Liliana Conlisk Gallegos ACM SIGGRAPH Member Profile

Member Profile: Liliana Conlisk Gallegos

1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?

From the age of 3, I found myself grappling with oversimplified thinking, impositions, and cultural narrow-mindedness.My innate critical perspective often led me to openly question the absurdities around me, this frequently resulted in conflicts with offended adults who forgot that I was just a child. These clashes occurred both within and outside the confines of school, shaping a journey through life that was both challenging and captivating. As time passed, I gradually realized that my life-long battles are against the intricate multidimensional layers of coloniality and its omnipresent, everyday impositions.

2. What was your first job?

If we are considering the notion of a “job” beyond its conventional capitalist definition, my earliest role was to befriend the “unruliest” child in class who was also often ostracized by teachers. These children were unfairly separated from peers, which I thought to be cruel. Therefore, I took it upon myself—almost as a duty—to counteract the issues created by teachers by becoming their trusted friend and supporter. This experience motivated me to become a peer counselor for “at-risk” youth, followed by my first paid job as an after-school peer high school tutor. These experiences, both informal and formal, shaped my desire for seeking a vocation rather than a job.

3. Where did you complete your formal education?

I have a B.A. in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley, an M.A. in Border Literature and Culture from SDSU, and a Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from UC Santa Barbara. My academic journey includes independent studies and auditing courses in English, Chicano studies, film and media studies, computer science, ethnomusicology, media arts and technology, and several languages. This DIY informal or transdisciplinary take on my formal education contributed to shaping my perspectives on new media art production and curation. I also studied abroad at Estacio de Sá in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, UNAM in Mexico City, Universidad de Alcalá de Henares in Madrid, Spain, and Seoul National University in South Korea.

4. How did you first get involved with ACM SIGGRAPH?

Kathy Rae Huffman is the individual responsible for my presence here. She embodies an extraordinary force of power, genius, and artistry, and stands as one of my most profound inspirations. Kathy didn’t merely open doors for me; she shattered them wide open. Throughout her life and work, she has dedicated herself to prying doors open for numerous individuals, particularly women. I am profoundly grateful for her visionary thinking, her steadfast support, and her role as a true ally to countless emerging artists in our community. I enthusiastically hope that someday soon, she receives the recognition she undeniably deserves from us here at ACM SIGGRAPH and beyond.

5. What is your favorite memory of a SIGGRAPH conference?

One of my most cherished memories from a SIGGRAPH conference is from the 2023 50th Anniversary event. It was a pivotal and I dare to say historic moment for the decolonial option in new media art. First, my VR world or rasquache artisanal immersive mural, The Coyolxauhqui Imperative 2020, was included in the SIGGRAPH Autodesk time tunnel, spanning 50 years of computer graphics history. Additionally, the Digital Arts Community (DAC) presented an exhibition I curated titled The Future Past v. Coloniality: Decolonial Media Art Beyond 530 Years, which featured works by international BIPOC new media artists. This exhibition made a significant impact in Europe, where a very similarly titled exhibition recently debuted in France curated by one of the artists invited to the first workshop I gave with Kathy Rae Huffman on decolonizing new media art production and curation for DAC ACM SIGGRAPH in 2021.

However, my fondest memory was the opportunity to meet the artists featured in our digital exhibition during a dedicated panel session. This experience provided us with a valuable chance to network, forge new friendships while strengthen existing ones, construct new artistic endeavors, and foster lasting connections within the anticolonial BIPOC ACM SIGGRAPH artistic community.

6. Describe a project that you would like to share with the ACM SIGGRAPH community.

Currently I am curating and organizing Monuments to the Pluriverse, a rasquache artisanal VR worlds (immersive muralism) exhibition slated to open at CSUSB in November 2024 as part of the programming for the Digital Capture: Southern California and the Origins of the Pixel-Based Image World exhibition which will be held at UC Riverside ARTS for the Getty Pacific Standard Time Art x Science x L.A. initiative programming. This is part of the work that I do for the ACM SIGGRAPH DAC as community programming liaison and as Co-director of the CSUSB Woman of Color in Academia Institute.
This programming aims to address various issues in Inland Empire communities by leveraging XR technologies and art to promote STEAM-based knowledge production. Launched in fall 2023, this initiative has multiple objectives, including:

1. Training faculty in the artistic use of XR technologies for pedagogical use.

2. Using XR technologies for research and data analysis.

3. Supporting the retention and promotion of BIPOC untenured faculty through expanded knowledge production formats.

4. Integrating artistic VR and XR across disciplines that rarely come together.

5. Providing a STEAM to STEM gateway for first-generation and BIPOC (mainly Latina) students.

6. Curating local open-source 3D object and other related media repositories.

7. Virtually immersing faculty and other community leaders in the harsh realities and local issues that are usually otherwise avoided.

