Thursday, October 14, 2010
Who makes digital art (and what to do they make)? Reinforcing the male gaze in cyberland
Apparently digital photographers and artists are all dudes who spend most of their time either creating cyboronic babes or photographing beautiful women and then retouching their skin. These magazine covers reinforce the idea that men dominate the technological sector, whether that be in digital photography, photoshop, or as avatar artists. By putting babes on their covers, not only do they reinforce the assumed male gaze and boy-culture of the technorati, but in sexing them up they implicitly say: "our consumers are lonely gamer dudes who whack off to Lara Croft." Gamers, fight back - don't buy into the stereotype of yourself as male nerds with sperm covered keyboards! You could be so much more.
These magazine covers also reinforce the disturbing trend of the submissive female cyborg (better know as a fembot). This reoccurring figure can be seen in Svedka vodka, Heinken, and Philips ads. There's also been a series of Axe ads airing on Canadian television where a boy wakes up and has a team of female-machine hybrids buff and shave him (as if he was a car going through a wash) to start his day. These ads are disturbing because they position embodied technology as female, subservient and invisible. In these fantasies, feminized technology exists to support their male masters while the men often go about their day using the technology without even acknowledging the system of support that the fembots are giving him. Strange links to Habermas' construction of the public citizen as predicated on the work done in the invisible and domestic private sphere? I think so. The fembots of Philips and Axe ads are so invisible, they melt into the background - straddling the threshold between object and subject so well, that they basically create a vaguely sexualized landscape by their presence (because landscapes are never sexualized).
Also, let it be noted that these magazines are placed near implicitly male magazines, focusing mostly on nature, business, and cars. Ms, Bitch, BUST, Herizons and the Canadian Women's Studies Journal were all tucked beside TeenVogue at my local suburban Chapters.
Oh, occasionally Digital Photographer will have a front cover featuring a sprawling landscape. Bully for them.
Scrawl through the back issues here: