Two challenging fields to make it in as a gender minority? Tech and the arts. Tech culture is infamously toxic towards women, as shown by the brave women who spoke up about their working conditions as #MeToo gained momentum. Womens’ artwork is also consistently undervalued in the art world and underrepresented in major institutions. Despite these barriers, there are many female artists incorporating technology to create interesting and innovative work.
Here are five of them:
Cristina Molina is a video artist whose work often centers around female protagonists. Per her description, “Crystal Video is an interactive audio-visual installation that transmits sounds directly into participants heads. The video is shown in crystalline shapes hanging from the ceiling. However, the audio can only be heard when audience members bite down on a lollipop. The sound travels from the crystal base on the lollipop to the jaw and into the ear. The effect makes the transmission private, as if the figure in the video, inspired by Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse, is telepathically communicating.
More projects and information can be found on the artist’s website.
Emily Hermant is a sculptor and fiber artist whose work often explores women’s labor. Her project Lies, lies, lies… “explored acts of deception in communication,” and featured embroidered lies mounted on the walls, a lie booth, and an interactive website. The website allowed people to input their own lies and edit other people’s lies, creating a “Virtual community of lies and liars.”
One of her other bodies of work Hesitations illustrated vocal pauses such as “um” from recordings of intimate conversations, thus going from human to data to human again.
Aarati Akkapeddi is a “transdisciplinary artist and creative programmer,” who explores the relationship between data and identities and histories. Part of her work, You Are What You Search, is a “poetic visualizer” tool that allows users to view and meditate on their search histories, which are usually difficult to decipher after downloading. Another aspect of YAWYS is chrome extension apps called Autosurfers that breaks filter bubbles by randomly searching, thus introducing users to new things and obscuring users’ search history.
You can download the apps and learn about more of Aarati’s work here.
AnnieLaurie Erickson is a lens-based artist whose work often centers on making the invisible visible. Her project Data Shadows examines “the physical apparatus of the Internet and digital surveillance,” through photographs and interactive media. The interactive component uses eye-tracking technology to illuminate small sections of a photograph visible on a screen as the viewer’s eye moves around. The path of their gaze is projected onto a wall behind the viewer for onlookers to see.
Documentation of this series and others are on AnnieLaurie’s website.
Ayoka Chenzira is a filmmaker and pioneer in Black independent cinema. She created the interactive film HERadventure with her daughter HaJ, about an extraterrestrial superhero named Her. During the movie, viewers are able to join Her in her battle against Dark Forces, aiming to empower women and girls through gameplay.
Though contemporary art is often mocked for its seemingly limitless definition (“How is that art?” “A five-year-old could do that!” etc) these women and many more are using that limitlessness to their advantage by forging into new territory. As Georgia O’Keeffe said, “To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.”