GirlBending is a video art piece about circuit bending as appropriation. The video features clips of circuit bent dolls, which are jump cut and oscillate between humorous, nonsensical, dark, sexual, and deeply creepy in tone. At first, the clips are longer, illustrative of the bends and the output of the dolls. The video speeds up and the camera focuses in on the hands of the benders, manipulating the dolls via switches, buttons and light sensors. Finally, the video settles on one of the darker and more overtly sexual clips. All are sandwiched between an appropriated video tutorial on the ethics of circuit bending--the original only touches on avoiding intervention in irreplaceable electronics.
The intention is to illustrate the ways in which appropriation of hardware and appropriation of the body are not mutually exclusive--just as a category encompassing harmless appropriation may also encompass harmful appropriations. The benders in these clips appropriate a toy, a simulated body, a physical artifact of childhood culture and of girls' culture, and many non-physical artifacts of girls' culture. Some of the men in the video keep things light or use the dolls to juxtapose femininity with harshness and noise; one in particular is explicit in its sexual nature. It it important to note that all hands appear to be men's hands. Circuit bending and digital hardware are a male-dominated field, which is important to keep in mind when the material is symbolically related to women's possessions, their voices and their bodies.
As the artist, I am also appropriating these videos and, in a sense, the work of these circuit benders, by downloading the videos and recombining them for my own politicized purpose. This is even more problematic in my appropriation of the first and last clip of the woman speaking--I'm taking her words and applying them to a message she never explicitly or implicitly endorsed. That is another layer of appropriation, one I feel is less relevant to the work as a whole.
All videos were taken from YouTube. The woman at the beginning and end is from eHow.com but her video was also hosted on YouTube. All videos except for hers were color altered to be washed out for visual unity between the many different quality levels, formats and lighting situations from video to video. The relationship between audio & video is untouched.