Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Seduction of a Cyborg
In this exclusive two-week screening, watch how Hershman Leeson’s video allegorizes a woman’s transformation into a cyborg.
Jul 19, 2023
Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Seduction of a Cyborg screened here July 19–August 2, 2023. The video is no longer available for streaming. Join us for the next Hyundai Card Video Views, screening on August 23.
How does one become a cyborg? What does it look and feel like to be part human and part computer? Today, these questions are no longer just for the realm of science fiction.
Since the 1960s, artist Lynn Hershman Leeson has been experimenting with new technologies and the potential of cyborgs, engaging with the urgent issues of gender, privacy, surveillance, and censorship. She considers the cyborg as a quintessential reflection of human beings in a modern technological society. Her prescient body of work—ranging from early wax-cast sculptures, video, and film to an artificial intelligence (AI) robot and an installation of a genetics lab—has received international acclaim for its trailblazing examination of technology-driven social issues. Hershman Leeson’s enduring interest in cyborgs has appeared in X-Ray Woman (1966), the Phantom Limb series (1985–87), and Teknolust (2002), among many other works. Most recently, her video Logic Paralyzes the Heart (2022) was included in last year’s Venice Biennale, culminating the evolution of cyborgs since the term’s emergence in 1960.
In Hershman Leeson’s short video Seduction of a Cyborg (1994), technology is illustrated as an infectious disease that destroys a woman’s immune system. A blind protagonist agrees to receive physical treatment to restore her eyesight through a computer’s electronic transmission. During the process, the protagonist is seduced into a computer-simulated world and gradually becomes addicted to its algorithm. Ultimately, her addiction leads to the manipulation and breakdown of her body.
Almost 30 years later, in a moment of rampant expansion in biotechnology and AI, this work is ever more resonant.
–Eana Kim, Marica and Jan Vilcek Fellow, Department of Painting and Sculpture
This interview was conducted on the occasion of the work’s recent installation in Signals: How Video Transformed the World, March 5–July 8, 2023.
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