!technoloffspring! = animated films and interactive games of absurdist technological beings birthed from “IntertwinedHerStories” originating from the cross-section of *-gender-*-technology-*-lens-based-media-*-thehumanbody-*-caregiving-*. These animations and games propose a reimagining of what “technology” might mean in the context of an absurdist caregiving society and originate from an “entangled constellation of caregiving” as subjects of care and caregivers themselves. They are digital assemblages of altered and combined imagery, found and developed, that assembles linkages between creative (technological and scientific) work of women from the present and past.
This imagery includes 1) patent drawings created by women, 2) images of women and technology from popular culture and history, 3) images of the body that reflect my surgeries and experiences with cancer, childbirth/caregiving, and surgically induced premature menopause, 4) videos of myself interacting with technologies, 5) found and created drawings and 3d models of technologies, and 6) my performances for the camera in which I reenact the paid and unpaid labor of women from history alongside the enactment of my own labor as a mother, artist, educator who also studied mechanical engineering and industrial design.
These technological beings feel at once life-like and robotic and have personalities, behaviors, needs and must be cared for like one’s offspring, such as feeding, clothing, bathing, warming, carrying, rolling around, soothing, hugging, cleaning, comforting, etc. Each will have a code of instructions that define their “personality” and how they should be “cared-for”.
These films and games incorporate found and developed digital imagery that depict threads related to the invisible paid and unpaid labor of women. The amalgam of digitally altered video, performance, animation, 3d modeling, 3d design drawings, illustration, photography, sound, and processing code is unique and seeks to 1) bring together the creative voices of women (past and present) like a sort of digital community of women’s creative work and 2) recode the technological landscape (that is designed mostly by and for men) as inclusive of female and non-gendered code, 3) propose new technologies originating from caregiving. Absurdist games and films bring visibility to this work in playful, unexpected ways and place value in creativity in an absurdist resistance against and proposal for reimagining an alternative to patriarchal, capitalist, production-based, essentialist, seemingly rational, seemingly useful, logical, optimization-driven, commercialized, deterministic systems.
My work makes visible the invisible paid and unpaid labor of women and is informed by my interests in “Gender and Technology Studies” and my lived experience as 1) the primary caregiver for my three young daughters, 2) living in my female reproductive body as understood through medical technology, pregnancy and childbirth complications, and lived illness (breast and uterine cancer and surgically induced premature menopause), 3) the immensely creative imaginations of my children, and 4) the lens of a woman with experience in mechanical engineering and industrial design. I’m inspired by non-fiction written work including: Mothers and Daughters of Invention by Autumn Stanley, Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, Mother of Invention by Katrine Marçal, Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? by Katrine Marçal, and Mothers & Others by Sarah Bluffer Hrdy. Recently, the science-fiction novel The Employees by Olga Ravn.
The work seeks to 1) raise awareness of invisible work of women (past and present) through the lens of technology, 2) make space for non-gendered and non-binary understandings of technology by refusing the binary technological landscape that is patriarchal, capitalist, production-based, 3) illuminate the fact that technology is mostly made for and by men, and 4) proposes an absurdist refusal/resistance recoding of technology with an emphasis on caregiving.
These games and animations will be accessible to anyone (young and old) with internet access and will be presented via social media and live in-person workshops.
These games and animated films will be disseminated on social media and in live workshops at which children and adults can play the games and watch the films and participate in hands-on activities derived from the projects. Information on the origins of the characters (related to women’s labor and to popular culture and historical references) and information about various objects in the games can be accessed in the games and online. When presented in printed form, each image will have a QR code to a relevant game or animation.
The work weaves an entangled mesh of ideas that impact one another like a rube Goldberg machine (Entangled Constellation of Connections⎌), each a thread originating from a lived experience in which i encountered the work of women⌱in daily life (physical women and representations of women through media). The threads are woven into a digital contraption/being in ways based on what I call digital tinkering⍾to make creative connections between seemingly unrelated imagery but which indeed are entangled in complicated ways (ways that i design like an engineer of absurdity) just like they are in my life (Intertwined HerStories⍝). These contraptions seek to unravel new absurdly illogical myths〄about motherhood, technology, women’s bodies, domestic labor, caregiving labor, aesthetic labor, emotional labor, commercial/marketing labor. These myths place value in creativity and improvisation in an absurdist resistance against and proposal for reimagining an alternative to patriarchal, capitalist, production-based, essentialist, seemingly rational, seemingly useful, seemingly logical, optimization-driven, commercialized, deterministic systems.
