Lauren Lee McCarthy: Surrogate – Performance In Progress

From MoHA Wiki
Event Info
Date 04.13.23
Time 5:30pm–7pm
Admission Free
Links · Resources
04.06.23 Five Fusebox Shows to Get You Buzzing by Wayne Alan Brenner (Austin Chronicle)

Lauren Lee McCarthy explores how much control should we have over a birthing person’s body, and over a life before it begins?

The Surrogate project began with offering myself in a 40 week performance where I’d serve as a gestational surrogate for a parent who would have an app to monitor and control me 24/7. What I eat, what I do, what thoughts I meditate on, and more. The parent would have complete control over the body in which their baby is growing. What began as a speculative proposal became real when a close friend communicated her desire to enact this with me.

We followed our desire to perform this remote-control surrogacy as far as possible through an intense process working with doctors, psychologists, fertility specialists, surrogates, doulas, midwives, and geneticists. It involved designing the Surrogate app, searching sperm donor databases, completing psychological evaluations and health exams, freezing embryos, talking with family, and ongoing correspondence with each other. Upon reaching the difficult moment where the surrogacy was shut down by the medical-industrial complex, I expanded the work into a series of short films, performances, and installations that tell the story of what happened.

This deeply personal work offers my body as physical, emotional, and conceptual surrogate for understanding reproduction and technology’s role in it. The act of becoming a remote control surrogate serves as a metaphor for the control we may soon hold through processes of genetic engineering, as well as the immediate infringement on our bodily autonomy enacted by the legislation of reproductive rights worldwide.

About Lauren Lee McCarthy Lauren Lee McCarthy (she/they) is an artist examining social relationships in the midst of surveillance, automation, and algorithmic living. She has received grants and residencies from Creative Capital, United States Artists, LACMA, Sundance New Frontier, Eyebeam, Pioneer Works, Autodesk, and Ars Electronica. Her work SOMEONE was awarded the Ars Electronica Golden Nica and the Japan Media Arts Social Impact Award, and her work LAUREN was awarded the IDFA DocLab Award for Immersive Non-Fiction. Lauren's work has been exhibited internationally, at places such as the Barbican Centre, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Haus der elektronischen Künste, SIGGRAPH, Onassis Cultural Center, IDFA DocLab, Science Gallery Dublin, Seoul Museum of Art, and the Japan Media Arts Festival.

Lauren is also the creator of p5.js, an open-source art and education platform that prioritizes access and diversity in learning to code, with over 1.5 million users. She expands on this work in her role on the Board of Directors for the Processing Foundation, whose mission is to serve those who have historically not had access to the fields of technology, code, and art in learning software and visual literacy. Lauren is a Professor at UCLA Design Media Arts. She holds an MFA from UCLA and a BS Computer Science and BS Art and Design from MIT.