When Bots and Antibodies Are Art Materials
Jun 18, 2021
The New York Times
Jori Finkel

Saying an artist works across a range of mediums usually means they create videos or photos as well as sculptures, or maybe installations on top of paintings and drawings. Lynn Hershman Leeson has made all of these things and then some: an interactive LaserDisc, an overactive chatbot, a shadowy surveillance system, vials of synthetic DNA. That’s because, for over half a century, she has explored the relationship between the body and technology, suggesting that the self is more porous than we might think. For four years in the 1970s, Hershman Leeson staged real-world interventions by going around San Francisco as a rather hapless character she called Roberta Breitmore. In addition to a blond wig and a flirty red-and-white polka-dot dress, Roberta eventually acquired her own apartment, psychiatrist, interim driver’s license, checking account and other indicators of specificity and adulthood.