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.
exploring different ways to display my images hung using clear wishing wire form ceiling. I have made each image double sided by sticking 2 frames together so that they can be viewed from both sides incase the spin or the viewer walks around them. I am unsure if these hung next to my other installation piece will take attention away from it.
the most difficult part of my project was getting the lighting correct for the 2-way mirror to work. I experimented a lot with different rooms, backdrops, distances and strength of lighting. For the two-way mirror to work correctly it needs to be almost pitch black on one side and light on the other side. The lit side will be visible from the dark side allowing the person to see straight though the glass; but the viewing the glass from the lit side will only show the viewers reflection.
The first two images show that the light used is too powerful because my reflection can still be seen from the dark side.
The third image using a dimmer light with blinkers to control where the light projects with no spill works well, allowing no reflection to be seen from the dark side. However, the light side isn’t bright enough to show a reflection in the mirror.
The final images show the same dim blinker light but with the blinkers splayed out to allow the light to spill out slightly more. This effect allows almost no reflection to be seen from the dark side. The mirror side is also now bright enough to see your own reflection.
In order to get the viewer to walk around the piece to view themselves in the other side of the mirror I made sure there was a big enough gap between each frame to make the space easily accessible. In order to intrigue and invite the viewer into this space I have installed a tripod with an iPhone attached (similar to the one pictured in the photograph.) This is an attempt to make my intention of making the viewer feel more like voyeur more obvious. Having an iPhone on a tripod awaiting a response with the viewer seeing themselves in the mirror, recreates the scene behind of the girl taking the selfie- placing the viewer as the subject.
Frames for the images I want to exhibit made using cardboard and paper collage- the images I selected are all associated with technology (keyboards, scanners, cameras, iPhones, barcodes) which I cut into strips and collaged. I then laid these out in different ways in order to see which combination looked best.
Using inspiration from Yves Klein and Katie Ferris, I wanted to similarly create a print of the body including its more private parts. Using my thoughts for the project of technology allowing females to take control over their bodies and the typically male led projection of their bodies, I have attempted to show how technology (in this case, photocopier) has given everyone the power to print/scan their own bodies. Yves Klein’s blue body painting art is at the opposite spectrum of this- he used females as a sexual object performance in which the male gaze was at full flow; here i have diminished the male completely with the process being only female create and led.
Sketches from photographs taken using charcoal. Once I had finished each drawing I wanted to manipulate the image in order to alter its appearance similarly to a blurred reflection. I created this effect by smudging the charcoal in opposite directions using my hand or a cloth. The cloth took more of the charcoal off the page leaving a more faint image in comparison to the one smudged with just my hand. This effect helps to enhance the notion of the gaze being unclear and not totally visible.
Photography shots, mirror-selfie effect.
I set up a bedroom-like scene and asked my friend to pose as if she was taking a nude mirror-selfie. I then acted as my mirror, placing the camera where the mirror would’ve be to get an authentic effect.
I began painting from the photographs I took on a life-size scale using cold colours and free paint strokes.