My research and resultant art work address the perception of the socially-constructed gender binary through the use of a cybernetic body and the idea of a fluid and contingent self. The gender theories of Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto, proposes the cyborg as a constructed being that lacks any genetic signifiers of sex or gender. She argues that the cyborg is a metaphor for a third recombinant gender. This idealized organism is neither male, nor female since it is built to represent the inner identity of the being and fully realized. As a constructed being, the biological gender is removed and is replaced with the identity of a person. Although veneered in an armored shell that exhibits some gendered characteristics, these cyborgs exhibit elements of androgyny that blur distinctions between male and female.
Because being human is more than being the corporeal body, an identity is defined by inner and outer influences of life. Individual identity can be constrained by social constructions, in particular the concept of gender. The concept of “self” removes biological ties; it indicates what it means to simply be. Given complete control to construct one’s physical body, how would they reflect who they feel they are through it? My work proposes a constructed being, originally born into the world, but given control to choose their avatar. These figures represent the psychological self in a shell that is devoid of gender stereotypes.
Rob Kolhouse recieved his BFA from Indiana University, and in 2014 his MFA from the University of Florida. Heavily influenced by Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto and the cyberpunk classic Ghost in the Shell, his is figure sculptures investigate constructed gender using the cyborg. In addition to his sculpture he produces a line of vessels with irreverent characters on them. Currently he is faculty at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.