Uploaded on Jun 29, 2010
Installation with video (color, sound), screens, and printed panels, 3:24 min., dimensions variable;
Device: aluminum, electronics, and acrylic
13 3/8 x 13 13/16 x 13 3/8" (34 x 35 x 34 cm)
Courtesy the artist and Scai the Bathhouse, Tokyo.
It's 2010, so why are humans still menstruating?
As a female artist I had one intriguing question I wanted to solve.
When the contraceptive pill first became commercially available in the 1960s, it was deliberately designed to have a pill-free, menstruating week every month. This was because the doctors felt that users would find having no periods too worrying and unacceptable. 50 years have passed since then, and modern technology has accomplished even more -- space travel, mobile phones, internet, cloning and genetically modified foods -- but women are still bleeding. New pills such as Lybrel and Seasonique, which reduce the frequency of menstruation to none or 4 times a year have recently been developed, but they are not yet widely used.
For example in Japan, it only took the Ministry of Health only 6 months to approve Viagra, but it took them more than 9 years to approve the contraceptive pill in 1999 (which was approved 3 months after the approval of Viagra). It is quite clear that the advancement of technology can be heavily influenced by political, social and cultural backgrounds of the time.
So what does Menstruation mean, biologically, culturally and historically, to humans? Who might choose to have it, and how might they have it? The Menstruation Machine -- fitted with a blood dispensing mechanism and electrodes simulating the lower abdomen -- simulates the pain and bleeding of a 5 day menstruation process. The machine was developed with research support from Professor Jan Brosens at the Department of Medicine, Imperial College London.
The music video features a Japanese transvestite boy Takashi, who one day chooses to wear 'Menstruation' in an attempt to biologically dress up as a female, being unsatisfied by just aesthetically appearing female. He builds and wears the machine to fulfill his desire to understand what the period feels like for his female friends. The music video was posted on Youtube to trigger reaction from a wide audience outside of the traditional gallery environment. The video was immediately posted on influential blogs including Wired, Gizmodo and Boing Boing, and the story of Takashi's desire to have menstruation created a viral frenzy of debates, resulting in 100000 Youtube hits in mere one week.