Acknowledging and reflecting upon the cultural and scientific discourses that shape the notions the female body, this thesis presents a biopolitical feminist work in which a woman controls the motility of spermatozoa through the agency of her thoughts. The intellectual investigation of this project is threefold: 1. to engineer a system that directs the movement of sperm via the signals of brain activity, 2. to communicate the project aesthetically and expressively through art and design, 3. to situate the project philosophically and pose critical cultural questions.
Technologically, this project implements a brain-computer interface, where the electric signals generated by the brain are translated into a system engineered to control the movement of sperm through a phenomenon known as galvanotaxis.
Philosophically, this project is situated within Michel Foucault’s notion of biopolitics, and Donna Haraway's theorization of the body as a material-semiotic actor. While Foucault lays the foundation for exposing the body as a battleground for political power, the ideas of Haraway respond to the inherent gender prejudices of this landscape by disassembling the binary of sex through technology to spark a reimagining of new corporeal futures.
Artistically, this thesis creates an act of female empowerment, responding to political regimes in which women are losing rights related to procreation within her own body. Investigating the body as a medium of culture, this project raises questions as to how we operate in our politically gendered landscape.
Navigating the divergent connections between art and science, this work challenges the viewer to question what is possible. Whereas our biological understanding of sperm is usually deterministic (i.e., as an inherent homing device racing towards the chemical signatures of an egg) or colored by gendered cultural constructs (i.e., its semiotic use in pornography) this project seeks to invert all preconceived notions. By creating a work that is simultaneously technological, functional, and symbolically potent, it seeks to expand our notions of what it is possible, and what is possible to question.