Anna Shimshak

Amor•us: Power and Gender Representation in Erotic Technologies

PhD candidate

  • Anna Shimshak

While the idealization of the female form and desire to anthropomorphize fantasy date back to the ancients, the exponential pace of technological innovation in the modern age presents a unique, hybridized ecosystem of fantasy, spanning the digital and real world. What distinguishes the contemporary nexus of technology and desire from its historical counterparts are the levels of complete control over and realness in the experience of fantasy facilitated by modern technology. Objects meant to give pleasure and facilitate fantasy are no longer crude or fictional facsimiles of the human form. Rather, technological innovation has allowed the erotic industry and objects catering to desire and fantasy to be multiplicitous, spanning both the digital, virtual realm and real, physical world. This research, therefore, aims to interrogate the relationship between erotic technologies, such as sex robots, VR avatars, AI, and their implications in gender dynamics of power.

My work is concerned with the juxtaposition of technology as it relates to beauty, desire, fantasy, gender and power, especially concerning the portrayal and treatment of the female body. As a practicing artist, I seek to develop an art and research practice predicated on interactive art installations that confront erotic technologies and their mediation of beauty, power and gender representation. Research and interactive installation pieces aim to investigate how erotic technologies affect human to human interactions as well as interactions with the digital. Additionally, art and research practices will explore erotic technologies in the context of feminist theory with a deep aesthetic investigation examining the design of the technologies in the larger art historical canon of bodily representation. Within the canons of art, depictions of women and more specifically, the female nude, figure prominently. The rendering the female body in art is one intrinsically linked to dynamics of power that manifest themselves in the articulation of form. This work, therefore, aims to investigate the broad reaching ramifications of the aesthetic design and erotics of the technologically mediated female form.