In Rigged, Kate Cooper uses CGI technology to comment on consumer capitalism, productivity, and image consumption in what the artist describes as “the language of hypercapitalism.” The work critically addresses the production of images in mass advertising, in particular the viewer’s relationship to the performativity of women’s bodies. Presented in a three-dimensional environment devoid of any contextual information, a seemingly perfect digital female body runs through space, while also cycling through different facial expressions that denote a range of recognizable emotions. Here, the body is the epitome of efficiency: athletic, productive, healthy, streamlined. And although as viewers we are aware of her artificial nature, we are inevitably drawn to her as a real, desired body. The phrase constantly repeated in the video, “disappear completely,” denounces the fetishized female body and provides a space for freedom outside bodily physical constraints. For Cooper, these constructed models do not represent anything in the real world, but rather offer (in the digital realm’s sustained promise of true autonomy) possibilities for agency to occur.
In a time of embedded lives and networked culture, where the screen acts as a mediator between the self and perceived reality, technology has ostensibly become an extension of the body, changing our relationship to space, ourselves, and others. Digital Bodies is a one-year program that features videos by artists who use and manipulate digital technologies—mainly computer-generated images, signs, and systems sourced from digital platforms—to reflect on how these technologies have impacted our everyday lives and changed the ways we relate to the world. Given our current state of constant digital expansion and acceleration, these works express the pervasiveness and indispensability of digital culture in shaping our daily interactions.
Digital Bodies is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Carla Acevedo-Yates and Steven L. Bridges, Assistant Curators. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Alan and Rebecca Ross endowed exhibitions fund and the MSU Broad’s general exhibitions fund.