Today, we take you to Paris for a studio visit with French artist ORLAN. Surrounded by her books, sculptures, paintings and photographs, we talk about her evolving relationship with technology. Beginning in the 1960s with painting and photography, ORLAN became known for making herself the subject of her work and imposing her will on technology. She made her first film in the 1970s. In 1993, she rented a satellite signal and invited the world to watch live as she underwent plastic surgery to enhance her body.
ORLAN acknowledges she could never have imagined the technology that has transformed her life and her art. One of her earliest tech experiments involved creating an event for artists, poets and musicians to invent projects for the Minitel, precursor of the world-wide web. ORLAN emphasizes that technology is only one of the tools that allows her to explore social issues. In a recent project, ORLAN responds to the absence of the female body in the Peking Opera. In a cultural space that excludes women performers, the artist inserts her animated avatar using an augmented reality application. The application is embedded in a set of photographic portraits that feature ORLAN wearing different opera masks. Viewers with the app can watch the avatar perform in front of the portraits. ORLAN intends to keep evolving in her practice, adopting new technologies that allow her to openly explore and comment on the status of women.
In fact, the artist proposes to make her life’s work fit into the palm of your hand…
This episode is supported in part by ArtSeeker, a mobile app that connects collectors with buyers using geo-location technology.
Sound editor: Alyssa Moxley | featured audio track: ORLAN’s 1984 film Mise-en-scene pour un grand fiat | Voice Over translation: Emilia Garth | Written translation: Chadd Kortge, NY director, Artseeker | Photos courtesy ORLAN and Fresh Art International, as noted in photo gallery