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Review on Ignite: Women Fueling Science and Technology Technology is a Women's Human Rights Issue

Review on Ignite: Women Fueling Science and Technology Technology is a Women's Human Rights Issue

  • Author:

    Gwen Kuan-ying Kuo
  • 創用CC:

    Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives

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Dee Hibbert-Jones & Nomi Talisman, Living Condition, experimental animation. (Picture credit of Dee Hibbert-Jones & Nomi Talisman)


"This is something that... I don't like to remember..." The simple lines on the screen showing a black lady spoke with tears. Based on the true story, this animated documentary film Living Condition is created by Nomi Talisman and Dee Hibbert-Jones, both artists are single mothers. Living Condition scrutinizes the impact of capital punishment on many women’s lives. These women lived with a son, brother, or partner accused of a capital crime; these women are in fact living under extraordinary circumstances that they are frequently exclusive from the mainstream society, marginalized yet at the same time fighting to defend the men in their life, and raising the kids all by herself without partner's support. The intriguing computerized story-telling in Living Condition showcases that the animation can also persuasively transmit the messages of social justice and further help to voice out for the people who are silenced by the social system.

Living Condition is one the artworks showing in the Creative gallery of Ignite: Women Fueling Science and Technology. “We are in the midst of a global technology revolution and if women are left behind, the consequences will be bleak.” says Musimbi Kanyoro, CEO and President of Global Fund for Women (GFW). To promote gender equality in digital science is the curatorial concept of Ignite, an 8-month campaign and project incorporates an online petition co-presented with UN Women calling for governments and the United Nations to take action to end the gender gap in technology and to advance women’s rights. Ignite is also the first campaign of the merger between International Museum of Women (IMOW) with GFW since March 2014.




Ivory Smith, The Slow Surge of Moonlight, Sound Artwork. (Picture credit of Ivory Smith)


Sound artist Ivory Smith provides The Slow Surge of Moonlight to participate in Ignite. Smith points out those women are rare in the field of digital composition industry - she was the only girl in the whole class of eighteen students. However, she has decided not to succumb to the bias of "women are not good at technology." Smith considers herself as a feminist and would take the challenge to conquer composition technology. By using of Max/MSP and other audio programs, she creates the church chorus effects in The Slow Surge of Moonlight. Once she overcame the technical issues, Smith hold still the DIY spirit of experimental sound art – if male artists can, female artists can. This discovery motivated her to submit sound artworks for Ignite and hopefully to inspire more women artists to join the digital composition field.




Pey-Chwen Lin, Eve Clone Series, the digital media process. (Picture credit of Pey-Chwen Lin)


Meanwhile, Taiwan artist Pey-Chwen Lin's Eve Clone series and the artist's talk clip are arranged at the significant spot of the Ignite Creative gallery. Through Lin's digital technical process in making of this artwork, Eve Clone VI questions about human's pride and our vanity boosted up by the materialistic man-made technology. Precariously, the over-dependence on the technology has caused human greedily fantasize to play the role of God, the cloning technology creating artificial life is against the Nature order. The newly developed technology has surpassed the convenient purpose for our daily life but started to destruct our natural ecology, resulting in irreparable catastrophe such as global warming, nuclear disaster, synthesized foods, gene duplication, electromagnetic waves, and computerizing substituted humans' intelligence. Pey-Chwen Lin uses the 3D animation to create the ideal woman Eve Clone to mock the human's arrogance in tempting to play the role of God. Echoed to her early work Antithesis and Intertext, which investigated the stereotypical social norm of “ideal woman” which suppresses women's body by way of ancient feet-binding to contemporary plastic surgery, Eve Clone interrogates the inhuman concept of “ideal woman” has caused tremendous distortion and dehumanizing our natural female figure. Eve Clone at Ignite serves as the prophetic of disastrous future lead by the male-dominated technology.




Olya Dubatova, Sound Installation, fragment, a screen with a sonogram. (Picture credit of Olya Dubatova)






Olya Dubatova, I Live in a Photobooth, Experimental music video. (Picture credit of Olya Dubatova)

Respectively, Olya Dubatova's homemade music video I Live in a Photobooth is another allegory examining the selfie phenomenon which has created the invisible imprisonment on women today. Dragging a huge photobooth with narcissistically exaggerated facial expression, the protagonist in the music video is living in a ridiculous condition but considers herself as a shining star. Her performance exhibits the absurdity of the selfie culture in the digital era. How many young ladies are recreating their own identity and searching for self-confidence through their selfies? How much of these images truthfully reflect the reality of their life? Olya Dubatova not only investigates contemporary women’s mindset, but also creates her audio-visual interactive installation to correspond to Ivory Smith's sound art – both are taking the action of engaging in the technology and creates digital sound by the hands of female artists.




