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Blood on the keys

Joni Taylor enters Linda Dement’s In My Gash CD-ROM

Joni Taylor is a Sydney-based freelance writer. She currently edits and writes art and music reviews for the Sydney City Hub.

Interacting with a CD-ROM is, at its most basic, an inane exploration of someone else’s digitally constructed space. In Linda Dement’s CD-ROM In My Gash, the process of navigation is as penetrative and confronting as the work itself. The user, and it is definitely a user here, has a sense of control that borders on sadism, voyeurism and rape. Each click of the mouse leads to a further wound, slit or cut in a virtual skin. The breaking or intentional rupturing of this pristine surface transgresses a natural boundary between the fluids of our bodies and the outside world. In this work there’s almost blood on the keyboard.

Incorporating chilling sounds, bits of video footage, photography and extremely beautiful animation, the work is a direct confrontation with female disembodiment and sexual horror. The point of entry is the “Gash”, slang terminology for vagina, but also representative of a bleeding slit or wound. The user explores the “narratives” of the character LYING UGLY MESS BITCH by entering 4 different Gashes. The directions are simple: “Go Left”, “Go Right” and “Go In”. The process of entering this gaping, bleeding Gash is not an easy one. It reveals fragments of memory, of the pain and the horror contained within. She’s a young girl. A Dirty Whore. A Junkie Masochist. You journey, as if by internal camera probe, through the landscape of the Gash, triggering images and sounds. Flowers, syringes, cigarettes and metal spikes fade in and out of the screen. The sounds are of severing and tearing, desperate pantings and blood tingling wails. The video sequences are evocative of surveillance footage and clandestine filming. Encounters with a bad cop, trashy hotels, stabbing rages and blood drenched bathrooms.

As in a razor blade to the flesh, Dement seems to slice through the physical boundary existing between the screen and the self. Using the sterile mathematical coding of computer software, she has managed to create a totally visceral, ‘wet’ interior realm. The surfaces are slimy and shiny. Sometimes bleeding, sometimes not, there’s a sense of a never-ending secretion. She overturns notions of a ‘nice’ cyberfeminism; being explicitly female but overtly non-erotic, The Gash has been dismembered from the female body. It is now a portal of memory. And it has reclaimed the corporeal.

In My Gash is not easily accessible. Currently awaiting classification, and with the recent draconian net laws, Dement’s work would find it hard to exist on a local server. Sold, with an R-rating, it would fail to work as a satisfactory form of porn. However, In My Gash is a phenomenal piece of digital art. It may soon exist in a gallery space as her previous Cyber Flesh Girl Monster and Tales of Typhoid Mary have. But the real interest lies in whether it’s actually taken home and played along with the not so life-like Lara Croft.

In My Gash was produced in association with the Australian Film Commission. The CD-ROM launch was presented by dLux media arts at the Museum of Sydney, August 29.

Joni Taylor is a Sydney-based freelance writer. She currently edits and writes art and music reviews for the Sydney City Hub.

RealTime issue #34 Dec-Jan 1999 pg. 14

© Joni Taylor; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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