Ima Put a Computational Hex on You
Shaka McGlotten

Ima Put a Computational Hex on You is an experiment with data doppelgängers. Drawing on literary histories of the doppelgänger and emphasizing the ambivalent dis/enchantments of the algorithmic ordinary, I consider versions of ourselves and others that come to life in ‘data’ form, animated by usually invisible forces. Considering recent developments in AI, including data twins and ChatGPT, I emphasize some of the witchy, weird, and queer entanglements of identities, bodies, and the many other intra-actants that help comprise data doubles–the surveilling gazes of corporations and states, as well as the diverse affects induced by discussions with chatbots. How might the notion of the computational hex help us understand something about algorithmic sorting histories or the anxieties and pleasures attendant to digital rabbitholes?

Shaka McGlotten is Professor of Media Studies and Anthropology at Purchase College-SUNY, where they also serve as Chair of the Gender Studies program. An anthropologist and artist, their work stages encounters between black study, queer theory, media, and art. They have written and lectured widely on networked intimacies and messy computational entanglements as they interface with queer of color lifeworlds. They are the author of Dragging: Or, in the Drag of a Queer Life (Routledge, 2021) and Virtual Intimacies: Media, Affect, and Queer Sociality (SUNY, 2013). They are also the co-editor of two edited collections, Black Genders and Sexualities (with Dana-ain Davis, Palgrave, 2012) and Zombies and Sexuality (with Steve Jones, McFarland, 2014). Their work has been supported by Data & Society, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Akademie Schloss Solitude, and The Andy Warhol Foundation.