Lynn Hershman Leeson

"I've always been good at science."
Interview by Jacky Connolly
Portrait by Fidelis Fuchs

Tille, The Telerobotic Doll, 1995-1998

How do you feel about the representation of woman-machine relationship since Metropolis?
There is a tendency to use the evil robot woman. When you think about reproductive technology and female bodies, again the focus has been on control rather than actualization. I think the whole cyber forms that are going to come in the future are biological, not electronic. All these ways of depicting female robots is not the way it's going to happen.
Yeah, people are already entering into cyborg territory.
Or having their DNA altered. In the United States, you can't use human genes because it's a violation of the 13th Amendment, which is slavery. But in the UK, they don't have those rules, so they took women who had trouble reproducing and they put an extra chromosome in female. They gave birth to 50 babies that had two female and one male chromosome and all their babies will have the three. It’s biological change.
What's your general feeling about genetic engineering?
Our evolution is really shifting very rapidly more than ever before, but we're destroying things. This is a way to survive the pollution, to create things that are alive; like you cross a spider and a goat and it has stronger milk.They're crossing things for reasons that they become more substantial and maybe they'll survive what we've destroyed. I want to talk to a professor at Stanford who thinks that we're entering the last phase of extinction.

Wallpaper Genetically Modified Crops, 2014

Yeah, even if we haven’t been engineered, the food we’re eating has been.
Which is changing people because we don't know what's going to happen. Dolly, the sheep, was obese. Now they're finding that American children are heavy because of the GMOs.
How did you find the people you interviewed for your installation?
There are 130 clips, from about nine scientists. Some of them won the Nobel Prize after I interviewed them, but I knew that they would because of the things that they were doing that nobody else was doing. It’s just research.
Did any of them know about your work?
Yes, the woman who won the Nobel Prize, Elizabeth Blackburn, agreed to be interviewed because she had seen Conceiving Ada. She said she felt like Ada. She found the aging gene and was seeing its relationship to cancer and how it works.
So when are you going to start working on the new film?
We're working on this script which needs one more push and then I want to make it this year.I've been trying to make it for a long time, but I think this is the year because The Infinity Engine will be done.
Who else is going to be in the new film?
I don't know yet. Marilyn Manson said he was interested.
It would be great to have Marilyn Manson in it.
Maybe he'll be the other cat.

From Sex Magazine #10 Spring 2015
Labelled Art