Intermedia Art

New Media, Sound and Performance

Lynn Hershman Leeson    

For thirty-five years, San Francisco artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson has explored vision, spectacle, spectatorship, and their roles in the construction of sexed subjectivity, touching on key feminist concerns relating to the lived experience of the physical body and the body as a medium on which social law and values are inscribed. Her projects of self-analysis and self mythification explode stable notions of identity. Prolifically expressed in mixed-media, photography, performance, digital art, video, film and interactive multi-media works.

The interwoven narratives evident in Hershman Leeson’s expansive body of work traces influences across the fields of visual art, film and popular culture. Hershman Leeson makes use of digital tools and cinematic metaphors that reflect and mirror culture's shifting ideas on identity, memory and history, mediated through technology.

The work that Hershman Leeson has created through her art is populated by doubles and clones; living on the internet, displayed in galleries and distributed via theatrical release – all of them engaged in the possibilities of constructing identity. Hershman Leeson’s work demonstrates a sustained attention to the construction of the viewer as an active participant in a work of art - engaging with and potentially altering its course - rather than simply acting as a passive voyeur.

Hershman Leeson moved into film in the late 90s, Conceiving Ada 1997, was her first feature film, including not only the invention of virtual sets, but the creation of "The Difference Engine 3", an interactive net based sculpture about identity, that won the Golden Nica at Ars Electronica and is now part of the permanent collection of the ZKM Mediammuseum.

Hershman Leeson’s second feature film, Teknolust 2002, also had an interactive component with Agent Ruby and Dina, which are in the collection now of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Donald Hess. They are art works that use artificial intelligent programming to flesh out parts of the film that were alluded to in the script.

Hershman Leeson has been at the forefront of new media art since the 1970s, developing fluency in digital technologies as they evolved. She has been responsible for a number of technological innovations, including the first interactive computer-based artwork (Lorna, 1979-82) and the first artwork to use touch-sensitive screen technology (Deep Contact, 1984-86).

She is a pioneer in interactive computer and net-based media arts and has won numerous awards, grants and fellowships.

Curing the Vampire

Lynn Hershman Leeson and Tilda Swinton interview Gilberto Gil, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, Larry Lessig and Elena Poniatowska on revolution, empowerment and technology