Doing It Digitally: Rosalind Brodsky and the Art of Virtual Female Subjectivity

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Steffensen, Jyanni. "Doing It Digitally: Rosalind Brodsky and the Art of Virtual Female Subjectivity." In Reload: Rethinking Women + Cyberculture: [209]-233.

At the beginning of her essay Steffensen states explicitly what she intends to do.

This chapter is an exploration of digital female subjects, cyberfeminism, fembots, and Freud. [...] In it I analyze, from a cyberfeminist, queer, poststructural, and psychoanalytic perspective, a virtual, time-traveling subject called Rosalinda Bodsky. Bodsky (RB) is an evolving fictional construction of Australian Anglo/Polish/Jewish painter and digital artist Suzanne Treister.[1][2] The most sophisticated manifestation of Brodsky to date, one central to my investigation, is a CD-ROM[3] titled ... No Other Symptoms: Time Travelling with Rosalind Brodsky (1999).[4] This hypermedia text was launched [...] at the Freud Museum [...] in Hampstead, North London, in January 2000. The artist's work [...] creates a space in which issues of "insanity" and humor, fetishism and sexuality, subjectivity and technology are negotiated in relation to personal histories/fictions and histories of the twentieth century. My reading suggests ways of approaching this work that might be useful for feminist theorists.

Apart from the extraordinary density and complexity of its multimedia format (text, film, video, sound, music, Treister's painting), No Other Symptoms is composed, postmodernly, almost entirely of intertexts. The matrix engineered by Treister appropriates thematic concerns from cyberpunk fiction (the fiction of a culture saturated by electronic technology), science fiction (with its emphasis on time and space traveling), psychoanalytic discourses on gender, sexuality, and the Oedipal family, political histories and revolutions, and Holocaust narratives of dispossession and genocide. The female cybersubject configured by Treister as agentic, mobile, and polysignified differs significantly from the traditional male-produced female technosubjects in that she is not reproduced as an object of male sexual desire. (Reload p. [209].)

RDE, finishing, 31Jul23