Refract: An Open Access Visual Studies Journal
- Author(s): Short, Hilary A.
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5070/R73151199
Bloodlines is a 228-inch-long installation made horizontally in Microsoft Excel and then rotated 90 degrees to create a dripping or oozing effect down the wall. It began as an inquiry into naming and the organizational hierarchy of the family tree. The tree serves as a symbol of nature, an inherited organizer used to display relational hierarchies of time and power, enacted subsequently through myriad metaphors. If the medium is the message, the tree is the medium that validates the family as a natural hierarchical entity positioned in linear time. The tree is, and has been, an omnipresent symbol for how we order and understand relationships—tying together “nature” and “order” in our collective understanding of the family. Contemporary genealogical practices carried out on websites like Ancestry.com uphold hetero status markers of the family vis-à-vis patrilineal threads while privileging records of white lineages. Documents, or “records,” serve as archival evidence in this online database—thus archival evidence reflects social ties and social hierarchies. In this way, using Ancestry.com to gather family data and Excel to hold said data is revealing what was always there—the tree as disassociated from, but disingenuously carrying forth, our belief that nature is unquestionable.