Michaela Shahini

Insta: michaelashahini/ pepsuy

Cyberpsychology

“Established from the symbiotic relationship between humanity and technology, this project concerns itself with the philosophical interconnection of cybernetics and the human mind. The title itself, Cyberpsychology, is the study of how human psychology and behaviour responds to a culture which is totally submerged in cybernetics and artificial technology.

My original intent was to create a series which explored the genres of science fiction and psychological horror through fashion photography. This original outcome involved a sci-fi inspired clothing collection which had been created by reworking second-hand clothes with old electronic parts. These images were originally going to be printed through alternative methods such as cyanotypes and solarised darkroom prints. Alternative methods of capturing my subjects planned to include wet plate photography and film manipulation techniques such as bleaching, burning, and electrocuting. Accessories such as masks and jewellery would have been hand-made and exhibited next to the images alongside the set pieces. These creations would have framed the final series and created an atmosphere which involved the audience and let my project bleed from the printed images into the exhibition space. Collaborations with local models, 3D artists, and makeup artists had been planned to strengthen the project and create connections with the local art community.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all studio spaces and workshops were closed. No longer having access to vital equipment such as, darkrooms, studios, sewing machines, and with access to models and FX artists being no longer feasible due to national lockdown, I was forced to shift the course of my project in a new direction.

These obstacles led me to develop a body of work which instead explored the idea of physically manifesting the trauma of technology through mediums of digital collaging, glitch art, and body horror. The project was redirected to focus on the sci-fi based ideations of what is ‘alien’, and the fear phenomena of ‘uncanny valley’, which is where our own fears of being an imposter are projected. I took a large amount of influence from 80s science fiction films, and horror artists such as Zdzislaw Beksinski and H.R Giger. The outcome of this project explores the philosophical horrors of technology and human manipulation. The final triptych of photographs portrays humanoid creatures which symbolise the deep trauma of the technology which we have created. The hands and fingers sprouting from the mutated creatures represent how we have trapped ourselves in a web of technology, and of tyranny – the hands are possessive, always angry.

This project will be explored in new ways throughout the remainder of lockdown, and once I am able, I plan to restart my initial concept ideas and create the body of work I had originally hoped to. Concepts for these future shoots have been drawn up, and collaborations with local artists and 3D engineers have already been discussed. Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome of this project, especially considering the tough circumstances surrounding it.”