January 03, 2005

Lee Bul: cyborgs as flesh machines

CyborgBLee1.jpgBUL LEE, CYBORG RED (work in progress), 1997. Silicone, paint pigment, steel,160 cm high x 100 cm diameter at base.

I introduce the work of Lee Bul into the weblog for two reasons. The work is currently being exhibited in Australia, and it raises issues about the technological mode of being that we live within and are shaped by.

Lee Bul gained prominence in the late '90s with a series of "Cyborg" sculptures. These hybrid forms, composed of seamlessly fused organic and mechanical motifs, spoke to the increasingly tenuous boundary between body and machine. Lee's silicone cyborgs reference prosthesis, cosmetic surgery and monsters show fragmented female bodies with smooth, closed surfaces.
cyborgLBul3.jpg cyborgLBul2.jpgThese hybrid of machine and organism---cyborg women---are a challenge to Bataille and Klossowski's conception of the body. Bul's female techno-bodies envision identities away from traditional discourse (of de Sade, Bataille and Klossowski)and the technological mastery heralded by patriarchy.

Yvonne Volkart says:

"These headless, one-armed and one-legged figures are not only abnormal, but deeply pornographic, forced into armour-like corsets that emphasise their waists, breasts and buttocks. This series refers visually to avantgarde western male fantasies of machine women and the femininity of machines (especially to Hans Bellmer, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp and Jean Tinguely) as well as to the contemporaneous Japanese manga and Korean animes and the prevalence of young female cyborgs as sexy protagonists."

These cyborg's, which refer back to Fritz Lang's Metropolis, have no faces and therefore no stable identities. Each of the hanging sculptures is a version of itself; a slight variation. They represent the body as a biological replica, open to disassembly and reassembly.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at January 3, 2005 11:01 PM | TrackBack
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