Experiencing Interruptions?

The Burden of Selfhood

The Burden of Selfhood is an interdisciplinary video artwork exploring the intersection of feminism, identity, consumerism and technology. By connecting methods from cognitive science, music, poetry, video and performance art, via interactive technology and experimental documentary the five female artists who create the work investigate the experience of viewing and being viewed as a gendered body.

Inspired by the proliferation of makeup tutorial videos on the YouTube platform, we began our research by analyzing a collection of videos representing a diversity of human ages, gender identities and ethnicities. These sources illustrate the drastic measures women (and some men) will take to augment or alter the landscape of their faces in pursuit of societal ideas of perfection. With an empirical lens, we invited eighteen research subjects into the laboratory to view a sample of videos while we tracked their eye-movements and facial reactions. Following contextual interviews with each subject, we performed thematic and linguistic analyses to construct data visualizations exposing aspects of the original source dialogue with the corresponding effects on individuals who view them. The eye-gaze data, combined with narrative response and interview excerpts were contextualized and integrated into multimedia documentary content, critically deconstructing what is often overlooked by media creator-consumers.

NOTE: the video can be shown in a traditional video screening setting, or as a video installation with a performance component of projection mapping digital makeup application onto a performer's face as the finale.

  • Fernanda Navarro
  • Stefani Byrd
  • Amy Fox
  • Heidi Kayser
  • Sarah Ciston
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short, Web / New Media
  • Genres:
    Experimental, Female Films, Art Installation, Video Art, Socially Engaged, Feminist Film
  • Runtime:
    29 minutes 17 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 20, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    2,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Ecologies of Transformation: 2019 ACM Conference for Creativity and Cognition
    La Jolla, CA
    United States
    June 25, 2019
Director Biography - Fernanda Navarro, Stefani Byrd, Amy Fox, Heidi Kayser, Sarah Ciston

Fernanda Aoki Navarro is a composer who works
with instrumental and electronic music and has been
exploring performance art and installation. She recently completed her PhD in Composition at UC San Diego and is engaged with promoting experimental music as a producer and curator of concerts and music festivals.

Stefani Byrd’s artistic practice includes video
installation, new media, and interactive technologies.
She is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas and holds a Masters Degree from the University of California San Diego..

Amy Rae Fox is an information designer and doctoral
student in Cognitive Science at UCSD. Her research
examines the relationship between external
representations and cognitive activity, exploring how
how representations of abstract concepts engender
novel insights, pushing the boundaries of human
conceptual processing.

Heidi Kayser's interdisciplinary work interweaves
sculpture with performance, fashion, photography,
drawing and digital media and examines the
relationship between body and self-image. She holds a Masters Degree in Visual Art from UC San Diego.

Sarah Ciston is an experimental writer and media
artist named one of San Francisco Weekly's "Best
Writers Without a Book." She holds an MFA in Hybrid
Literature from UC San Diego and is an Annenberg
Fellow in Media Arts + Practice at University of
Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.

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Director Statement

A collaborative hybrid media production where all artists contributed equally in the work's creation