Feminist Dialogue on Technology (FemTechNet) Final Project
So, I needed to make a digital manifestation of my final project for FemTechNet, and just to warn you, this is about to get artsy.
For my project, I chose to use the keyword ‘Transformation’ as well as the keyword ‘Bodies’. It was inspired both by the article about a site that posted nudes of women, not even nudes that women had sent to their lovers, but nudes that were downloaded off of hacked computers (here); and my own keyword video about digital corruption and compression artifacts.
My first plan was to take naked photos of myself, burn them to cds, break the cds into pieces that were unreadable, and make art out of it. Unfortunately, even if you save the photos to your own computer, if it is connected to the internet there is always a chance someone may find it. Even if it is not connected to the internet, deleting a file is never truly ‘deleting’ it on a computer, there are often ways to recover it. I found this an interesting concept, especially after I took film photography last year. In film, if you were to cut up your negatives, there would be no possible way to retrieve them. Also, if you want to shrink a photo, the original itself does not change, whereas if you accidentally save over a file as a smaller file, it chooses which parts to distort the most, although you usually can’t tell with the human eye unless you try to expand it again.
Since taking nude photos of myself was a stupid idea due to the permanence of the data of a digital photo, I burned nude photos from a modeling site called Suicide Girls to cds. I chose Suicide Girls because it is (supposedly) an empowering site, an ‘adult lifestyle brand that redefines beauty with our unique pin up girls and active, smart online community.’ I found this an interesting experience because unlike when we work with physical media and make collages, burning the files felt strange in that it was adding files/code to a disc, code that would still need to be read by a program on the other end, that could not just be viewed on its on like a photo could. I then broke the cds into pieces, making many rainbow fragments. In this way I transformed a viewable image (with the right programs) into something completely useless and inaccessible. Unlike with the digital data on the internet, this was unreachable forever. I transformed code to a physical medium, then made that medium inaccessible. I thought this was an interesting concept because women’s bodies are so easily controlled by shaming their nudity, so that even if an actress is accidentally photographed with a nipple slipping out, it goes viral. Technology is now used to spread wide-spread shame, a way to control women even more efficiently. The breaking of cds was meant to signify reclaiming power, (although in reality the photos still exist online and affect the females in the photos).
The second part of my project related to compression artifacts. I placed a mirror inside a frame, but glued the bits of cd to the surface of the mirror. In this way the cd was somewhat reflective, but not truly able to give an accurate reflection like a mirror does. I was hoping to represent the distortion of compression artifacts in real life.
One of my favorite parts about this writeup is the fact that I can’t truly express what the object is like through images, for mirrors and rainbows are so dependent on the observer. All I can show is one particular moment photographed from one particular angle. I found the parallel between feminism’s focus on context and experience, and the fact that my project needs to be experienced, not just seen, to be very interesting indeed.