Woman x Machine: Angela Goh’s Uncanny Valley Girl

November 6th 2018

Image: Bryony Jackson 

Uncanny Valley Girl by Angela Goh, presented at this year’s Liveworks, plucked us from this world, and repositioned us in a parallel dimension.

The lights dimmed, then were dowsed in a red filter, ominously coating the performer in a red glow as she looked back stern and concrete at the audience. In this red tinted universe Angela Goh has total control. This is her world, and throughout the performance she occupies it in different ways, fluid motions transitioned to vast jolts; plastic spheres spilled from her mouth; industrial fans roared to life; power cords became airborne; flesh bent and manoeuvred to become one with the machine.

This performance feels like a monologue without the aid of spoken words. Goh remains silent while she used the objects in her surroundings to create waves of impact that crashed over the audience. At one point strapping two white plastic cubes to her feet like obtuse stilts, and walked to loom over an audience member. It feels like ages that she stands there, reminding us that time had an odd quality in this place. How long have we been in here fixated on these oddities?

 

Image: Bryony Jackson 

Uncanny Valley Girl draws us in at these crucial moments of connection between audience and performer. Holding our attention transfixed in order to speculate on the gendered conversation about technological development that stands in the corner of social critique.

Angela fused her body with the pieces of hardware she uses in her performance, such as massage chairs, power chords and plasma screen TVs, to tell the story of female labour in the history of technological progress. It’s largely imagined that men performed all the necessary tasks required to plunge us in to the near-automated era we live in today. But this performance made known to us that on the contrary, scores of women, worldwide, have played instrumental roles in the manufacturing of the machines we use in our day-to-day lives.

Image: Bryony Jackson  

In Uncanny Valley Girl Angela takes on the role of something — or someone — between machine and flesh. In doing so, she imagined for us a brooding intersection between woman and machine. It resembled a future — or present — moment in which woman are reconciled with their history to reclaim it and retell it.

 

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