I am an poet, novelist, digital artist, and lecturer with a PhD from the Cinema and Media Arts Program at York University (Toronto, Canada). My dissertation “The Flexible Face: Unifying the Protocols of Facial Recognition Technologies” was successfully defended March 2023 and studied the cinema of facial recognition technologies and their impacts on citizenship, mobility, and crisis, receiving the Governor General’s Gold Medal. During my graduate studies I was an Elia Scholar, a VISTA doctoral Scholar, and a 2020 Joseph-Armand Bombardier doctoral fellow. In September 2023, I am beginning a SSHRC post-doctoral position at the University of Toronto in the Faculty of Information recreating the Canadian history of artificial intelligence as a techno-national project.
My second novel, Soldiers, Hunters, Not Cowboys was published with Coach House Books in Spring 2023. You can order from Coach House Books, and from Bookshop.org, which helps to support your local bookstores. The novel grapples with the current moment of aggrieved and violent masculinity and its deep roots in shaping Canadian and American culture, in particular through the figure of John Wayne in the John Ford-directed movie The Searchers. A deeply influential movie in cinema history, the movie, despite being released almost 70 years ago, remains deeply relevant via the figure of Ethan Edwards, played by Wayne, and the lingering presence of toxic masculinity. The book was finished during the early weeks of the pandemic and heavily edited during the Ottawa Occupation, with both events leaching into the description of the events in the text, and the unnamed man at the centre of the book. Relationships with fathers, literal and cultural, are central where male role models echo down the decades.
Adam Nayman, writing for The Toronto Star, calls the novel “a complex meditation on how its story plays in different ways to different viewers — the mix of obsession, devotion and ambivalence that goes into understanding a problematic masterpiece.” Jean Marc Ah-Sen in Quill and Quire writes “Tucker writes about the power of film to creep into our collective consciousness with expressive accuracy, and his apocalyptic vision of the last cowboy warns that as archetypes intersect with a toxic ideology, it can only lead to a cretinous kind of irrelevance.”
Back cover copy:
Two days before a mysterious catastrophe befalls Toronto, before a man decides he must trek through violence and bloodshed to save his ex-girlfriend, the two of them are having a conversation about John Wayne. She’s telling him about The Searchers as a way to talk about their histories, their families, maybe even their relationship. But as he drinks more and more, the evening takes a difficult turn. Soon after, he wakes up to disaster and decides to be a hero.
Using the tropes of both the Western and the disaster movie, Soldiers, Hunters, Not Cowboys looks at the violence of our contemporary masculinity and its deep roots in shaping our culture.
My latest poetry collection is Catalogue d’oiseaux (Book*hug, April, 2021).
Catalogue d’oiseaux began as notes sent to poet Aaron Tucker’s long-distance partner. Not initially intended for publication, the writings moved, over time, into a long, lyrical, confessional love poem. Following the couple on travels across the globe—from Berlin to the Yukon, Porto to Toronto—this poem is expansive, moving sensually through small, intimate spaces and the larger world alike. Traced through art, architecture and the cultural life of varied cities, Catalogue d’oiseaux lives between geographies and chronologies as a kaleidoscopic gathering of the many fractals that make up a couple’s life. This is a stunning work; a celebration of the depth of adult love, and the elemental parts of life that make it so.
Thanks knife | fork | book for hosting a booklength Reading of Catalogue d’oiseaux in the summer of 2021.
If you missed the lunch, featuring Shazia Hafiz Ramji, Kirby, and Julia Polyck-O’Neill, and videos by Adam Seelig, Daniel Scott Tysdal, and Lia Tarachansky you can find it below:
Information about my novel Y can be found here and about the French translation, Oppenheimer, can be found here. Information about my prior poetry collection, Irresponsible Mediums can be found here. Please feel free to click around and if you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me at aarontucker82[at]gmail[dot]com.
My current research in the Cinema and Media Arts at York University involves studying the cinema of facial recognition technologies (FRT) alongside research creation that build and trains FRT using Tensorflow and Keras and employing OpenCV and Python, as well as a variety of publicly-available datasets like FERET, the ORL face database, and the recent IBM Faces in Diversity. There is an urgency around the need for public-facing and easily digestible explanations of FRT, and by extension guidelines for ESAs, as it is widely accepted that facial recognition software can, and very often does, contain biases in its code libraries and/or training databases. From this, my dissertation responds to the urgent need to build a stronger criticality of technologies of citizenship and mobility in order to best comprehend how such technologies are manipulated by the political and social conditions of crises. More specifically, my dissertation will examine the effects on the political contestation of citizenship and mobility by biopolitical vision technologies within crises, in particular facial recognition technologies (FRT), in order to build a critical toolkit that empowers resistance and interventions into those technologies.
You can find more information about my research in progress by listening to a recent talk and/or visiting my page detailing my conference presentations; you can learn more about my research creation projects by visiting the Creative Works page.
See the attached image for details about upcoming readings! If you are interested in having me read or perform from any of my projects please contact me at atucker[at]ryerson[dot]ca.
Y: Oppenheimer, Horseman of Los Alamos
J. Robert Oppenheimer: reluctant father of the atomic bomb, enthusiastic lover of books, devoted husband and philanderer. Engaging with the books he voraciously read, and especially the Bhagavad Gita, his moral compass, this lyrical novel takes us through his story, from his tumultuous youth to his marriage with a radical communist and the two secret, consuming affairs he carried on, all the while bringing us deep inside the mind of the man behind the Manhattan Project. With the stunning backdrop of Los Alamos, New Mexico, Oppenheimer’s spiritual home, and using progressively shorter chapters that shape into an inward spiral, Y brings us deep inside the passions and moral qualms of this man with pacifist, communist leanings as he created and tested the world’s first weapon of mass destruction and, in the process, changed the world we live in immeasurably. Order on the site!
I also recently did an interview with Stephen Hurley at VoicEd. You can listen below:
Fall 2017 was a busy season for me! I launched two books! The first, irresponsible mediums is based on The Chessbard, an app that translates chess games into poems. The text translates all of Marcel Duchamp’s chess games into poems and includes an introduction from former two-time U.S. Women’s Chess Champion Jennifer Shahade.
I also launched Virtual Weaponry: The Militarized Internet in Hollywood War Films. This book examines the convergent paths of the Internet and the American military, interweaving a history of the militarized Internet with analysis of a number of popular Hollywood movies in order to track how the introduction of the Internet into the war film has changed the genre, and how the movies often function as one part of the larger Military-Industrial- Media-Entertainment Network and the Total War Machine. The book catalogues and analyzes representations of a militarized Internet in popular Hollywood cinema, arguing that such illustrations of digitally networked technologies promotes an unhealthy transhumanism that weaponizes the relationships between the biological and technological aspects of that audience, while also hierarchically placing the “human” components at the top. Such filmmaking and movie-watching should be replaced with a critical posthumanism that challenges the relationships between the audience and their technologies, in addition to providing critical tools that can be applied to understanding and potentially resist modern warfare.