Toward a collective reconfiguration of uteri imagery across human-machine interactions.
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Uterii is an artistic research questioning the gynecological gaze, its clinical historicity and diverse agencies. The project currently amounts to series of events supplemented by custom-built machines for experimental research around uterus visualization. The project’s resources, process, artefacts and technical files are accessible online, via a digital archive (www.uterii.hotglue.me) and offline, throughout public interventions. This paper unpacks the distinct layers constitutive of the project thru looking at its critical context, its aim and motivation beside a reflection on its past, present and future elaboration.
I began this project with the intention to unpack, reveal and reconfigure uteri gynecological visualization by means of human-machine interactions informed by Lucy Suchman theories on human-machine reconfiguration[i]. Further, Uterii methodology involves an active participatory process subsequently unfixing its research format by way of developing through practice. This report is testament to this troubled process and the ambiguities which emerged along the course of collective uteri harvesting, reshaping, assembling and compounding.
Concerned with the re-enactment of phallogocentric discriminations within uterus imagery, I seek, though Uterii, for a reconfiguration of the gynecological imagining apparatus as a form of resistance. Operating on the assumption that gynecological vision prioritizes sight as most efficient sense to gain knowledge, the project argues that seeing uteri as objects of knowledge discriminates their embodied existence meanwhile perpetuating normative discourses on gender and singularity. Influenced by Donna Haraway’s theories on site situated knowledge[ii], I refer to her definition of embodied knowledge as to the idea that knowledge finds its source within the post-anthropocentric body (e.g. human, non-human, organic, mechanic), its location, relationality and historicity. Informed by a technical and critical study of CT scanning, laparoscopy and ultrasonography's image acquisition protocols and through my techno-artistic practice, the project draws attention to the processes by which the female body comes into being as an object of gynecological knowledge. Positioned at the intersection of feminist practice, medical informatics criticism and human-machine reconfiguration (Suchman), this research raises questions about the relationship between the female body and the clinical gaze as they meet at the interface. Notably, Uterii aims to unpack and reflect upon possible bias embedded in image acquisition protocols and what they reveal about obstetric rhetoric. As a matter of scale, the project looks concurrently at computer vision algorithms and the machines through which they operate. (E.g. Gray scaling and thresholding in CT scanning).
Within this theoretical framework, and across its format and methodology, Uterii consists of collective reflections and translations (E.g. events, writings, machine prototypes, codes, drawings and shapes) gathered and shared, online and offline, through an archive and experimental laboratory. As unfixed as my practice (from design to education, curation and currently artistic computation), the project leakages through different academical fields. Embracing the idea of semi-expert knowledge (Haraway), the research relays on endless webs of intertwined discussions among various practitioners, non-practitioners, expert and non. By means of collective encounters, feminist discussions and creative practices, the research explores alternative ways to enact criticism through embodied research, sentient interaction and image modelling. Besides, Uterii’s experimental approach enquires the ambiguities and difficulties of thinking methodologies to form pluri-disciplinary projects within the constrain of academical mono-disciplinary and its neoliberal duration. Luckily, Uterii finds its strength amid the practice of other multidisciplinary artists scholars, such as SubRosa, whose practice insists on the necessity to engage across fields to create relevant projects.
 A CT scan as defined by Oxford dictionary is “An X-ray image made using a form of tomography in which a computer controls the motion of the X-ray source and detectors, processes the data, and produces the image. Also called CAT scan” (Oxford living dictionary, 2019)
 A laparoscopy as defined by Oxford dictionary is “A surgical procedure in which a fibre-optic instrument is inserted through the abdominal wall to view the organs in the abdomen or permit small-scale surgery.” (Oxford living dictionary, 2019)
 Ultrasonography as defined by Oxford dictionary is “A technique using echoes of ultrasound pulses to delineate objects or areas of different density in the body.” (Oxford living dictionary, 2019)
 A grayscale, in computing term, as defined by Oxford dictionary is “ A range of grey shades from white to black, as used in a monochrome display or printout.” (Oxford living dictionary, 2019)
 A threshold value, in computing terms, as defined by McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms is “A point beyond which there is a change in the manner a program executes;” (McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003). Further, in image acquisition protocols it is the value set to define the area of interest to be stored.
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 Suchman, Lucille Alice. Human-Machine Reconfigurations. 2nd ed.., Cambridge University Press, 2007. Lucille Suchman theories on human-machine reconfigurations are of great interest for Uterii project in that they propose a good theoretical framework to understand the role machine can play in that of reconfiguring the human.
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Caroussel 1: Archive of Uterri platform, events, shapes and technological research.
Caroussel 2: Archive of Uterii visual research into laparoscopy, transvaginal ultrasound, 4D ultrasound, Ct-scan and visual experimentations involving machine vision.
Image header: Uterii collage (nb: screenshots are used thourghout the project as means to visualy translate the research).