Through my investigation into voyeurism and feminism alongside the use of modern day technology, I have questioned whether the historical objectification of women by men has become less of a problem as a result of this. Within our social media world, the nude-selfie has become increasingly popular due to celebrity exposure and influence. I have examined whether technology and media has given females the power to diminish a once male-led industry by portraying themselves how they wish on social media, allowing males to gaze. Does this eradicate the male-gaze, (a theory founded and explored by feminist film critic Laura Mulvey) or does it encourage?
I have created an installation consisting of 2 large free standing frames holding a nude-selfie photograph and the other, a (2-way) mirror. Alongside these are images of scanned female body parts surrounded by collaged frames of technology imagery. The free standing frames allow the viewer to interact with the installation by walking around the work and viewing themselves in the mirror from both sides. The relationship between the mirror, the poster and the viewer is the focal point of my work; it allows the viewer to focus on their reflection and the image behind the window simultaneously, placing the viewer as voyeur and the subject being gazed at.
My progression of work began with Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’ as I focused on comparing traditional nude paintings to modern day nudes. In ‘Ways of Seeing,’ Berger addresses how the portrayal of women’s body in the arts has changed since the Renaissance. Today, ‘nude-selfies’ are commonly used by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian but other similar models before this such as Marilyn Monroe, often posed naked for magazines and posters. ‘Nude-selfies’ posted on the subjects own social media accounts need no (male) photographer and are now familiar images. Printing the nude-selfie life-size and presenting it in a public art studio makes it becomes intimate and personal, placing discomfort upon the viewer as they become a ‘peeping-toms,’ similarly to how Lynch portrays voyeurism through character Jeffrey in ‘Blue Velvet.’
By placing the mirror in front of the nude-selfie, I have created a physical metaphor taken from Berger: Men look at women, while women watch themselves being looked at. These topics also touch on male dominance which I address through replacing the male with technology. In works such as ‘Anthropometries,’ Klein exposes the female body as subjects in his performance as extremely sexualized and male-dominated. The content of my piece and its process challenge this through involving no interference from outsiders.
More current art that addresses feminism shows Soda using social media as a platform for her art posts of selfies and videos, similarly to celebrities. She displays her life as art online, altering the norm of digital life and stereotypes. My work also uses technology as topic, enquiring into the development art has taken from traditional nude paintings into the social media world. Investigating into women’s use of technology and the internet explores the effect this has on male-dominance in relation to women being subject to the male-gaze.