TECH IN WOMEN: MUSIC FOR EGGS

(2018–ongoing)

Babypod intravaginal speaker, mp3 player, headphones


Music for Eggs, the first work in the series Tech in Women (see below), is a string quartet for human egg cells, to be played to them on the Babypod, an intravaginal speaker designed for gestating fetuses. Babypod was developed based on the long-standing assumption that music, particularly Western classical music, stimulates children’s intellectual and cultural development. This belief has led to products such as albums for babies (e.g. Baby Beethoven), and more recently has been leveraged as the rationale for commercial technologies that play music to children before they are even born. 

Pregnancy speaker devices such as Babypod have reinforced societal pressures on women to be “good” mothers at continuously earlier stages of childhood development, and have privileged particular conceptions of “culture.” As a response, Music for Eggs pushes these technologies and their associated expectations to their logical extreme, by using them to play music to eggs that have not yet been fertilized. Commissioning a string quartet, an iconic medium for Western classical music, Livio closely collaborated with the composer to ensure that the piece is what she would want her eggs to hear. Through this gesture, she also considers women’s broader relationship to the expectations of motherhood—as most or perhaps all of her eggs will die—and pays reverence to those eggs which will never become fertilized.

With:
Leslee Smucker (violin), Magee Capsouto (violin), Allyson Stibbards (viola), Cecilia Swanson (cello), JP Merz (composition)


Notes:
  • Recipient of Eloise Timmons Memorial Graduate Student Award
  • Recipient of Beverly Sears Graduate Student Grant
  • The first instantiation of this work was exhibited in the Embryonic exhibition at NEST, Colorado, September 21–December 21, 2018.



TECH IN WOMEN

(2018–ongoing)

Tech in Women, named as a playful response to popular discourse on “women in tech.” The project consists of a curated collection of devices, scholarly research and writing, and associated works. The collection centers on technologies designed for women’s bodies, beginning with reproductive and menstrual technologies, and particularly focused on the recent proliferation of networked and wearable devices such as vaginal exercisers and speakers for playing music to fetuses.

Tech in Women not only examines the history of these technologies but also highlights their politics, and demonstrates the vulnerabilities they expose, such as disease, maternal pressures, and data privacy threats.

Current devices in the collection include:
Babypod — intravaginal speaker for gestating fetuses
Elvie — smart pelvic floor muscle exerciser
Livia — abdominal electrical nerve stimulator for menstrual cramps
Essure — nonsurgical female sterilization device
Wusic — womb heartbeat monitor
Mirena — hormonal contraceptive intrauterine device
Skyla — hormonal contraceptive intrauterine device
ParaGard — copper contraceptive intrauterine device
NuvaRing — hormonal contraceptive vaginal insert
Implanon — hormonal contraceptive implant
Bellybuds — abdominal speaker for gestating fetuses