Strange Culture

Lynn Hershman gained initial recognition as an earlier conceptual video and media artist who drew upon feminist surrealist qualities. Hershman’s text “Reflections on the Electric Mirror” deals with telepathy and video and is published alongside Rosalind Krauss’ theories of telepathy of video in relation to psychoanalysis, transference, intuition and mirror imaging in Gregory Battcock’s anthology New Video Artists. In “Reflections on the Electric Mirror” Hershman discusses the left and right hand sides of the brain. Then she draws a circuit between the brain to television, then television to the mirroring of reality and psychoanalytic transference. Hershman writes:

“The right side of the brain controls nonsequential, nonanalytic, intuitive impulses. Television has been massaging our right hemispheres, a previously ignored and somewhat atrophied segment of our physiology. And the constant stimulation of our heretofore neglected left lobe appears to have released telepathic and intuitive instincts as well as opening the valve that allows a flow between the two sides.”1

She explores portraiture as something that can be about other people, fiction and faction, as well as alterity, psychological splits in subjectivity and authorial identity in works such as Self Portrait as Another Person. Hershman is one of the most influential media and net-based artists and a precursor to younger artists today such as Hito Steyerl. Hershman explores the intersection of media, capitalism and schizophrenia. As Hershman’s website says, she explores “… the relationship between humans and technology, identity, surveillance, and the use of media as a tool of empowerment against censorship and political repression.” Hershman’s 2009 film Strange Culture resulted in the release of an artist facing a prison sentence of 23 years. Strange Culture demonstrates the impact of surveillance on artists and individuals lives and the ability to misread artworks and basic facts, in the service of mind control, with mind control being a form of telepathy.

  1. Lynne Hershman, “Reflections on the Electric Mirror,” New Artists Video; A Critical Anthology, ed. Gregory Battcock (NY: E. P. Dutton, 1978) 36-9.