocity, interaction, and toxicity. I chose to illustrate the anatomical representations myself, acknowledging the intertextuality between an illustration and the accompanying text.

The choice to compile these texts and images in a digital zine was informed by my understanding of the importance of knowledge exchange and meaningful evidence curation. Although the photographs and illustrations I included in the digital zine are not photographs of toxic waste sites, like those taken by Robert Hawks in Watershed, they are narrative elements that contribute to a trans-corporeal examination of ecology. The journey of discovery and uncovering clues, as described by Myerson, is echoed again and again on every spread of the zine as well as in the zine’s full form.