Artist Statement

January 24, 2022

People in academia usually write a “research statement” to elaborate what their research focuses on. It’s a useful exercise as the very process of writing it down helps clarify the vision.

Here is my exercise as an artist. My draft artist statement.

I imagine it to be constantly evolving. But here is a beginning.

I had a eureka moment last summer at the Met. When I saw the New Woman Behind the Camera exhibit. The photos were interesting but even more so the curation.

The curators followed the role of photography in different chapters, including: (1) self portrait (2) studio (3) street and city (4) experimental techniques (5) ethnography (6) fashion (7) reportage / social documentary (8) body and modern dance.

Crucially, camera became “a means of independence and self-determination” and allowed women “to create images from their own perspective and also allowed them to create a source of income to support themselves financially”.

I think data, code, algorithms, technology played the same role for me. Similar to photography, the internet and mobile in the past decade created yet another information revolution.

For me, and many other women, coding became a a means of independence. It is through coding that I am able to support myself, from the comfort of the environment of my choosing. It is an immensely powerful feeling, yet the tech world is filled with all kinds of inequalities.

One would imagine coding is a job where gender identities shouldn’t play any role. We are just moving our fingers at the end of the day, right? But why are the gaps wider than ever?

As Simone de Beauvoir quoted Engel in the Second Sex:

Woman cannot be emancipated unless she takes part in production on a large social scale and is only incidentally bound to domestic work. And this has become possible only within a large modern industry that not only accepts women’s work on a grand scale but formally requires it.

Therefore I code, to participate to the construction and production of this more and more digitally-mediated world. Professionally it gives me direct impact on the technology used by billions of people, and the financial means to be independent.

But that’s not enough. Because culture is even harder to change. And that’s art’s role for me. To say the things that matter and to challenge the way we think about people and the world.

Therefore I code for art. Because I have something to say. I want to participate. And I want to warm or change people’s heart. And I truly thank you for hearing me out.

References

  1. The Photographs that Women Took. New Yorker.
  2. The New Woman Behind the Camera. The Met.

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research engineer by day. generative artist by night.
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