The work of women that I encounter in my daily life (both real women I interact with, myself, and those represented in various types of media). The work includes both paid and unpaid labor, much that is invisible. This work includes the following types of labor: emotional labor, caregiving labor (including motherhood), domestic labor, aesthetic labor, presentation labor (my term), commercial/marketing labor (my term), creative labor (my term for work in creative production of ideas and objects, such as art, engineering, design, technological innovation, science, education).
Entangled Constellation of Connections⎌
Lately, as I go through my day, I sometimes find it hard to not see the connections between things. It is as though I cannot UNSEE the connections that I see. I think, perhaps, this is something that happens when you become a parent or caregiver. If you do this thing or that thing, it might lead to this thing or that thing that was unintended. This happens in the mornings as I get my three daughters ready for school. If I do so much as mention something that might happen later in the day, there is an eruption of argument, discussion, tangential trajectories of behaviors, socks will not be put on, no one can eat breakfast, everyone will revolt against the tasks that must be completed.
The detritus/residue and results/designs that are born from digital tinkering with imagery using various digital programs, including photoshop, illustrator, after effects, processing. This digital tinkering is birthed from play and insatiable curiosity and resembles that of my children and of inventors/engineers who tinker with building materials. It is like play with objects, but play with digital imagery. It is like the improvised pivoting from one task to another of caregivers. Then the tinkering leads to designs that create absurd linkages between ideas, through my absurd digital engineering. This tinkering relates to this quote by Mary Quattlebaum in this article “IF NECESSITY is the mother of invention, then play is her curious child — tinkering, taking apart, coming up with something new.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/2002/10/04/at-play-in-the-invention-dimension/773d4eab-f233-4c56-95bd-376af0210b32/
As I am working on weaving these women’s work together, I have happened upon a few quotes that are very relevant. Pauli Murray “One person plus one typewriter constitutes a movement.” In this way, I highlight the work of singular women (who might be otherwise unknown or only known to a small number of people, sometimes just women in my everyday life) in order to draw a larger narrative that includes the creative work of these women. Casting a wide net to weave the work of singular women together. Knowing their work and telling their stories places value in it. Referring to her book, Cassandra Speaks https://goodnewsplanet.com/cassandra-speaks-when-women-are-the-storytellers-the-human-story-changes-by-elizabeth-lesser/, Elizabeth Lesser writes about “how we all can rewrite the hero myth by honoring and telling the stories of women who have inspired us” (Austin Tang). “When I dream of a better world,” Lesser writes, “I dream of men fearlessly reclaiming traits that have been coded feminine: feelings, empathy, communication. I dream of women reclaiming traits that have been coded masculine: ambition, confidence, authority. But what I dream of most is women and men mixing it up, blending it all together, tempering power with wisdom, giving muscle and prestige to love and nurture. That’s my dream. I hope this book gives voice to yours and helps you weave the new stories the world is waiting for.”
Absurdly Illogical Myths〄
These contraptions seek to unravel new absurdly illogical myths〄 about motherhood, technology, women’s bodies, domestic labor, caregiving labor, aesthetic labor, emotional labor, commercial/marketing labor. These myths place value in creativity and improvisation in an absurdist resistance against and proposal for reimagining an alternative to patriarchal, capitalist, production-based, essentialist, seemingly rational, seemingly useful, seemingly logical, optimization-driven, commercialized, deterministic systems.
Parts List with Links
HERo: Carrie E. Brower. Reclining-Chair. US PATENT No. 608,359 from 1898. “Be it known that We, CARRIE E. BROWE and DANIEL W. BRowER, citizens of the United States, residing in Paterson, in thence being had to the accompanying drawings, and to letters of reference marked thereon, which form a part of this specification. and its object is to provide a chair of this nature which shall be convertible for receiving a person either in a sitting or a reclining position.
The reclining-chair which is provided with our improvements is shown in the accompanying drawings, and is hereinafterdescribed as mounted on wheels and as constituting what is commonly known as a childs gocart; but we desire it to be distinctly understood that we do not wish to be limited to the chair as involving these any morethan other likewise more orless immaterial “features.”
HERo: Clara Ford. All of these famous entrepreneurs are always talking about flying cars…. If created, who will these actually benefit? What if we instead consider flying buses to take our children to school? How joyous would that be???!!!!