8. Introducing artisanal VR production to faculty, staff, students, and community.

9. Using VR for culturally and context specific decolonization of data collection that is also therapeutic.

10. Utilizing BIPOC formats for knowledge production, propagation, and preservation through XR technologies.

Additionally, a scholarly article focusing on the Monuments to the Pluriverse (2024) exhibition and the autoethnographic methodology underpinning this approach has been invited for presentation at the 2024 ISEA conference. DAC will host a SPARKS session during the summer featuring selected artists and Digital Capture curators, and a digital rendition of the exhibition will be showcased at the 2024 ACM SIGGRAPH conference in Denver.
I welcome support from anyone at SIGGRAPH interested in sponsoring any aspect of this project. Please feel free to reach out.

7. If you could have dinner with one living or non-living person, who would it be and why?

I would love the opportunity to sit down and speak with my Indigenous ancestors particularly those who belonged and migrated across the Californias since time immemorial. I would love the opportunity to have dinner with my great-grandmother, Aurora López Pantoja, a tough feminist who fearlessly stood her ground, made huge sacrifices, and engaged in extraordinary feats unusual for a woman at the time. Another would be my great grandfather, José López Uribe, who was orphaned at the age of 9 and taken in by General Pancho Villa’s revolutionary army, becoming a soldier at that young age. I believe I inherited a deep-seated aversion to the injustices of colonialism and my outspokenness from them. My nickname, “Machete,” reflects this legacy! Having a conversation with them would undoubtedly be enlightening and empowering. I deeply love them and sense their fiery spirit coursing through my veins.

8. What is something most people don’t know about you?

People often underestimate me because I refuse to conform to cultural cues and code-switching imposed by supremacist thinking in coloniality. They assume that because I don’t conform, I’m incapable of doing so– little do they know! This isn’t about playing the victim; it is a recurring pattern that I have observed throughout my life and which I have written about as a scholar. On numerous occasions, I’ve been told I don’t “look like” a professor. Some colleagues police and disrespect me with constant microaggressions. Many are simply unaware of my life experiences and accomplishments because, in their limited perception, it’s impossible for them to accept that someone like me can have any valuable accomplishments.

9. From which single individual have you learned the most in your life? What did they teach you?

My mother taught me about love for Creator, the interconnectedness of all, and the beauty of learning. Learning, not as a commodity, but as a quotidian playful act. My father taught me the value of humility, dedication, and hard work. Both of my parents taught me kindness and to never deny anyone’s request for help if I can do it. Nobody makes it in this life without support.

10. Is there someone in particular who has influenced your decision to work with ACM SIGGRAPH?

It is disheartening to witness a lack of understanding and resistance to acknowledging the importance of diversity, akin to seeing horse blinders on some individuals. Despite the wealth of data available, there’s still a gap in comprehension about what diversity truly entails. At ACM SIGGRAPH I have also witnessed individuals making genuine efforts to drive essential institutional changes, such as the introduction of the Underrepresented Communities Travel Grant for SIGGRAPH 2024. Recognizing the need for more support for these initiatives, I am here to contribute in any way I can. It’s as simple as that.

11. What can you point to in your career as your proudest moment?

I had one of the roughest times in my career while I was untenured, and it was a cohort of Queer, first generation, BIPOC students who held me up. I held several undergraduate community-centered courses with the goal of promoting the importance of decolonizing the educational journey by supporting a community of learning and teaching. This cohort of students formed, and I still mentor them now that they are lecturing, in PhD programs, and about to be university professors.

They were there for me when I needed them, I guess as much as I have been for them when they needed me. You never expect that to happen. Students come and go; teaching is a calling that does not guarantee appreciation. The proudest moments in my career for me have been to learn that my mentees are rocking the boat in other spaces, using art centered pedagogies masterfully, inspiring others to learn of our past and present beyond the colonial histories we receive in school. Just having the opportunity to see them come into their own selves is an ongoing true honor and humbling experience that I cherish with all my heart.