Imagining the Cyborg in Náhuatl: Reading the Videos of Pola Weiss

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Aceves Sepúlveda G. (2015). “Imagining the Cyborg in Náhuatl: Reading the videos of Pola Weiss through Haraway’s Manifesto for Cyborgs.” In Platform: Journal of Media and Communication 6.2, 46–60.

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Video art
Feminist media
Donna Haraway
Pola Weiss

By 1985, when Donna Haraway's essay, "A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology and Socialist-Feminism in the 1980s," presented the cyborg as a hybrid between organism and machine and an alternative model of feminine subjectivity, the Mexican independent media producer Pola Weiss had been challenging normative female experiences and relations between self and technology through her video work for nearly a decade. In this article, I propose to explore Weiss's work through the lens of Haraway's in order to collaborate with recent efforts to locate Weiss's practice more meaningfully in the histories of media arts. By placing particular attention on Weiss's conceptualization of her camera as a hybrid coupling between organism and machine, I use Haraway's Manifesto for Cyborgs to suggest a frame in which to understand Weiss's practice as critique of the dominant intellectual traditions and conventions of representation that have produced and reproduced hierarchies of race, class, sex, and gender difference in exico. In doing so, I also explore how Weiss's experiments with televisual images challenged normative female experiences and relations between self and technology. Ultimately, in proposing Haraway's work as a vehicle through which to understand the work of Weiss, I also seek to find affinities between the two women as they inhabited parallel worlds and shared similar concerns.

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