Lynn Hershman Leeson In All Her Cyborg Glory
Exhibition Review
Aug 2, 2021
Cassie Packard

Artist Lynn Hershman Leeson began divulging her personal traumas and anxieties on video in 1984, one year after the release of what is widely considered the first commercial camcorder and nearly a decade before MTV’s The Real World popularized the reality TV confessional. In intimate recordings interspersed with news clips, she discussed instances of childhood abuse, a brain tumor diagnosis, and more, her face occasionally self-replicating and splintering off into smaller screens, suggesting a mediated self both formed and deformed by its own iterative archiving. The artist’s most epic project, The Electronic Diaries (1984-2019), occupied Hershman Leeson for decades, capturing a changing person, in a changing world, recorded on changing technology. Increasingly, the Diaries incorporated her conversations with leading scientists and bioethicists about recent developments in technology, namely genetic engineering, that might open avenues for new kinds of personhood.