And why did we not have electric cars until recently, when they are much better that gas cars in many ways? The car pictured here is the Clara Ford Electric car that could have instigated innovation in the process of electric vehicles, as opposed to gas, but history is bound up with gender. Katrine Marçal is the author of Mother of Invention: How Good Ideas Get Ignored in an Economy Built for Men. She writes, “Why did it seem so implausible to the car industry that a male consumer could want a car that he could start without risking breaking his wrist? Why was it taken for granted that men wanted a car that roared and stank by default? Why were demands for comfort, convenience and safety attributed to women alone?
If anything, these values are human values. But that which we have chosen to call “feminine” we often also think of as “inferior.” That certainly happened with the early electric car.
It became a “drawing room on wheels” – rather than a technological marvel.” Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-ladies-only-why-men-snubbed-the-original-electric-car/
HERo: Ilana Wisby, CEO and founder of Oxford Quantum Circuits.
Function: Provides the code for the technological contraption that gives birth to cabbage television beings.
HERo: Alice Guy Blache who directed the Cabbage Fairy. “The first film directed by a female director, “The Cabbage Fairy” presents a brief fantasy tale involving a strange fairy who can produce and deliver babies coming out of cabbages. Gently moving through the cabbages and using of lovely gestures, she takes one baby out of there, then makes more magic and delivers two more.” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0223341/
Function: Cabbage television beings play a very small version of The Cabbage Fairy & will also play my reenactment of the film.
Do You Believe in Fairies? Cabbages, Victorian Memes, and the Birth of Cinema: Seeing Sapphic Sexuality in the Silent Era
HERo: The unpaid, domestic and caregiving labor that women do as represented in historical children’s books.
Function: Provide the ability to move to the technology that gives birth to the Cabbage Fairy Television beings.
HERo: Sarah E. Goode. 1885. “Be it known that I, SARAH E. GooDE, acitizen of the United States, residing at Chicago, in the county of Cook and State of Illinois, have invented a certain new and useful Improvement in Cabinet-Beds, of which the following is a full, clear, concise, and exact description, reference being had to the accompanying drawings, forming a part of this specification.
This invention relates to that class of sectional bedsteads adapted to be folded together when -not in use, so as to occupy less space, and made generally to resemble some article of furniture when so folded.
The objects of this invention are, first, to provide a folding bed of novel construction, adapted, when folded together, to form adesk suitable for office or general use; second, to provide for counterbalancing the weight of the folding sections of the bed, so that they may be easily raised or lowered in folding or unfolding the bed; third, to provide forholding the hinged or folding sections securely in place when the bed is unfolded, and, fourth, to provide an automatic auxiliary support for the bedding at the middle when the bed is un folded.”
Function: Structural support for the Cabbage Television beings.
HERo: Beulah Louise Henry. 1931. “Patented Dec. 1, 1936 UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE This invention relates to writing machines and has for an object to provide an improved devicev for use in producing a plurality of copies each having the appearance of a so-called original ribbon copy.
The invention has been developed in connection with the production of a typewriter attachment carrying an ink impregnated ribbon arranged to be interposed between successive sheets of paper opposite the position of operation of the usual type bars and such an embodiment will be more particularly described for the purpose of illustrating the principles of the invention. It will be understood, however, that the descriptionof the particular device is illustrative merely and is not intended as defining the limits of the invention.”
Function: Bottom part of the body of the typewriter being.
HERo: Women who watch television.
Function: Technological components that give power and run the Cabbage Television beings.
HERo: Lyda Newman, inventor of patent N. 614,335 in 1898 for “synthetic hairbrush”. “Be it known that I, LYDA D. NEWMAN, of the city of New York, borough of Manhattan, in the county and State of New York, have invented a new and Improved Brush, of which the following is a full, clear, and eXact description.
The object of the invention is to provide a new and improved hair-brush which is simple and durable in construction, very effective when in use,and arranged to permit of conveniently cleaning the brush whenever desired.”
Function: Brushes the metallic hair of the blocks.
HERo: Suffragettes from historical photographs. “[Nine African-American women posed, standing, full length, with Nannie Burroughs holding banner reading, “Banner State Woman’s National Baptist Convention”]” and “”A year after women won full voting rights, these women joined in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue on March 27, 1921.”
Function: Gives birth to blocks and combs the hair of the blocks.
