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Themesicon: navigation pathCyborg Bodiesicon: navigation pathDoll-Bodies
The Media/Games of the Doll [1] —From Model to Cyborg.
Contemporary Artists' Interest in Surrealism.
Sigrid Schade


The return of the doll

As was the case in the seventies, in particular since the beginning of the nineties one has been able to observe a more intense inspection by contemporary artists of Surrealist image motifs—mannequin, doll, body fragment, automaton, wax figure—that at the same time comprises a return of the figurative or of body (fragments) to various artistic productions and media, which had hardly played a role in Western art—except in Pop Art—since 1945. [2] In the nineteen-twenties and thirties, the doll—as whole body and as body fragment—was already a projection figure, an «objet trouvé,» which Surrealist artists, male and female alike, used to thematicize the relation between representations, mediality, perception and credibility primarily via the media of photography and film. As a central element of new conditions of production and design even in artistic work, technological development in the nineties led to an intense scrutiny of new digital image processing, which in turn resulted in a resumption of the discussion on the similarity and simulation of human bodies, not only on the part of


artists. The combining of the traditional motif of the doll with the automaton and the animated (or also murderous and dead) android (and the threats they pose) represents one aspect of the history of cyborg fantasies in contemporary media art. [3]

The tradition of dolls and the notion of the uncanny

The mannequin [4] who was thought to be alive—or the doll who was brought to life [5] —represents one of several figurations from the historical tradition of human machines or automatons. [6] Like Pygmalion's sculpture of a woman as a work of art, which in mythical tales allows its artist to advance to the Creator, [7] the doll is an android that can be brought to life through love/projection. Thus it belongs to the tradition of the artificial woman, which in the end is a story about the question of delusion, a story that manifested in mythical tales about perception, painting, sculpture, mediality and their illusionistic effects. [8] For the men who see a living woman in the automaton and fall in love with her, this can either be interpreted as an escape from the ‹real woman› as other or as love of the same (self-love). E.T.A. Hoffmann

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