((sry i didn’t know how to remove what i had already written for my project?? i felt my first iteration was v. important in establishing my voice//positionality so instead of re-writing i added on 1,000 more words. it is still v. unfinished and sort of trails off at the end because i felt there was no way to wrap it up neatly (yet). it is obvious to me now that the amount of things i feel necessary to say are not exactly in line with the word count given to us. you can skip to the bolded text to read the newest part if you have already read my first iteration……))
: : : : S E C O N D I T E R A T I O N : : : : :
“There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling. In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy change. For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information within our lives.” (Lorde 53)
What would it mean to exploit the thing that has exploited me?
In any attempt to create, I feel forced to look critically at myself as I (and art object) unfold. In this way, it becomes imminently important for me to position myself as a white woman effectively challenging myself and the West as authoritative subjects of feminist and anthropological knowledge. I begin questioning the complexities of what it means to exist, operate, and “claim objectivity” as a creator, documenter, or ethnographer under the trajectory of Eurocentric frameworks which have been already put in place for me. What would it mean to disrupt these bottomless “master discourses”? What would it mean to create something in a state of becoming or fragmentation? What would it mean to exploit the thing that has exploited me?
My idea involves careful consideration of the possible linkings between “post-feminism” and “post-modernism”. By defining these two terms as not merely what comes after feminism or modernism, but pointing towards their most nascent stages, it becomes highly valuable to examine them within the context of 3D printing. Because everything we make, whether we want it to be understood as art or not, is inherently political, the ideas of “post-feminism” and “post-modernism” become my framework for understanding both my positionality and the tools, myths, and gestures involved in 3D creation.
Additionally, the exploration of truth//fact will be a guiding force within my process. By understanding that the accumulation of fact does not equate to the arrival at any certain “truth”, I question the objectivity of any notion when one realizes the aberrations carried out in the “name of truth”. Since a large part of the work that we do in this class is documentation, I feel that it is important for me to challenge the “facts” in a documentary practice. Are fact and truth neither relative nor absolute? (Trinh 156) What can truly be considered “scientific” or “objective”, when more often than not a number of codes are unconsciously used to disfigure and alter our individual understanding of how things look and feel? Why does it become more and more difficult for us not to confuse fact with truth each time we engage in a documentary practice?
It is hard for me to not feel overwhelmed. Because there are so many artistic, political, and ethical concerns connected to 3D printing, it is difficult for me to settle with one singular image or idea. It is difficult for me to get past the feeling that absolutely nothing is worth me 3D printing at all. As I find myself face to face with the hyper-reality of 3D printed pizzas, unborn fetuses, and working guns, I ask myself what separates a necessary creation from an unnecessary one? Who gets to decide what is necessary or not?
Specifically, what feels most vital in my attempt to create is the relationship between myself and the machine. Through well-considered poetic analysis of myself and the object I create I hope to disrupt something, to exploit the machine. This is where I return to my idea of creating something in a state of becoming and fragmentation. From Trinh T. Minh-ha’s Framer Framed, I quote, “Fragmentation is here a useful term because it always points to one’s limits. Since the self, like the work you produce, is not so much a core as a process, one finds oneself, in the context of cultural hybridity, always pushing one’s questioning of oneself to the limit of what one is and what one is not.”
This limit described by Trinh T. Minh-ha is particularly important because it not only points to the limits of the machine and its inevitable failure, but also the limits of myself, my physical body, and its failure to perform at times the way that it is “supposed to”. By further exploring my physical body’s limits and “failure to perform” from a feminist perspective, it becomes clear the many ways in which our capitalist-imperialist-heteronormative-patriarchal society has turned my body (simultaneously) into both a weapon and an object to (simultaneously) either be regulated or consumed. So what would it mean to visually represent this horror? What would it mean to compare my body’s limitations to the limitations of the makerbot? How can I exploit this?
I will be 3D printing sex objects. With access to a machine that can literally materialize violence, including ammunition, drones, and bombs, I will exploit the machine by creating objects used for pleasure. However, because our society has such an obtrusive definition of what female pleasure looks like, and that dildos and other sex objects must appear to be phallic, I will design three that not only completely disrupt that vision but are also crafted specifically to the wants and needs of my three housemates.
