With the evolution of feminist discourse in art history, the sexual and gender biases latent within Western culture have come under scrutiny. If we believe that art is a document of the time when and place where it was produced, then much can be learned about the social mores of those artists’ Geists.





The two images above reflect more contemporary perspectives on the body and technological society. The first by Marcel Duchamp titled Nude Descending a Staircase, 1912, documents the mechanization of the process of bodily movement. All that is human such as face, skin, muscles, and bones have been reduced, objectified and fragmented, into an assemblage of geometric, robotic parts. The later example by the female photographer, Mariko Mori, titled Pratibimba I, 1998, is intended to re-present traditional and contemporary icons of Asian femininity. The photo evokes the Asian patriarchal stereotype of women as docile. Yet here, Mori has introduced elements of the mechanical or technological. Her objectified female has become the modern cyborg-goddess, a new visualization of the mechanized female as amicable, fashionable, and ready to be plugged in. Is this image any different from Ingres’ portrait of a harem slave? No. The accessories have changed to reflect evolving tastes and cultural issues. Yet, Mori has conspired in her own objectification and fragmentation. Her “modern” woman is without soul or intellect, just another thing to be looked at.