Research: Sputniko! – Menstruation Machine

by Beauchamp Art

Whilst reading through ‘Talk To Me’ (2011), I came across and interesting piece/design called ‘Sputniko! – Menstruation Machine’, that involved a device that simulated the effects of menstruation which could be worn by the user in order to experience the physical sensation of menstruating, though obviously could not simulate the hormonal effects (this would require a large number of hormones and drugs to simulate, and could have negative unexpected long term affects, such as a male may experience if he were to take the female contraceptive pill.

スプツニ子!/Sputniko! – Menstruation Machine, Takashi’s Take

Installation with video (color, sound), screens, and printed panels, 3:24 min., dimensions variable;
Device: aluminum, electronics, and acrylic
13 3/8 x 13 13/16 x 13 3/8″ (34 x 35 x 34 cm)
© Sputniko!
Courtesy the artist and Scai the Bathhouse, Tokyo.

It’s 2010, so why are humans still menstruating?
As a female artist I had one intriguing question I wanted to solve.

[…]
So what does Menstruation mean, biologically, culturally and historically, to humans? Who might choose to have it, and how might they have it? The Menstruation Machine — fitted with a blood dispensing mechanism and electrodes simulating the lower abdomen — simulates the pain and bleeding of a 5 day menstruation process. The machine was developed with research support from Professor Jan Brosens at the Department of Medicine, Imperial College London.

The music video features a Japanese transvestite boy Takashi, who one day chooses to wear ‘Menstruation’ in an attempt to biologically dress up as a female, being unsatisfied by just aesthetically appearing female. He builds and wears the machine to fulfill his desire to understand what the period feels like for his female friends.

[…]

Not only is this piece an interesting comment on gender issues, but also on the integration of technology and the body, the affects of human developments on humanity itself, and what this means for society.

Azzurra Cox [2011; 177] describes Sputniko! as an artist who “…explores technology, feminism, and pop culture by collaborating with scientists on works that suggest possible intersections amongst these fields.”

Antonelli, Paola, 2011. Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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Antonelli, Paola, 2011. Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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