“I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess”

Gynoids. Pleasure models. Fembots. Bionic women. Borg queens. Stepford wives. Sometimes they’re hot. Sometimes they’re fierce. And yet sometimes, they all start to look the same.

When’s the last time you saw a female robot who didn’t appear to have a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7? Other than Rosie, the robot maid from The Jetsons. This powerful portrait of London-based plus-size model Bea Sweet by digital artist Benedict Campbell (previously on Coilhouse) confronts that question head-on.

It’s great to see a sexy, strong robotic woman who isn’t rail-thin, to imagine a future where robot designers craft something other than Barbies and Kens, or one in which robots design themselves in a way that discards the expectations of their human forbearers. And yeah, loving this doesn’t mean letting go of a deep adoration for Bjork’s All is Full of Love, or, for that matter, Takashi Itsuki’s bruised bondage robot amputees. There’s room for all those things.

A few quotes from Donna Haraway, author of The Cyborg Manifesto:

  • “We are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs.”
  • “A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social relations, our most important political construction, a world-changing fiction.”
  • “The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust.”
  • “Cyborg writing must not be about the Fall, the imagination of a once-upon-a-time wholeness before language, before writing, before Man. Cyborg writing is about the power to survive, not on the basis of original innocence, but on the basis of seizing the tools to mark the world that marked them as other.”
  • “It is no accident that the symbolic system of the family of man – and so the essence of woman – breaks up at the same moment that networks of connection among people on the planet are unprecedentedly multiple, pregnant, and complex.”
  • “The cyborg is a kind of disassembled and reassembled, postmodern collective and personal self. This is the self feminists must code.”
  • “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess”

8 Responses to ““I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess””

  1. SA Says:

    I love this. I’m so tired of the fetishization of store mannequin bodies to the exclusion of all else.

  2. Damien Says:

    I think that this is a wonderful starting point to reconceptualizing what we’re thinking about and what we’re doing, when we start down the whole “Cyborg” path. Too often, we’re anthropomorphising/projecting an ideal based on current conceptions, with no thought as to the fact that the very process of becoming that kind of different thing is going to change us. We will have different ideas about function, form, aesthetics, all of it.

    That being said, I don’t think we have to make as stark a choice between “Goddess” and “Cybernetic Organism” as Haraway suggests. For instance, whereas she says rather cyborg than goddess, Lepht Anonym says rather a curious monster than a “normal human,” and Amber Case believes that we’re all cyborgs, already.

    So who says we have to choose between these options? Who says that technomancy/-paganism, grinder ideals, and a love of recursive and reflexive systems can’t all interconnect, interpenetrate, and co-sustain?

    Personally, I believe that anyone who says that we can’t be naturally connected, environmentally sustaining, reflexively adapting, heavily modified individual members of a collective society which is, at once, capable of altering its environment to ensure its survival and reluctant to have to do so, suffers from a failure of imagination. And while Haraway herself presents a need to remove from this exclusive Either/Or binary, I feel she plays into it with one of her most well-known quotes.

  3. dr.hypercube Says:

    Hooray for Haraway – not only cyborgs, but critters too: The Companion Species Manifesto. She’s a dog trainer and was a friend of Vicki Hearne. Wowza. I look forward to a networked, interlinked future w/ my dogs and birds – trans/interspecies cyborgism now!

  4. the ninja Says:

    This entire site is made up of bonds of affinity.

    Portrait makes me think of Molly Miillions but without the bloodlust

  5. Jo Adams Says:

    When you think about it, ‘rail-thin’ fembots make a kind of sense, design-wise; they’d be lighter, perhaps, and use less materials, so would be cheaper to construct. But this leads me to think that ‘super-heavy’ models would require superior engineering to cope with the extra weight, and would cost still more for the additional metal. So would owning/becoming a gynoid with girth become a symbol of affluence?

  6. dr.hypercube Says:

    Jo Adams – might be an opportunity to resurrect a moribund brand name – one that originally was synonymous with leaking fluids everywhere – Hummer?

  7. marz* Says:

    it looks like if Björk actually ate her other self in that All Is Full Of Love (Chris Cunnigham) video… hot. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjI2J2SQ528

  8. Vander Says:

    0.7 hip to waist ratio is considered the “golden ratio” of beauty which is mathematically considered to be most pleasing in all cultures. It doesn’t matter whether you weigh 105 or 205, any given person can have it. Both Marylin Monroe and the Venus of Milo have an 0.7 hip to waist ratio.
    Nothing to do with pounds, simply the overall shape of your body.

    With that being said, I love the fact that more and more people are starting to realize that cyborgs should be as different as different as people are.