South Korean artist Lee Bul has spent more than a decade investigating issues of man and machine, technology and sociocultural context, and art and gender. Multidisciplinary in approach, she first became known for street performances that caught her audience “disarmed” and sculptures that incorporated decaying fish, unusually foregrounding the sense of smell in an art-gallery setting. Her Cyborg Blue and Cyborg Red (both 1997-1998) are sculptures of female cyborgs with missing heads and limbs, inspired by Japanese anime and manga (animated cartoons and comic books) as well as current developments in bioengineering. The artist mines the “in-between” of man and machine through her use of silicone (a material also used in medicine, particularly plastic surgery). Like the cartoon characters that inspired them, her hybrid creatures have superhuman strength, yet they retain traditionally feminine sexual features. Through these feminized beings, Bul questions the supposed gender neutrality of technology. She also examines the male fantasies that have shaped the way technology is interpreted, delving into the interface between art, bioengineering, and feminist social science. Bul’s work was included in the 1999 Venice Biennale.
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biography Lee Bul, Let’s Entertain: Life’s Guilty Pleasures 2000
Lee Bul biography from Let’s Entertain: Life’s Guilty Pleasures, Walker Art Center, 2000.