Is This Baby Mine? is a speculative performance taken place at Parsons School of Design in December 13, 2021.
The performance posed questions around the topics of portraiture and pregnancy in a futuristic setting. By giving an imaginary self-portrait, the audience are exposed to possible questions that will come along with emerging birth-giving technologies.
Humans see portraits as a reflection of reality and truth. Pregnancy portraits — either as popular as those social media big-belly photos, or as surreal as Frida Kahlo’s paintings — represents true feelings from the woman identity. Seeing our portraits reinforces the images of self, a sense of commitment and, sometimes, self-reflection.
This project asked what an embryo, artificial or not, feels like by visualizing artificially generated embryos out of a physical belly.
In the light of emerging birth-giving technologies, will women be the only gender that gives birth? What will happen if this border of gender difference becomes blended? What new meanings will be assigned to giving birth? What problems in the status quo will be diminished and what will come up? How will this change or shape our future identities?
‘Is this baby mine?’, rooted in the machine vision, also was targeted to question where this ‘alien baby’ generated by the machine belongs to, with an analogy between the process of machine learning and fertilization.
I used The Multi-Dimensional Human Embryo dataset by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). It’s a three-dimensional image reference of the human embryo during the 13th to 23rd Carnegie Stages based on magnetic resonance imaging(MRI), representing 32 to 56 days post-ovulation. Through image augmentation in Lightweight GAN running 10000 steps with the 16 batch-size , this dataset is qualified to generate a whole lifecycle of the embryo.
The audience were seated in front of a mirror, given an artificial belly and asked to put into their clothes.
There's a huge difference between wearing a belly and not wearing one.
I felt more into the scene when looking into the artificial images on my 'belly' from the mirror than looking at others wearing the belly from the side.
This is my first time to experience the feeling of pregnancy in my life and it feels fantastic to be a woman!