Polly returns

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Digital contemporary retake of Shelley Lake's eerie video 'Polly gone' (1988). 'Polly Gone' was a critique of the gendered role of the housewife. Although the music is 1980s techno, the eeriness and themes somewhat recalls Chantal Akerman's video 'Saute ma ville' (1968). In 'Polly Returns', the robot has taken a more humane physiognomy, and the relation to the screen has changed. Polly has become an integral part of the screen, and her gendered role has acquired complexity that goes beyond domestic chores. Rolling text instructs her in a very neoliberal way how to be simultaneously a perfect housewife, a politically conscious citizen, a productive worker and a caring mum, among others.

Contributors note: 

While in residence at the Internet Archive, I came across Polly Gone, a 1988 computer animation by Shelley Lake (who was then the technical director of Digital Productions, a prominent 3D animation studio). In the video, a female robot -- whose severe, mechanistic design was inspired by Oskar Schlemmer's Triadic Ballet -- zips around a futuristic dome house doing various domestic chores, all while a horror movie soundtrack with synthesized beats plays in the background. Fascinated with how dystopian and surreal the animation seems in retrospect, I attempted to address the horror of the digital sublime in a modern day version: Here, Polly returns in 2017 to find herself awash in a sea of listicle titles. My soundtrack is based on Shelley Lake's soundtrack, which in turn was inspired by the soundtrack from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

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Polly Returns

Polly Gone

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Maud Ceuterick