As a half-Asian man, I have been dealing with stereotypes my entire life. To be able to build my own avatar is a science fiction dream, but one I can envision through ceramics. The cyborg, an amalgam of flesh and machine, is a timely metaphor representative of cultural constructs and the intersection of contemporary art through clay. These figure sculptures borrow elements from contemporary imagery and classical styles of art in order to create work that accurately represents diversity in our society.
My research and resultant art work address the perception of the socially-constructed gender binary through the use of a cybernetic body and the idea of a fluid and contingent self. Heavily inspired by the cyberpunk classic Ghost in the Shell and the gender theories of Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto, these works explore the ideas behind a constructed being. Haraway argues that the cyborg is neither truly male, nor female since it is built to represent an inner identity of the being and fully realized. Although veneered in an armored shell that exhibits some gendered characteristics, these sculptures exhibit elements of androgyny that blur distinctions between male and female.
Individual identity can be constrained by social constructions, in particular the concept of gender. Given complete control to construct one’s physical body, how would they reflect who they feel they are through it? My work proposes a constructed being, originally born into the world, but given control to choose their avatar. My work represents the psychological self in a shell that is devoid of gender stereotypes. What is feminine or masculine if the body is not born, but instead is constructed?