Computers Are A Girl's Best Friend, 2004-ongoing

Computers Are A Girl’s Best Friend is a multi-media project exploring the contradictions between the hyperbolic rhetoric of the computer industry and the dreadfully real effects on the lives of women. Computers Are A Girl's Best Friend counters the sexiness of the computer industry by exposing the truth of the exportation of toxic hazardous electronic waste to Asia and the trafficking of women online, and other extraordinary by-products of the computer revolution on the female subject.

The performance appropriates the 1953 musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes/Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend, introducing the glamorous 'Digital Diva' for a tour of the feminized techno-landscape, through ribald musical theatre interspersed with monologues, video montages and audio of interviews with the Executive Director of the  Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition's Clean Computing Campaign Sheila Davis.

Performed at:
2009 Global Disconnects: The Internet and Human Trafficking
         University of California at Berkeley
2006 Museum of World Culture, Gothenburg, Sweden
2006 ISEA/Zero One Festival, San Jose, California
2005 State University of New York, Albany, New York
2004 The LAB, San Francisco, California
2004 Cyberimaginaries: Decolonizing the Future Conference of Mujeres
         Activas en Letras y Cambio Social, Seattle, Washington

2004 PREMIERE: STUDIO XX, Montreal, Canada

Performance Stills v.2
August 10, 2006

ISEA Zero One Festival
MACLA, San Jose
photos by Trevor Paglen


The costume from this performance
- made from recycled CD Roms -
on exhibition:
Eco-Visions: Bay Area Artists Exploring Global Ecological Issues,

at the Gallery at Thoreau, the Thoreau Center for Sustainability, San Francisco;

and below, in
WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE?: Chicano / Latino Whimsy, Parody, Satire and Humor
exhibition at Galería de la Raza,
San Francisco.

This project is based on extensive research into gender and access to communications technologies and interviews with:

Anne Balsamo, whose first book, Technologies of the Gendered Body (Duke UP) examined the gendered implications of emergent bio-technologies. She is working on a new book called Designing Culture: A work of the Technological Imagination that investigates the reproductive qualities of new media technologies. Currently she is the President of Onomy Labs, professor in Gender Studies and Interactive Media at the University of Southern California and director of academic programs for the Annenberg Center’s Institute of Multimedia Literacy.

Paulina Borsook is the author of the forthcoming Wired for Sex: An Illustrated Guide to Sex, Technology, and the Way We Live Today (Peachpit/2004) and of Cyberselfish/A Critical Romp through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High-Tech" (Public Affairs/2000). Her fiction, humor, essays, and journalism, as published in "Wired", "Suck", "Mother Jones", "Salon", and "The New York Times", have entertained, enlightened, and in some cases, enraged her readers for more than a decade. She is at loris@well.com

Sheila Davis has worked on electronic recycling and environmental sustainability issues for the past eight years. While Community Development Director for Materials for the Future Foundation (MFF) Davis worked to integrate environmental and community economic development goals, implemented the first curbside residential collection pilot program for electronic waste and was instrumental in implementing a ban on televisions and computer monitors from California municipal landfills. Currently, Davis serves as Project Director of the Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition

Performance stills v.1
June 18, 2004

The LAB, San Francisco
Video: Trevor Paglen

Related Texts:

Cyber.Labia Series and book.


Many thanks to the LAB, the Tinkerer's Workshop, Martin Franco, Trevor Paglen, Rene Garcia, Sue Hutchinson, Katherine Mezur, Zhivka Valiavicharska and to Anne Balsamo, Paulina Borsook and
Sheila Davis for their help in developing this project.

This project has received generous support from the Puffin Foundation.