Wendy Mansilla, DreamSprawler, brain-wave sensor, interactive installation. (Picture credit of Wendy Mansilla)


Wendy Mansilla's DreamSprawler discovers the relationships between art, technology, and sub-consciousness. Specialized in multimedia experiments to explore the gender differences in human subconsciousness, Mancilla designed the interactive installation DreamSprawler to assess the accuracy of stereotypical "man is technical, woman is emotional." She examines about how our cognitions being shaped by the stimulations on our neurotic system. We internalized the input information from our surroundings and generated them as part of our self-concepts. The repeatedly advertising messages of “women love chocolate” have enforced us to believe that chocolate effects heavier on women than men. However, Mancilla’s research revealed that men in fact crave for chocolate as much as women. Through multi-disciplinary approach, DreamSprawler exemplifies the cognition experience and the infiltrated mind of human, women in specific, unveiling the truth behind stereotypes and the complexity between our memories and cognitive process.




Eleanor Gates-Stuart, StellrScope, Infrared interactive installation, LED light, Acrylic dome container. (Picture credit of Eleanor Gates-Stuart)




Eleanor Gates-Stuart, StellrScope, the imagery of agricultural research by the artist. (Picture credit of Eleanor Gates-Stuart)


Australian artist, also an agricultural biochemistry researcher Eleanor Gates-Stuart provides StellrScope for Ignite Creative gallery. Combining art and science as creative catalysts, StellrScope is based on Eleanor Gates-Stuart’s agricultural science research, the scientific innovation of wheat crops as the source of vegetable protein in our food over the past century. The viewers are invited to touch the hemispherical surface of the dome of StellrScope and the touch will further generate the interactive imageries to show the growing process of the grains and wheat. Beyond the artificial cultivation, the motion imagery is based on the agricultural scientist research which allows viewers comprehending the science through the visual rendering of meaning. The interdisciplinary explorations of StellrScope represents that art and science could be inter-related, inclusively and creatively in collaboration.



Carolyn Malachi, the Champion of Creative gallery of Ignite. (Picture credit of Carolyn Malachi)



Concurrently, the planning of Ignite online advocacy is unique. Rather than “curators,” Ignite invites “champions” to inspire women and girls globally to contribute female talents in science and technology. The champions are also the global leaders who share the passion for women’s human rights, include Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO), Reshma Saujani (founder and executive director of Girls Who Code), Irina Borkova (director-general of UNESCO) and Carolyn Malachi, the Champion for the Creative gallery. Noted as the Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter, Carolyn Malachi posits a crucial issue about the male-dominated situation and the gender gap in music engineering industry where women only took 5% in it. Her Spark Story shares about the satisfaction she gained from learning composition technology. With a better manipulation of digital composng process, Malachi accomplishes her fusion of jazz, R & B, hip-hop style and by the same token, she has took on journaling for the popular Internet media Black Girls Nerds to advocate women of the next generation to engage themselves in the music industry.


As the first event planned by the GFW and the IMOW, Ignite brings together GFW’s expertise on issues, grantmaking and fundraising collaborated with IMOW’s skills in online advocacy and digital story-telling for empowering women and girls. As pioneering advocate for women and girls’ human rights, the CEO of GFW Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro has been named as one of the 21 women leaders for the 21st century by women’s E-News; she strongly promotes women's role in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) and ICT (information communication technologies).





Ignite is an 8-month campaign and project, an online petition co-presented with UN Women calling for governments and the United Nations to take action to end the gender gap in technology to advance women’s rights. (Picture credit of Ignite, GFW, IMOW)



The mission of Ignite, coincidentally respond to Taiwan’s artist Pey-Chwen Lin’s artistic concept of Eve Clone. Lin audaciously queries about the problematically lacking of female perspectives, the male-leading techno hegemony would be at the risk of leading the whole humanity to be against our Mother Nature and cause an unpredictable catastrophes. Whereas the Ignite participated artists courageously challenge the boundaries between art and science to test the water of conventional male-tilted content in the fields of STEAM. Through their female approach on technology in music, sound art, experiment animation, artistic imagination and creativity, the Ignite Creative gallery exhibits the crucial concerns on contemporary world, provides refreshing solutions and demonstrates that women cannot be left behind of the digital revolution. The Ignite exhibition will be on line until March in 2015, when the online petition calling for the United Nations to take action for women’s rights in technology.


Compellingly, what Ignite draws our attention is beyond the borders of art and science. Ignite discloses the roles and responsibilities of female professionals in STEAM and inspires the new genres of visual/ audio art in relation to science and technology. We cannot ignore either one of both gender’s experience, contribution and talents because it will result in a huge gap and tremendous loss of the whole humanities. Ignite calls for our awareness of the urgent issues about the absence of women professionals in art and science at this critical digital revolution timing - the significance of female approach on personal to family’s connections, as well as socio-political environment is unsubstitutable. Hence, women's sensitivity and perception in science, technology and art are completing male perspectives for making a healthier and better world for all.