Link: Suffragette Photograph 1 https://www.loc.gov/resource/cph.3c06646/
Suffragette Photograph 2 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Suffragettes,_New_York_Times,_1921.JPG
HERo: Eliza L. Moore, inventor of patent No. 136,663 in 1973 for “Accouchement Couches” with are birthing chairs. “Be it known that I, ELIZA LAVINIA MOORE, of San Francisco city and county, State of California,have invented an Accouc’hement-Couch; and I do hereby declare the following’description and accompanying drawing are sufficient to enable any person skilled in the art or science to which it most nearly appertains to make and use my said invention without further invention or experiment.
– My invention relates to a couch or bed which is suitably constructed and provided with the necessary appliances to render it extremely convenient and useful in accouchement cases.”
Function: Supports and catches the blocks after they are born.
HERo: Kate Greenaway, author of children’s book “A Apple Pie” from 1900.
Function: Covers the structure like a tent.
HERo: Kate Bouman, an American engineer and computer scientist who led development of an algorithm for imaging black holes.
Function: Heart of the beings birthed from the entrepreneurial spigot.
HERo: Margaret A. Wilcox, inventor of patent No. 426,486 for a Combined Clothes and Dishwasher in 1890. “Be it known that i, MARGARET A. VVILCOX, a citizen of the United States, residing at Chicago, in the county of Cook and State of Illinois, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Combined Clothes and Dish “Washers, of which the following’ is a specification, reference being had therein to the ac llhis improvement relates to a washing-machine of that class in which there is a fixed semicircular tank or tub to receive the operating’ parts, and which may also be utilized f for washing either ciothcs or dishessandthe invention consists in the peculiar arrangement, combination, and construction of parts, hereinafter described, and then definitely pointed ont in the claims.”
Function: Legs and abdomen of the beings with the hairy black hole hearts.
HERo: Mothers as linked to robots in this article “Bio Robots Can Now Reproduce and Experience Motherhood!”
Function: Body structure of the beings.
HERo: Louise Nelson. 1906. Pessary Patent for birth control. “Be it known that I, LOUIsE N ELSON, a citizen of the United States, residing in the city of Oakland, Alameda county, State of Cali fornia, have invented a new and useful Improvement in a Pessary, of which the following is a specification.
My invention relates to an improvement in pessary, the object being to furnish a sanitary contrivance to be used by ladies during menstruation and also a more comfortable support for the womb than heretofore. I attain these objects by means of a hard rubber tube with a slightly extended edge, forming a cup shape, also a soft rubber tube fitted on the outside which prevents the hard rub ber edges from injuring the flesh, the pessary being supported on a hard rubber stem which has a small cross tube at its lower end allowing elastic cord to be run through and fasten on a waist or straps from the shoulders.”
Function: Legs for robotic machine with women airplane mechanics.
HERo: Women who worked in airplane mechanics. “This woman worker at the Vultee-Nashville is shown making final adjustments in the wheel well of an inner wing before the installation of the landing gear, Nashville, Tenn. This [is] one of the numerous assembly operations in connection with the mass production of Vultee “Vengeance” dive bombers”
Function: Attaches to the ladder
HERo: Belle West. 1888. Combined Step-Ladder and Ironing Board. “Be it known that we, WEALTHY J. ALLEN and BELLE WEST, citizens of the United States, residing, respectively, at Arkansas City and Winfield, in the county of Cowley and State of Kansas, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in a Combined Step-Ladder and Ironing-Board, of which the following is a specification, reference being had to the acro companying drawings, forming part thereof, in which Figure l is a perspective view of our combined step-ladder and ironing-board when in use as a step-ladder. Fig. 2 is a side elevation of the same-when in use as an ironing-board, the bosom andsleeve. board being thrown back out of the way; and Fig. 3 is a plan view of the ironing-boardand bosom and sleeve board.”
Function: Holds the robotic being together.
HERo: Doris Moehrle. Reusable tampon. 1976. “A reusable tampon device including a body of flexible, dry compressible cellular sponge material such as polyurethane foam which is capable of absorbing body fluids such as menses and having an outer covering completely enclosing said body and comprising a porous structure having at least one open mesh fibrous material layer forming a bag and including a draw string interconnected with peripheral portions of the bag for opening and closing such to permit easy removal of the body therefrom for cleansing and reuse.”
Function: Body structure of the beings originating from the kneading machine.
HERo: Maria E. Beasley. 1903. “The object of my invention has been to provide a kneading-machine which shall be so thorough and uniform in its action that the maximum amount of dough shall be produced from any given amount of flour; and to such end my invention consists in the kneadingmachine hereinafter specified.