What feels most important to mention here, is the focus my project has on humanizing the ideas and experiences of sexual pleasure and well-being. Because you can see a real photobooth image of the women I am making these objects for (included in my first iteration), it can be known that there is nothing hidden here in the process. When I look at websites like intiimitechnologies.com I am reminded of the convenient anonymity that remains most prevalent in the sex industry and the marketing of sex toys.
Intiimi is a start-up company, working with Stratasys, that specializes in a “new category of sexual wellness devices” utilizing 3D printing technology. Each device is designed to measure states of arousal and respond to maximize pleasure, learning over time how to tailor its responses to enhance your pleasure and “safely increase” your sexual performance. The devices can be connected to your smartphone through downloadable apps to create “The Intiimi Network” where you can unlock achievements and reach milestones set for yourself (intiimitechnology.com). Bartosz Bos, product architect and cofounder, says, “What we’re working on isn’t merely a vibe. It’s an entirely new class of device. Like nothing on the market. We’re changing the game completely. What was once just a motor and batteries will soon be a user centered product ecosystem” (Park 1).
To hear Bartosz say this is very interesting to me. I am wondering how he plans to “change the game completely” with shutterstock photos of thin, beautiful, able-bodied couples on his website. These images, which portray a young heterosexual white couple, an older heterosexual white couple, a white lesbian couple, a gay white cis-male couple, and one heterosexual couple of color, loop through endlessly on the webpage, appealing to the very marketable mainstream. It is evident that Bartosz and his fellow creators are using the binary between cis-man and cis-woman to sell this product, regardless of other phrases on the site such as “gender neutral”. There is no representation of fat bodies or disabled bodies, and the representations of queer bodies are very limited to assimilationist ideas of what “lesbian” and “gay” looks like. LGB, often excluding trans* men and women, has become a major selling point for many companies. It is clear to me that this is exactly what intiimi is capitalizing on.
So what really is the future for 3D printed sex objects? Furthermore, how do companies like intiimi remind us to ask these questions: What is female pleasure? What is its function? How can definitions of woman be further examined along the lines of race, class, gender, and sexuality?
From Viviane V.’s essay titled Trans* Sexuality: Reflections on the Commodification of Sex from a Transgender Perspective, I quote, “My body – the body of a transgender woman – is differentiated in relation to (cisgender) ‘normalities’ for the fact that it changes itself in accordance to aesthetical standards which are not expected for ‘bodies like mine’: if hormone theraphy, aesthetical procedures to remove body hair and changes in hairstyle – the most significative procedures that I have undertaken so far – are ‘ordinary’ bodily changes according to dominant ideologies, much more restrictive social perceptions are in place when such changes take an ‘antinatural’ (transgender) route, to such an extent that, not rarely, transgender people ask ourselves whether we have any agency over our existences when they are not aligned with certain gender normativities.” (Viviane 6)
This excerpt is extremely relevant for many reasons, the most obvious one being that it speaks to an experience that I myself never can never speak to. It highlights my relationship to her and to my privilege as a cis-woman. Because my housemates also all identify as cis, we largely represent this idealized cisgendered body which Viviane speaks of never attaining. It is never-endingly important for me to acknowledge this in the process of my making. Although my body as a cis-woman is sexually exploited, it can and never will be exploited in the same way as Viviane’s or any other trans* person’s. While we are all victims of the internalization of dominant culture within our sexualities, this is especially true for those with queer sexualities and genders who are degraded, ignored, condemned, and destroyed.
HannaMonika. “Happy Mature Couple at Home.” Shutterstock, n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-73703578/stock-photo-happy- mature-couple-at-
Intiimi. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <intiimitechnology.com>
Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Trumansburg, NY: Crossing, 1984. Print.
Park, Rachel. “Intiimi Will Be like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen Before — Customized, 3D Printed Sexual Well Being.” 3D Printing Industry, 18 Sept. 2013. Web. 4 Nov. 2014.
<http%3A%2F%2F3dprintingindustry.com %2F2013%2F09%2F18%2Fintiimi-will-be-like-nothing-youve-ever-seen- before-customized-3d-printed-sexual-well-being%2F>.
Trinh, T. Minh-Ha. Framer Framed. New York: Routledge, 1992. Print.
V., Viviane. Trans* Sexuality: Reflections on the Commodification of Sex from a Transgender Perspective. Academia.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov.