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Dara Birnbaum: Technology / Transformation: Wonder Woman

Opening with a prolonged salvo of fiery explosions accompanied by the howl of a siren, Dara Birnbaum’s Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman (1978-79) shows the secretary Diana Prince changing again and again into the superhero Wonder Woman. By isolating and repeating the moment of transformation – spinning figure, arms outstretched – this landmark work in the history of video and appropriation unmasks the language of television, the mechanisms of gender representation and the technology at the heart of the metamorphosis.

T.J. Demos explores Birnbaum’s pioneering development of the possibilities of video as a medium, situating it historically amidst postmodernist appropriation, media analysis and feminist politics. He proposes a fascinating shift in the positioning of Birnbaum’s work, from an emphasis on her deconstruction of mass cultural ideology to an innovative and newfound consideration of her creative retooling of consumer imagery.