[NetBehaviour] The Performative Bodies of Lynn Hershman Leeson: A Conversation

netbehaviour netbehaviour at furtherfield.org
Mon Jun 10 15:27:12 CEST 2013

The Performative Bodies of Lynn Hershman Leeson: A Conversation

Laura Gemini, Researcher, University of Urbino Carlo Bo
Federica Timeto, Ph.D., University of Urbino Carlo Bo


Observing the relationship between feminism and new media from a 
sociological perspective means taking the process of co-determination, 
which relates these two social phenomena, into consideration. While the 
first belongs to the order of the political and the cultural, the second 
refers both to the technological apparatuses of society intended as the 
system of communication, and to the media environment that also 
characterizes the collective imaginary [1], with the production and 
diffusion of its symbolic representations. [2] We consider feminism as a 
specific form of observation, a way of seeing the world and its social 
relations that finds an effective means of communication in the logic 
and languages of new media. Generally speaking, in the context of world 
society [3], as the society that encompasses all possible 
communications, the relationships between partial social systems which 
differentiate among themselves in functional terms needs to be taken  
into account. In what follows, we relate the system of media with the 
social system of the arts, within which our conversation with Lynn 
Hershman – one of the most renowned feminist artists working with new 
media today – takes place. Drawing on these premises, we consider the 
system of the arts as a place to observe society [4], an environment for 
reflexivity that articulates its themes in new forms and languages 
through continuous experimentation. [5]  Lynn Hershman’s work is 
exemplary as it foregrounds two correlations in particular, that between 
gender and technology on the one hand, which share a processual and 
unfinished openness [6], and that between art and technology on the 
other, in which media affordances always make reality  possible in other 
ways, disclosing the virtual component of the world. [7] Moreover, our 
hypothesis also draws on the epistemological homology we retrace between 
the performative framework and performance as artistic genre. On a 
theoretical level, the employment of a post-representational idiom that 
performatively redefines both our cognitive and bodily experience, 
relates to the practice of performance as a communicative medium based 
on the embodied relationships among its participants. [8]


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