By Kim Toffoletti
Bringing a full of life and obtainable type to a fancy topic, Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls explores the belief of the "posthuman" and the ways that it's represented in pop culture. Toffoletti explores photographs of the posthuman physique from goth-rocker Marilyn Manson's digitally manipulated self-portraits to the well-known TDK "baby" advertisements, and from the paintings of artist Patricia Piccinini to the interestingly "plastic" kind of the ever-present Barbie doll, controversially rescued right here from her damaging photograph.
Drawing at the paintings of thinkers together with Baudrillard, Donna Haraway and Rosi Braidotti, Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls explores the character of the human - and its ambiguous gender - in an age of biotechnologies and electronic worlds.
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Additional resources for Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls: Feminism, Popular Culture and the Posthuman Body
By drawing parallels between computer and human elements, the distinction between organism and machine is confused, and the very nature of self is questioned. Although the computer–human interaction has opened up new ways to think about the self, there is still a pervasive tendency to secure human identity as something that can be differentiated from a machine. The characteristics that are commonly deﬁned as essential to being human, such as emotion and intuition, are the qualities computers as supposedly unable to emulate.
In turn, the ﬁxed nature of signifying practice is replaced by a far more uncertain system. To paraphrase Baudrillard, a representational economy of simulation is ‘swamped by indeterminacy’ (Baudrillard 1993: 2). In this context, any attempt at making meaning is irrelevant, as we can’t distinguish between objects and signs with any conﬁdence. It is the ‘forms whose ﬁnalities have disappeared’ (Baudrillard 1993: 2) that now constitute the value system of a postmodern technosociety and inform our visual experiences.
In critical debates about technology, feminist theory has explored the beneﬁts and limitations of technology for conﬁgurations of the subject, particularly the female subject. It has done this by, amongst other things, questioning established categories such as organic and artiﬁcial, nature and machine, man and woman, mind and body. Although this strategy has been valuable for exposing the gendered assumptions that underpin techno–human interactions, it tends to position women as either victims of technology or liberated by it.