Profile: Dr. Claudia Pederson

By Lou Baron, March 1, 2021
A profile of FLEFF curator, panelist, and featured author Dr. Claudia Pederson.

Cover of Dr. Pederson's book

Blog Posting by Lou Baron, Culture and Communication ‘23, minors in Spanish and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies.

When I asked Dr. Claudia Pederson how she first became involved with FLEFF, she laughed.

“Well, I was in the neighborhood!”

Although the limitations of a phone call meant that I couldn’t see Dr. Pederson, her warm and expressive voice still brought a smile to my face.

Pederson first learned of FLEFF as a Visual Studies PhD student at Cornell back in the early aughts.  

As she dropped off a grant application for her dissertation about video games as agents of social change, the student working the front desk encouraged her to connect with festival co-director Dr. Patricia Zimmermann.

Dr. Zimmermann responded, offering Pederson the opportunity to present her research at a FLEFF panel that year.

That research for her dissertation developed into Pederson’s new book, Gaming Utopia: Ludic Worlds in Art, Design, and Media.

She is emphatic that it is “...really part of that FLEFF legacy.” Fitting then, that the festival is holding a book launch event!

For Pederson, this is a full circle moment. We shared a laugh as she joked that someone could curate a bookshelf of projects that have emerged through debates and discussions at the festival each year. 

Nearly fifteen years after that fateful encounter, Dr. Pederson is more involved in FLEFF than ever. 

She is co-curating the new media exhibition Entangled Infiltrations with Dr. Dale Hudson. Pederson and Hudson will moderate a discussion with this year’s artists at the exhibition’s launch eventYou can also find Pederson in conversation with new media environmental artist Stephanie Rothenberg.

Pederson is thrilled that the virtual nature of FLEFF is allowing for new media to become more central to the festival than ever before. 

Discussing the opportunities of a virtual FLEFF led us to a stimulating conversation about the pandemic.

When I first asked Pederson how the COVID-19 era has affected her work, she took a thoughtful pause.

She told me a story of dropping off soup on a sick colleague’s porch back in March.

She spoke passionately about the current environmental crisis in Texas, condemning the for-profit motives of its leaders.

She emphasized her frustration with the clearly avoidable problems of the vaccine rollout in America.

However, for Pederson, it’s not all doom and gloom.

She admits to watching “a lot” of television throughout the pandemic, from series’ like Euphoria and I May Destroy You to the world’s latest Netflix obsession Bridgerton...

“It’s good eye candy or whatever." 

The pandemic also allowed her to binge-read a copious amount of feminist and queer science fiction. She's been able to dedicate more time to a book about the emergence of ecology in Latin American art. 

Pederson reflected on the ethics of realizing that we are not only in relationship with each other, but with our environments. 

While we humans certainly need to re-think these relationships, Pederson believes that it’s not too late to change.

“I think we are at that cusp.”