Christina Corfield’s work deals with modes of popular cultural production and their methods of representing history, specifically focusing on the discourses raised by the role of technology in their spectatorship. Focusing on the rise of industrialization and popular culture in the 19th century, Corfield’s current research involves reconsidering the Pony Express as both communications technology and cultural artifact of the American popular imagination.
University of California Santa Cruz, PhD, Film and Digital Media
San Francisco Art Institute, Master of Fine Arts, New Genres
Glasgow School of Art, Bachelor of Fine Arts (hons), Painting
Christina Corfield is an artist and media scholar whose work pushes against the historical amnesia that often accompanies the fetishizing of new technologies. The projects she researches both present and complicate histories of media and technology to create space for critical thought about the technologies we rely on every day, and the systems that make those technologies necessary or attractive. Christina is especially interested in how new technologies are explained and represented in popular culture to make them understandable and desirable to the public through dramatization and iconography. Being critical and aware of this process is important because the stories and images associated with technologies ultimately construct the meaning and perceived value of those technologies for individuals and for society.
Older forms of technology can still powerfully transmit stories and can highlight how media shape social and cultural values and encourage questions about the role of technology in modern life. Reconstructing these older technologies – especially using non-digital materials like paper - can act as a form of “critical making,” creating opportunities to re-author and restructure the histories they have traditionally been associated with and symbolizing tactics of resistance to a culture more and more reliant on organizations that control the internet and the hardware (and software) necessary to access it.
Her work has shown at media festivals, in galleries, universities, and at international conferences. She has had a solo show at Johansson Projects in Oakland, CA and has been part of group shows at the Bluecoat, Liverpool UK, MOCA North Miami, the Exploratorium in San Francisco and Telematic Gallery also in San Francisco, among others. She has also taken part in several residencies, including at the Kala Institute, Berkeley, CA, and Western New York Book Arts Center in Buffalo. Her writing has been published online and in scholarly journals including articles about her creative practice and research in Media Fields Journal, the Journal of Early Visual Media and book chapters on peep boxes in Provenance and Early Cinema published by University of Indiana Press, and experimental historiography in the soon to be published The Aestheticization of History and the Butterfly Effect, released by Vernon Press.
Christina is currently working on a book proposal about the Pony Express -- a nineteenth century networked messaging system. This project explores the role of the Pony Expresses in transmitting information over long distances at a time of national growth and how it’s image in popular culture, through films, dime novels, advertising, and historical and museum displays, became more powerful as a messenger than the original, historical Pony Express had ever been. Essentially, this is a project that asks us to think about media as complex phenomena, the meanings of which are determined over time and entangled within more complex media ecologies.
She is also working on new research that focuses on ephemeral paper media from the past and the role of cardboard in our post-digital society.