New Feminism: Next Time, Baby I’ll be #Bulletproof

‘Next Time, Baby I’ll be #Bulletproof’ is a collision of the live body and its technological mediations by Web 2.0 artist Jennifer Chan, accompanied by ‘Gyre’, a commissioned essay by London based art historian Cadence Kinsey. Bursting muscles of boys and men in YouTube videos are lit by 3D explosions and images of breaking icebergs are underscored by Liam Gillick’s appropriated voiceover – while a little dog attempts to resuscitate his deceased mate. In this framework Jennifer Chan declares ‘I had a dream. Everybody was the same’.

Hana Janečková

01 Love Fighter

02 Equality

03 Cadence Kinsey: Gyre

There is a division between those who advocate repairing and those who advocate preparing. In the latter category are ‘homeland survivalists’, 4×4 drivers, investors in gold and those in the market for panic rooms; in the former category are the progressives, the revisionists, people with retro style. Perhaps it is a question of how long you think we have got. When you see the vortex, do you see it winding out, into the space in front of you, or screwing ever deeper away from you? Differences collapse. The hurricane flattens.

The North Pacific Gyre is the largest ecosystem on Earth, located between the Equator and 50°N latitude. Circulating clockwise around a low energy center, it draws in the North Pacific Current, the North Equatorial Current, the Kuroshio Current and the California Current. In these horse latitudes, with little precipitation and light winds, floating material is drawn into the center of the slow spiral, and remains there: a never-ending trash vortex rotating over an area equivalent in size to Turkey. Bottle tops, lighters, balloons get mistaken for prey and fill the stomachs of Albatross and Turtles. Microscopic particles of plastic become suspended in the upper water column beneath the surface of the ocean. Unlike organic debris, which biodegrades, plastic photodegrades, breaking down into ever-smaller units, which remain polymers. It is at this stage that the plastic may be ingested by aquatic organisms and enter the food chain.

There is an expanding area of increasing homogeneity and equivalent toxicity that is being eaten up, and broken down. In Jennifer Chan’s ‘Equality’, the characters proclaim ‘I am an athlete’, ‘I am a scientist’, ‘I am a future architect’. In the supra-presence of the simultaneous network, indivisibility is the same as invisibility.

If there is a difference between the tenor of the images that we see in both ‘Equality’ and ‘Love Fighter’, and that of the commentary by the artist Liam Gillick, it is that in so many of Chan’s images we witness a confrontation with something that can have no rational response, something abjecting. By contrast, Gillick’s response to the damaging effects of the ideologies of the right is that we confront, and take up, the challenges that the modernist project presents us. We do so, he suggests, by occupying for the first time, by claiming authorship, by engaging with the organizing structures of modernism, with its systems; in short, with its rationalism.

But we are left wondering about the little dog at the core of ‘Equality’s’ emotional impact. It is unable to deal with the reality of what is before it, intent instead to try to bring its fallen comrade back to life by frantically pawing at its chest. Here, there is another kind of breaking down that is no less terrifying, I imagine, than that of our own, which we face in the Anthropocene, and is suggested in the opening scene of ‘Equality’. This terror unifies those two groups, the preparing and the repairing. It is just beneath the surface: behind the young men’s efforts in ‘Love Fighter’ to become #bulletproof, and behind the equally impermeable smiles of those masters of cupcake-individualism in the social network.

04 Jennifer Chan - Biography

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Jennifer Chan makes remix videos, gifs, installations and websites that contend with the gendered affects of media culture. Chan had solo screenings and exhibitions at Transmediale 2013 (Germany), Future Gallery (Berlin), Images Festival (Toronto), Vox Populi (Philadelphia), The Nightingale (Chicago), and recently LTD (Los Angeles).

Her work has been featured on Rhizome, Furtherfield, LEAP, Dazed Digital, New Hive, and Sleek Magazine. Chan’s videos are distributed by VTape (Toronto). She was born in Ottawa, raised in Hong Kong, and is now based in Chicago.

05 Cadence Kinsey - Biography

Dr Cadence Kinsey is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History of Art at University College London. She is currently working on a book project about art after the Internet. Her research is focused on the social, political and historical inter-relationships between technology, constructions of gender and sexuality, and theories of science and technology.

Cadence has held visiting lectureships at the Courtauld Institute of Art, the Slade School of Fine Art, and Imperial College London. Her research has been published by Mute, Arcadia_Missa and has featured in ‘Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society’.

06 New Feminism - I turn the images of my voice in my head

”New Feminism – I turn the images of my voice in my head” is a regular online presentation of work by a generation of artists responding to the on going fourth wave of feminism. Author of the project is Hana Janečková. Screenings of artists’ moving image will be accompanied by commissioned texts from curators, critics and theoreticians writing about the influence of feminism, technology and new media on contemporary culture.

What has happened recently to your body? Are you proud to be male or female? Can you be a feminist if your avatar enjoys wearing pink? Do you think gender is a capitalist concept? If so, do you think it existed in the former Eastern Block?

07 Exhibition credits

Author of the Project / Curator: Hana Janečková
Authors of Texts: Cadence Kinsey and Hana Janečková
Online Exhibition Concept: Hana Janečková and Lenka Střeláková
Editing and Realization: Lenka Střeláková
Translated into Czech: Palo Fabuš
Published: 18. 3. 2015