In carrying my invention into practice I provide a base A, having a central hearing B, in which is mounted a vertical shaft 0, that carries at its upper end a circular table D. The table is supported and steadied toward its outer edge by pillar-bearings E, mounted upon. the base-plate, and supporting-rolls e, which engage the under-surface of the table.”
Function: Kneads like dough the red beings made from reusable tampons.
HERo: Scientists studying bubbles. Karen Uhlenbeck. Eleanor Stride. Helen Czerski.
HERo: Eliza Kirwin. 1892. “Be it known that I, ELIZA Kirwin, a citizen of the United States, residing at Indianapolis, in the county of Marion and State of Indiana, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Uterine Supporters, of which the following is a specification.
My said invention consists in an improved construction of uterine supporters, which is simple and inexpensive in construction and convenient and efficient in use, as will be hereinafter more particularly described and claimed.”
Function: Blue uterus hugging machine
HERo: Alice O. McCord. 1887. Cervical canal “Be it known that I, ALICE O. MCCORD, a
citizen of the United States, residing at (101- fax, in the county of Whitman and Territory of Washington, have invented a new and useful Automatic Stein-Pessary for Use in the Treatmentof Diseases of the Vomb, of which the following is a specification.
My invention is a cervical cup and intrauterine stem attached for the purpose of applying medicine to the cervix uteri and holding it in place during treatment of diseased condition of the womb.”
Function: Blue uterus hugging machine
HERo: Margaret Hart. 1885. “Be it known that I, Margaret Hart, of the city and county of New York, in the State of New York, have invented a new and useful Improvement in Syringes and Injecting Apparatus, of which the following is a specification.
My invention relates to syringes and injecting apparatus in which the liquid contents of a bottle or receptacle may be forcibly expelled through a discharge-tube by compressing an elastic india rubber bulb or air chamber, whereby air will be compressed within the bottle or receptacle to expel the liquid, and particularly to syringes or injecting apparatus for the rectal injection of medicines, and nourishment for uterine purposes, and for the syringing of wounds.
In syringes or apparatus of the kind described it is very desirable to employ with the discharge-tube small flexible nozzle or tip sections which may be bent to give them the proper curve, and will not iuj ure any part of the body with which they come in contact; and the object of my invent-ion is to provide a simple and effective coupling for attaching such tipsections or nozzlesections to the discharge-tube, so that they may be readily renewed when worn out, and attached and detached without abrasion or injury to them.”
Function: Blue Uterus hugging machine.
HERo: Animals with vaginas that have not been researched.
Function: Blue uterus hugging machine.
HERo: Mothers who are unable to find baby formula due to the shortage.
Function: blue uterus hugging machine.
HERo: “Operating a hand drill at Vultee-Nashville, woman is working on a “Vengeance” dive bomber, Tennessee”
Function: Blue Uterus hugging machine.
HERo: “Woman working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in Calif.”
Function: Blue Uterus hugging machine.
HERo: “Two women workers are shown capping and inspecting tubing which goes into the manufacture of the “Vengeance” (A-31) dive bomber made at Vultee’s Nashville division, Tennessee. The “Vengeance” (A-31) was originally designed for the French. It was later adopted by the R.A.F. and still later by the U.S. Army Air Forces. It is a single-engine, low-wing plane, carrying a crew of two men and having six machine guns of varying calibers”
Function: Blue Uterus hugging machine.
HERo: “Working on a “Vengeance” dive bomber, Vultee [Aircraft Inc.], Nashville, Tennessee”
Function: Blue Uterus hugging machine.
HERo: Blanche Ames Ames. 1922. “This invention relates t0 a system ofn cards. The present invention belongs to the standards for the comparison of color, for last mentioned class of device, and com rises the purpose of enabling the color of an object or surface to be determined in terms of a known and definite pigmented surface.
While there have been many suggestions in the prior art of methods of and devices for determining the specific color ofl a sur-v .fa’ce and of stating that specific color inl terms capable definitely to identify the color refered to descriptively, so that the arts and industries may be informed by the def scription of the exact color we are aware of no system of the/sort o sufficient convenience, sufficient accuracy, and suiiicient freedom from the requirement for skllled operation of the estimator of the c olor to reach the large iield of vutility waiting for some such system. Painters, whether industrial lor artistic, decorators, dyers, dress.”
Function: Part of blue uterine structure.