Cyborg Mommy: Everything I Know About Computers I Learned From Mother

Pattie Belle Hastings
Independent Artist, USA
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Abstract: As machines and bodies increasingly become fused, Cyborg Theory celebrates, criticizes, and condemns the process – the machine/body relationship is at once liberating and oppressing. While movies and fiction depict the Cyborg as a futuristic superhuman or technological monster, my new body of work proposes that it is actually your average Mother and Housewife that are among the first so-called Cyborgs.

The machine has extended the body of the mother for centuries as she tended the stove, cranked the washer, peddled the sewing machine, and vacuumed the house, but she hardly exists in discussions of technological culture, except as a consuming unit for manufacturing and advertising or in the case of reproductive technologies – the body that carries the baby. There has been little or no discussion about the postpartum technologizing of the mother and child. With microchips embedded in everything from toys and greeting cards to thermometers and baby monitors, increasingly, the mother/child relationship is mediated, complicated and enhanced by machines. We are encouraged to feed our infants information as if we were storing data on a hard drive with a push to begin "programming" their brains in utero.

What is a cyborg mother to do? Here's to the recognition of the Cyborg Mommy – the Cyborg as oppressed and the Cyborg as liberated. "Cyborg Mommy" is an ongoing body of work, cyberfeminist in nature, that includes video, multimedia CD-ROM, performance, costume, books, digital ephemera, and printed matter.

"Cyborg Mommy" is a costumed performance persona that embodies hybridity, parody, and capitulation in the merging of flesh and technology, woman and machine. The "Cyborg Mommy" multi-media performance/presentation consists of simultaneous projections of the multimedia CD-ROM and Cyborg Mommy’s disembodied head as she defines and demonstrates how it is that everything she knows about computers she learned from Mother.The piece is approximately 30 minutes long. The CD-ROM documents are embedded with image, sound, video and are hyperlinked to each other and dozens of websites that are cyberfeminist, hip mother, and cyborg in content.

About the Presenter: Pattie Belle Hastings is an artist and educator currently living in New Haven, CT, USA, and soon to be living in Oslo, Norway. Her artists' books have been collected by many prestigious museum and library collections, and have been exhibited internationally. She has recently completed her MFA in New Media through Vermont College.