[ISEA94] Paper: Joan Truckenbrod – Gender Issues in the Electronic Arts: Inform the Creation of New Modes of Computing


The electronic arts have their roots in the gendered society of the computer culture. This culture is comprised of a vocabulary, conceptual structures and strategies that reflect the male subculture of computer hardware and software developers. The social construct of computing embodies a male orientation to the technical personality of the computing machine, the knowledge and skills necessary to utilize this machine, and the political, commercial, and militaristic apllications that have been developed. Consequently, women are “outsiders”. In confronting the gendered character of computing, women have developed ways of using computers differently from the prescribed modes. Creative computer usage comes about through the process of women changing what is for them unsatisfying modes of working.

As in scientific computing, women in the electronic arts negotiate with computing different than men, and consequently have established different ways of injecting the computer into the creative process. These methods inform the evolution of new forms of art as well as computing. One alternative form of computing is a relational model that promotes a nonlinear process of exploration and experimentation, with interactive negotiating; visually, gesturally and verbally.
The structural relationships are not predefined and thus stimulate the viewer to choose their own points of view, to create their own connections and establish their own direction. The
computer becomes a catalyst. A second model is one of kinaesthetics in which the computer is capable of providing opportunities for integrated sensory experiences, facilitating a complete interplay of all of the senses. The computer is a multidimensional studio environment. A third model of computing is one in which software and hardware can be personalized by each individual user. Each of us must be able to arange and personalize our own working environment like we do our studio, our kitchen, or our garden. In addition, software should be intelligent enough to generate processes and functions that are described by the user. A final alternative model for computing uses structures and processes from nature as a model for computing. These models integrate the female voice and a feminist perspective into computing, creating a pluralistic environment.

  • Joan Truckenbrod exhibits her artwork internationally. She recently was invited to give a
    presentation at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London at a conference on Cyberspace and the Arts. She has received a grant to work collaboratively with the faculty at the Department of Media and Information Science, Aarhus University, in Denmark, on an interactive multimedia project. Ms. Truckenbrod is on the faculty at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA, and is Chair of the Time Arts Department.