Melissa Jordan for Ampersand, Women and Performance Journal
You Should Have the Body
Three days ago, I heard this Latin translation – habeas corpus, you should have the body. It got me thinking about how impossible this sounds as an open statement, to "have the body," whether we are talking about our own body and forming it accordingly, or having another body (you should have). Type it into Google and you should have the body with its criminal implications progresses within a few links to searches for body smell, body language, detox, fitness, and tuberculosis.
The pulling apart of a screen with a thumb and forefinger, the doubletap, the zoom, the hold, the swipe, the drag. These gestures take on new meanings when you think of the form beneath/inside/under the screen — as a body. Our anatomy, our nouns and signifiers alongside tactility are forced into new, inextricable relationships. For example, our computers, phones, and tablets become more physical through excessive use when they overheat.
I watched a TV program called Sex Slaves, which focused on a series of women who were for sale online in the United States. Throughout the series, crawling out from behind closed doors and cubbyholes, there is a jumping camera, truncated limbs, bare legs and long hair, fuzzed out faces.
Originally from Google image searches, this photo series reconsiders the impenetrable nature of the computer screen and the fetishization of the female form. There is something horribly endless about the Google image search. These works look at the space of the screen as a divisive place – a membrane that prevents closeness. Compressed into a single new surface, the image is recreated with sculptural plasticity often highlighting the image’s original flatness. The photos are weighed down; they are the recipients of the light distortion that grains across a liquid-crystal display. Like a fingerprint pressed against the screen, the contours swerve and join again across the dual-formed images. The bodies are intentionally faceless. Physical distance and intimacy interlock in vulnerable and violent tones. With the sharp cut down the center, the bodies— sprawling, broken—are endlessly reconfigured over the surfaces of our screens. How do we have a body?