Women and Media, Then and Now: Ericka Beckman, Dara Birnbaum, Lynn Hershman Leeson in conversation with Emily Watlington
Jun 6, 2018
Emily Watlington

EMILY WATLINGTON: You all approach representations of women in mass media through a variety of means. I am thinking of Lynn’s Deep Contact (1984), an interactive laserdisc that invites people to touch a female character’s body, and she responds. Dara, I’m thinking of your MTV Artbreak (1987), which shows a brief history of animated representations of women, and of course Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman (1978-1979). Ericka, your films Cinderella (1986) and Hiatus (1999/2015) both reject the trope of the damsel in distress through women video-game protagonists who confront rules. What prompted each of you to take on this subject?

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: All of my work questions conditions of inequality and censorship. The characters often overcome inherited cultural restrictions, and through the process reverse the prohibition of verbal expression. The use of interactive narrative structures was, for me, a way of democratizing the medium itself by encouraging choice, which simultaneously created a political potency…