Revaluing Women’s Labor through Material Engagement with Musical Instruments Built from Domestic Tools

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Politics of Sentience: Activism and Labor

Presentation Title:

  • Revaluing Women’s Labor through Material Engagement with Musical Instruments Built from Domestic Tools

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • The Women’s Labor project uses embedded technologies to transform domestic tools into new musical instruments. Traditionally relegated to the private sphere, domesticity is recast in a new light through public engagement and performative spectacle in installations, workshops and performances. Women’s Labor is a multi-stage, ongoing conversation between the public and artists to interrogate issues surrounding feminism and domesticity. In this social activist artistic project, we revalue traditionally unpaid labour of women by placing it in public spotlight and interactivity.

    These stages are: 1) instrument creation; 2) public installations; 3) community workshops; 4) commissioned compositions by female-identifying composers on the instruments with “female-friendly” historical instruments (clavichord and fortepiano); and 5) public performance of the new compositions with past female composers’ works. The instruments created for Women’s Labor include the Embedded Iron, the Umbrella Rotary Dryer , and the Embroidery Hoop that are in various stages of completion.

    This paper focuses on the first completed instrument, the Embedded Iron, a sensor-filled 3D printed clothes iron modeled on an old fashioned coal iron, paired with a wooden ironing board with built-in speakers. The team for Women’s Labor consists of artistic director and project creator, Jocelyn Ho, UX designer and composer, Margaret Schedel, and technical director, Matthew Blessing. With its first sound installation and performance at the UCLA Art-Sci Gallery this year, this paper will discuss the Embedded Iron’s conception and task of bringing light to domesticity through material engagement theory, expanding sentience through tools.


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