..: lorelei pepi . com :..

Image Standards and the Male Gaze

Posted on July 29, 2016

My project research has me considering image definition and standards. The act of looking and critiquing an image invariably includes its subject. The “male gaze” has already been described and defined quite adequately (check out Laura Mulvey’s pivotal writing,) so I won’t go into it here, but I discovered an interesting path that made me think about the collection of facts regarding standardized test images used for checking image quality in film, photo and digital software systems. People in media arts (film, video, publishing, gaming) know that it’s necessary to have color, luminance and resolution quality, and that a standard test image is often used to help calibrate image-making equipment settings.

Bens-LLs-007In film, there was the invariable colour bars that everyone has seen, but there was also the “Indian Head Resolution Chart” and what we called in the film industry, the Girl Head. The Girl Head was a pretty young white woman in even lighting against a coloured bg with some prop, like plants) and a poster board of colour bars in the corner. This allowed the person doing the colour correction for film prints to have a standard set of caucasian skin and a range of colours to check their choices against. Film-goers would never see this Girl Head. It was trimmed off the reel once printing was completed. This film “Leader Ladies” (2006) brought great archival gathering of all kinds of Girl Head images from across the decades of filmmaking.


The use of women (this image standard is 99% exclusively women) as something to look at happened because white men were in charge of all of the technology. They made decisions about what they would prefer to look at, and not surprisingly, they chose pretty, young white women.

Lena Soderberg

Girl Head image of Lena Soderberg

The surprise is not a surprise. Some of these early Girl Heads occurred because the academic scientists had copies of the softporn magazine, Playboy, lying around in those academic research labs. Of note is that one of the most famous standard image Girl Heads is Lena Sorenberg, and that it came from her Playboy centrefold. This should give rise to our awareness that these male-centric academic centres of learning and exploration had porn magazines be a regular part of the environment and social downtime. In this instance it’s USC Signal and Image Processing Institute, and Asst. Professor, Alexander Sawchuk ripping out Lena’s image to wrap it around a drum for scanning. After all, the Playboy mag was there, and the images were good quality, and they were bored with the previously used images.

Picture Coding 3-Bit

Adding to this is that Lawrence Roberts, the “father of the internet” was one of the first to use fax scans of Playboy girls as part of his MIT thesis on digital image dithering (1962). He didn’t use nude girl images. Perhaps he chose the picture because it was a woman, the image was of decent quality, and it gave him an array of grey tones.

Now the main note that I want to make is that these pictures were available in the Playboy magazine, which caters to men’s desire to gaze at naked women (not a problematic thing in itself), and these were evidently a popular item in academic science labs, including MIT’s and USC’s. Porn isn’t inherently bad. But the intentions of how we look at one another when in positions of power, and how it relates to our social, economic and political activities DOES take place. In this unfolding scene, it was well known that academic science labs were environments where there were few to no women, and this is because of a long history of sexism and barriers against women and people of colour. These barriers and the contextualizing of the environment leads to a much heavier weight of what this “Girl Head” means in its final decoding.

When some of us point out what representation means in regards to a particular gender, race, ethnicity or any “type” of person, we are looking at the deeper insides of those histories that implicate how someone in power looks at another person that has less or no power. No adequate image ever arrives in the frame without someone’s informed gaze having placed it there. And that resultant image allows us to know what values were in place for that holder of the gaze. Porn magazines, image standards, and the (white) male gaze are a confluence of that power. And that’s why the Girl Head is also problematic. As slang, it turns a woman into a child, and reduces her power even further.

The Girl Head image is more than nostalgia, and more than just an image of a pretty woman.


Women in Tech Arts

Posted on July 25, 2016

I’m gathering more resources for how women in tech arts support and raise each other up. I’m sharing a few of these to spread the love.


FemTechNet is an activated network of hundreds of scholars, students, and artists who work on, with, and at the borders of technology, science, and feminism in a variety of fields including Science and Technology Studies (STS), Media and Visual Studies, Art, Women’s, Queer, and Ethnic Studies.

Model View Culture
A magazine about technology, culture and diversity.

Teaching Girls Online Skills for Knowledge Projects

HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) is an interdisciplinary community of humanists, artists, social scientists, scientists, and technologists that are changing the way we teach and learn.

Deep Lab
From 2014 but interesting videos and info are worth reviewing. Deep Lab is a congress of cyberfeminist researchers, organized by STUDIO Fellow Addie Wagenknecht to examine how the themes of privacy, security, surveillance, anonymity, and large-scale data aggregation are problematized in the arts, culture and society. This operated out of the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University


Women in Tech Arts 2

Posted on July 5, 2016

I’ve benefitted greatly from the super tutorials that these two people have provided online. Sharing!

Their tutorials are for using the Kinect V2 and Unity to perform interactive Gesture Control. The human left hand controls the movement of a 3D cube.

Computer with: Unity 5, Kinect for Windows Unity Package

“Kinect for Windows Unity Package”

This contains all kinds of scripts and more for using the Kinect V2 with Unity.

