The female body, technology and performance : performing a feminist praxis.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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This research project examines the relationship between the female body and technology and analyses how contemporary artists are exploring the creative and political potential of technologies within their performance practice. By interrogating the culturally constructed gendering of technologies and theories of the female body through contemporary feminisms, this study shows how by working against existing patriarchal structures surrounding bodies and technology female artists are developing a technologised feminist praxis. The artists that I focus on throughout this thesis acknowledge, challenge and attempt to subvert dominant and conventional applications of the technologies, and therefore I read their work as feminist. This study analyses a range of types of technology and their applications in contemporary performance practice including: immersive technologies, digital and analogue technologies, the Internet, biotechnologies and cyborg technologised performance. Within each of these chapters the technologies are analysed in relation to the performing female body and I apply critical theory to enable me to read these works as “hybrid” and as illustrative of artists working within a “cyborg consciousness” to explore alternative political modes. This project is informed by the work of cultural critic and feminist theorist Donna J. Haraway whose “Cyborg Manifesto” (1985) altered the landscape of feminist discussions surrounding the technologised female body. Her utopian manifesto evokes the cyborg as a creature of social fiction and social reality and calls for a re-coding of bodies and approaches to political thinking. I argue in this thesis that the artists I am investigating attempt a re-coding of female bodies and of existing gender conventions surrounding bodies and technology to develop a new cyborg feminist praxis.
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