Thursday, 7 July 2011

Norene Leddy, Andrew Milmoe, Ed Bringsd and Melissa Gira. Platforms (part of the Aphrodite project), 2006

These shoes are part of a collection of footwear that have been designed by artists and scientists for sex workers.

Their platform heels are packed with gizmos and gadgets, including GPS tracking, mobile phone technology and the ability to broadcast videos and sound on a built-in screen! As they were developed five years ago they can probably also send you back and forth through time by now.

The idea behind it all is that women can use them as a practical device to promote their business, for example by showing videos or flashing their name on the screen, or, if one of their low-life punters turns out to be of the violent low-life persuasion she can press some buttons on the heels and summon help.

In addition to helping keep sex workers safe, the safety features of these 'social sculptures' are aimed to be a critique of how science and technology research priorities are set. When determining what science and technology projects to develop, moral attitudes and judgements often come into play. These shoes aim to highlight this issue and lead us to question why we pursue what we pursue.

What's also great about this whole project is that the artists responsible are illustrating the way that art can help us to make the best use of emerging technologies and science; in this instance refining them to protect women. This shows that artists can help lead the direction of our research and development, taking us into territories that aren't necessarily driven by targets and profits.

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