  1. Scroll down the webpage and find Unity Pro add-ons
  2. Unity Pro Packages > KinectForWindows_UnityPro_2.0.1410, DOWNLOAD
  3. Package includes essentials for Unity Kinect partnering
    1. Green Screen
    2. Kinect View
    3. Kinect 2.0
    4. Face
    5. Visual.Gesture.Builder
    6. ReadMe


She doesn’t do these tutorials anymore, but they’re recent and this one was SUPER helpful. It was built on PeteD’s written out tutorial http://peted.azurewebsites.net/kinect-4-windows-v2-unity-3d/ PeteD’s finished version file of the following tutorial can be downloaded at http://1drv.ms/1tyKlIT. The only thing his doesn’t do is implement is the multiplier of the movement amount, but he does include pos.Z for movement of the cube.) Kris Rothe’s version is perhaps a little code-tidier in one section, but is otherwise almost the same.

Gesture Control with Kinect and Unity “made easy”
by Kristina Rothe (Micrsft / Tobii)

This following tutorial can be accomplished without the Kinect hardware/software up until the final “test your game” mode. It does involve using the SCRIPTS folder from the Kinect for Windows Unity Package. Going through this will help to demonstrate how to implement the Kinect and use a body part to affect a GameObject.

Explicit walkthrough of how to control a game object with the hand. Demonstrates by creating a “game” of moving a cube by tracking the user’s hand position. She then shows how to modify the cube range of response (degree of motion increase in relation to hand gesture)

<iframe src=”https://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/2p-start/Gesture-Control-with-Kinect-and-Unity-made-easy/player” width=”960″ height=”540″ allowFullScreen frameBorder=”0″></iframe>


Kat V Harris has GREAT SUPPORT MATERIALS for Gesture Control Kinect and Unity. She’s super thorough and addresses the essential overview as well as needed details.
GitHub: KatVHarris > Unity5-KinectGestures
page includes links to other plug-ins
@katvharris twitter


Gesture Builder (Microsoft SDK Kinect V2)
The Kinect SDK (downloaded software from Microsoft so you can run your Kinect V2 through your computer.) has Gesture Builder, which allows you yo record a specific gesture, refine it, and use it in a compiled a library. You can then use these controlling gestures for the Unity “game” you’re making.

It’s essential that any import and install of Microsoft Kinect / Unity package files must be done in a defined ORDER. Kat walks you through it really well. It’s not complicated, but the order is important.

Docile Bodies: R & D 5

Posted on June 30, 2016

More accidents. Enjoy Grandma having a head trip. This one is some whacky Maya rigging conflicting with the Unity and mocap requirements.

Grandma has a head trip

Grandma has a head trip

Docile Bodies: R & D 4

Posted on June 25, 2016

Cosmo has been working on employing facial motion capture onto one of the models I’m using. Sometimes, things go horribly wrong – haha.

Facial mo-cap possession

Facial mo-cap possession

Docile Bodies: R & D 3

Posted on June 20, 2016

There are some amazingly great resources for engaging the Kinect V2 and Unity 3D, which is why I’ve elected to use tools together. The brilliance of people and companies that d this work and make it available is a big plus for me as an artist. Cosmo’s work here is focused on analyzing these pre-made codes and methods, and then modifying/re-writing and problem solving specifically for this project’s goals. He’s also doing a lot of work in preparing the models I’ve obtained for the purposes of this project. Because they come from all over the internet, there’s a lot of “fixing” to get them to all be conducive for this project. An essential part of this project is looking at these online commodities, these bodies of economic trade, so by necessity they come from the acts of buying, trading, an finding what other’s have made.

The role of how the female body is commodified and exploited, especially child females, is a serious issue. The project’s engaging with this horrifying virtual world where bought-and-sold avatars of women exist. As an animator, I’m interested in the manufacturing of these bodies and identities, as well as their subsequent use online.

3D web store screenshot

3D web store screenshot


Docile Bodies: R & D 2

Posted on June 10, 2016

My co-op student is Ziran Cosmo Chen, an Emily Carr Univ of Art & Design (ECUAD) undergrad, currently in his 4th year in the Animation Program. Cosmo has a background in interactive media and 3D animation (Maya primarily). His interactive media education happened at Alberta College of Art & Design (AACAD), and the animation at ECUAD. I just gave him a pep talk about making a website for himself…

Cosmo says hi

Cosmo says hi


Docile Bodies: R & D 1

Posted on June 5, 2016

It’s summer and the Docile Bodies project research and development is in full swing. I have summer sublet for my studio, bought all kinds of equipment, and hired an Emily Carr Univ co-op student skilled in coding and 3D animation. The Kinect Sensor will be used quite a bit to integrate the Viewer’s location and behaviour (gesture, direction they’re facing, vocal speaking) as triggers for the various avatars. The avatars and associated media will be housed in Unity 3D gaming engine.

Kinect SDK data cluster and skeletal tracking

Kinect SDK data cluster and skeletal tracking

Grazie mille, Sardegna!

Posted on November 29, 2015

Hey, it was really wonderful to have my film “Happy & Gay” receive the Sardinia Queer Audience Award at the 2015 Sardinia Queer Short Film Festival! This was the first time I ever had to do a pre-recorded “thank you,” and it was a little odd to do it, as I imagined it was a long shot. But, it wasn’t! (here’s a few frames as a gif) It’s super to have the work recognized! Grazie mille, Sardegna!!


Creative Capital 2015 Presentation

Posted on October 26, 2015

This is the Creative Capital 2015 Artist Retreat presentation I gave on my project “Docile Bodies,” currently in development. It was a privilege to be amongst the astounding and passionate artists with such amazing projects also in the 2015 group.