Published by Hatje Cantz. Edited by Peter Weibel. Text by Andreas Beitin, Pamela Lee, Peggy Phelan, Ruby Rich, Jeffrey Schnapp, Kyle Stephan, Kristine Stiles, Tilda Swinton, Peter Weibel. Interview by Hou Hanru, Laura Poitras.
American artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson (born 1941) is among the first and most influential of media artists. During the past five decades she has achieved pioneering work in the fields of photography, video, film, performance, installation, and interactive and net-based media art. Her works have been shown in over 200 large-scale exhibitions, and constitute parts of noteworthy museum and private collections. First working in drawing and sculpture, Hershman Leeson turned to performance and conceptual art in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her most influential performance work is Roberta Breitmore (1973–78)—the fictional character that she, and then three subsequent female personas, enacted in real time and space, using various artifacts of the period. Roberta Breitmore’s conceptual idea of fractured identity and multiplicity of contemporary life anticipated the exploration of surrogate identities that flourished in the digital and virtual worlds several decades later. Hershman Leeson’s investigation of identity and various modes of surveillance developed into a variety of works, ranging from Lorna (1983–84), one of the first interactive projects on video disc, to Teknolust (2002), which addressed cyber-identity, artificial intelligence, cloning, and the decoupling of sexuality and human reproduction. In her most recent works, Hershman Leeson includes robots, mass communication media such as smart-phones, as well as the latest scientific developments in the fields of genetics and regenerative medicine, including 3D bioprinters that create human body parts. This first comprehensive monograph on Hershman Leeson’s work is compiled in close collaboration with the artist.