This lecture begins by considering the idealization of women in literature of the nineteenth century. It is well documented that women were synonymous with nature and love, seeming to cast them outside systems of cultural value.
We trace the symbolic function of woman in modern systems of automation and consider her labor within them. Sadie Plant would establish a link between feminization and automation. This link is made more recently by Helen Hester who claims that today "feminized labor" becomes technologized labor, exposing tasks previously dismissed by association with women’s work. Indeed, she suggests that machines are more visible as workers than women.
Association with love and nature may mean that, historically, women's work has been more easily reasoned away. Yet women's increasing visibility as the functionaries of technological systems will be seen in relation to the evolving characteristics of automation in digital contexts.
Lee Mackinnon is a lecturer in Photographic Histories and Visual Culture at the Arts University in Bournemouth, UK. Recent essays feature in What’s (Love) Got to Do With It? (forthcoming from e-flux/Sternberg Press) and Algorithmic Life: Calculative Devices in the Age of Big Data (Routledge, 2015). Lee is a contributor to Third Text Journal. Her visual work has featured at the Bloomberg Space in London; Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum, Denmark; Exploding Cinema; and mottomotto records.
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