Women in digital art

By Carla Rapoport August 7, 2018

In the history of art, women have not had an easy time. Traditionally, they have been portrayed as seen through the male gaze, primarily as saints, prostitutes or lovers. Worse, the number of celebrated women artists over the centuries can only be counted in the dozens. As a digital art prize, we are dedicated to promoting contemporary women artists working with technology and are pleased that 40% of our winners to date have been women.

This year, 30% of our longlist are women, which isn’t as high as we’d like. We’re coming up with a few strategies to boost that number going forward. First off, I’m delighted to be highlighting some of the talented women on the 2018 longlist here:

Nye Thompson – UK

Picture credit: Nick Hynan courtesy of BOM

Nye is a London-based artist with degrees from Goldsmiths and the Cass School of Art. Her 2018 Lumen longlisted work is an interactive piece called ‘Backdoored’, which is an exploration and a visual document of today’s global surveillance society. At the core of the project is a collection of thousands of found images – screenshots captured through search engines from vulnerable security cameras around the world. These images form a global mapping of contemporary anxieties, and a visual testament to our growing lack of privacy online.

“Obviously as a woman in digital art I face the same general issues as women throughout the art world, and also the challenges of working in an industry that takes no account of the dynamics and demands of parenthood. No surprises there. But one thing I’ve realised is that I’ve designed my software systems in such a way that they can support me in my work, acting as virtual art assistants and content generators. In other words, I’ve outsourced part of my art labour to my bots.”

“I’m wary of the idea of gender-stereotypical behaviours,” she continues,  “and the idea that I work in certain ways because I’m a woman. Having said that, it has been suggested that my intimate scrutiny of the data I collect reflects a more feminine/feminist approach to data. For example, I manually reviewed and tagged all the thousands of images in the ‘Backdoored’ archive. I wanted to really understand my data set and the narratives, trends and insights that could be gleaned from closely engaging with those images – rather than just imposing some rigid conceptual framework. I think of it as data intimacy as opposed to data authoritarianism.”

Anna Ridler – UK

Anna Ridler is an artist and researcher whose practice brings together technology, literature and drawing to create both art and critical writing. She was also a finalist for her work in the 2017 Lumen awards in the AR/VR category and has exhibited at a number of Lumen shows. This year, she’s been longlisted for ‘Fall of the House of Usher 1’ – an artificial intelligence work.

She says: “I am very interested in working with abstract collections of information or data, particularly self-generated data sets, to create new and unusual narratives in a variety of mediums, and how new technologies, such as augmented reality, virtual reality and machine learning, can be used to translate them clearly to an audience. I work heavily with technology at both the front and back end of projects (what is exhibited, as well as the research that goes into the piece); however, my intention is to make work that is not about technology for its own sake, but that rather uses these technologies as a tool to talk about other things – memory, love, decay – or to augment or change the story in a way in that otherwise would not happen.”

Peiqi Su – USA

Peiqi Su is a new media artist and interaction designer who was longlisted for the interactive work, ‘Butterfly Effect’. She is a co-founder of Think Create, an interactive installation design and engineering studio based in NYC, and she teaches prototyping for graduate students at New York University. Her earlier artwork, ‘The Penis Wall’, has been exhibited in art and tech venues and featured in multiple international publications including The Huffington Post, New York Magazine and VICE.  ‘The Penis Wall’ is a kinetic sculpture consisting of 81 3D-printed erectable penises that were designed to visualise fluctuations in the stock market. Like ‘Butterfly Effect’, it was also developed to have the ability to respond to a viewer’s movement and dance to a piece of music.

‘The Penis Wall’ has been praised for for its boldness and the cultural implications of borrowing the form of a male sex organ and linking that to the cravings in business world. It’s a good example of how women are helping to switch the primary gaze of art from the male to female perspective. Like many artists in the field of digital art, Peiqi often creates her work in partnership with another artist, partnering with Deqing Sun, a New York-based new media artist, creative technologist and adjunct professor at New York University, on ‘Butterfly Effect’.

TeYosh – NL

TeYosh is the name of a duo of multidisciplinary art directors making cutting-edge contemporary digital art. It is a collaboration between Sofija Stanković (b.1990) and Teodora Stojković (b.1989), both graduates of the design masters programme of Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. Originally from Serbia, the two artists currently live and work in Amsterdam.

TeYosh is interested in defining and analysing modern-day social phenomena. Their artistic practice is devoted to exploring the relationship between human and technology. They explore how everyday use of digital technology has “rewired” our brains, how it influences our habits, thoughts and perception of the world.

Ward Janssen, curator at MOTI design museum in Amsterdam had this to say about TeYosh, and their longlisted work, ‘Dictionary of Online Behavior’:

“Serbian design duo TeYosh is a sight for sore eyes in the male-dominated digital domain: a feisty girl gang of two bringing some much-needed pop fun to digital aesthetics, with a clever twist. Focusing on our generation’s obsession with all things bright and shiny on digital screens, TeYosh creates cautionary tales to tell us about the emotional capacities of immersive technology, and our complete digital addiction. Their biggest mark on digital design in past years was the ‘Dictionary of Online Behavior’, a series of digital animations showing us how we use/misuse digital technology in daily life in bright, neon color bliss, like a medical look-book for the online generation.”

Maeve Rendle – UK

Maeve Rendle is a British artist living in Preston, Lancashire. Working with video and performance, she explores the notion of a pre-determined experience. Using video to capture people performing tasks in real time, she hopes we may be privy to uninhibited aspects of the psyche. She has been longlisted for her moving image work, ‘Exactly the Same’. Recent projects include ‘Oh, it is easy to be clever if one does not know all these questions’ (Dox Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague, 2018); ‘Movement and Dance’ (The Tetley, Leeds, 2018); and ‘I Remember All’ (Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, 2017). Her forthcoming performance, ‘What cannot be turned aside’, is at Touchstones Rochdale.  

Ksenia Galkina – RU

Ksenia Galkina was born in 1988 in Krasnoyarsk, graduated from the Faculty of Journalism of the Federal University of Siberia, in 2016 she graduated from the Rodchenko Art School, Moscow

Over the past few years she has been working with video, photography and programming. She reflects on the subject of the non-material existence of man and objects, on digitizing and «zeroing» the space and actions. In her works the artist translates herself into a hologram, into a set of intangible points. It calls into a question the necessity of physical existence for cognition.

Rethinking the daily rituals of a human, leading to the formation of various social concepts and rejecting the human body, Kseniia Galkina captures the existence of a new kind of life that reforms cognition and rushing to eternity.

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