bio doll

by Franca

This work has been commented by 2 editor(s). Read the comments


bio doll

Concept author(s)

Franca Formenti

Concept author year(s) of birth


Concept author(s) Country


Friendly Competition

Love Conflict Imagination (2010-2011)

Competition category

Critical writing

Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

It is a woek about the manipulation of information

Check out the Love Conflict Imagination 2010-2011 outlines of Memefest Friendly competition.

About work


In 2002 I imagined a future where human beings have lost their erotic tendencies and children are no longer conceived through sexual intercourse but merely through artificial insemination techniques; as well as bypassing the act of masturbation in order to collect sperm is also bypassed. A sterile world without passion or libido. I imagined a contemporary cloning centre which puts a cloned woman on the market who works for the male population in order to stimulate their sexual appetite, to bring back that sexual part of their memory. I created the Bio Doll, a prostitute without a uterus and without a belly-button, as a metaphor for the absence of any maternal relationship. The belly-button represents the trace of the maternal bond at the time of birth; it represents a permanent sign of that bond with the mother through the umbilical cord. To imagine being human without a belly-button is to go back to Baudrillard’s philosophy, who thought of human beings reproducing like the scions of a rose. The first performances by the Bio Doll were a “banal” erotic dance, like a lap dance, which provoked the audience through a very erotic movement of the body, also creating a sense of embarrassment through that provocative movement. The concept of such a provocation was to emphasise an obsessive attitude to sex or rather, to the act of copulation as a means to reproduce and conceive. For this same reason, the genetic trace of gestation and maternity was left in the Bio Doll’s memory – despite her being cloned – a trace that follows her everywhere and forces her to experience sexuality with an excessive neurosis which leads her to stimulate the libido of her audience, who in actual fact lack such a libido. This trace in her memory has intentionally been left there by her creators from the contemporary cloning centre because it gives them the certainty of a sexual extremeness and therefore of a perfect source of income. Sexuality exists first and foremost for reproduction and then it is refined and perfected, until it becomes an act of pure physical pleasure and enjoyment, at least as far as humans are concerned. This is the main leitmotiv of the Bio Doll’s hot and impudent attitude, who becomes a master of seduction – seduce= to bring to oneself - with the objective of enticing her prey, or at least reawakening the libido of “sedated humanity”, including their most intimate and erotic self. The Bio Doll lives an unsatisfied life with great emptiness because her search for maternity is always experienced with the awareness of never being able to be satisfied; this is for a good reason: not having a uterus that allows her to reproduce through pregnancy, not having reproductive genitalia. This reality causes her great anxiety and makes her perform frenetic sexual activity. I imagine a future where the concept of family will disappear, where there will no longer be close parental connections and where the image of the family unit will be completely deformed to the point that the grandfather figure could exist only in museums as proof of its existence and as anthropological evidence. An upside-down future where physical contact between people will be removed because everything will be de-materialised. In such a context the Bio Doll begins to find her way around the internet, discovering that the fluidity of the Net is an extension of our senses and that this environment, with its many facets, gives her a sort of gratification, a sense of wholeness. She begins to relate to various characters from the cultural world and she stops to interact with Derrick de Kerckhove. They exchange information, on the one hand Dek instructs the Bio Doll with elementary notions of technology and sociology and other disciplines whereas the Bio Doll insinuates herself into the professor’s psyche – he allows himself to be seduced and molested with explicit language on the verge of being pornographic. From this pulsating exchange, in a sort of Big Bang of primordial liquid, the Bio Doll feels the sensation of pregnancy; she becomes pregnant through the conception of information that has been inserted into her body, which lives halfway between reality and the virtuality. This exchange of information starts to have a life of its own and evolves into a virtual creature, the bloki, or rather, a hybrid between a blog and a wiki. Blog here means a platform that allows for the possibility to interact with other individuals, and wiki is a free instrument used to increase one’s knowledge. Perhaps it’s a utopia but at least it’s a hope to be able to access knowledge that is often denied by rules imposed by others. The bloki initially had a confrontational dimension because it put de kerckhove at the users’ disposal, so that they could ask him questions in order to deepen their knowledge about certain issues that they often don’t have the opportunity to discuss with an intellectual figure who usually sits behind the closed doors of academia. This transforms the intellectual into a global object at everyone’s disposal - the attempt to do so is the soul behind the bloki project. After this, the Bio Doll begins to invade other blogs, inserting herself with provocative comments which attract the public’s attention because of their high erotic content – by manipulating the visitors’ perception, she seduces them in order to increase their curiosity and conduct them to read the issues that the guests discuss. Before this passage there is a phase where Derrick becomes a distracted Father figure who neglects the growth of his child Bloki, but Bloki, instead of being alarmed, looks for new ways of attracting more and more visitors who can continuously fill the container of places visited by the bloki itself, through an exchange of opinions and information. Therefore, it will invite people from different fields such as culture, entertainment, fashion etc. to ask questions and give answers on various current issues but posting their correspondence in the comments of blogs with their names, to the point that it takes away from the initial argument of the post from the owner of the blog and therefore manipulates the subject of the initial argument. It de-structures it, making it take on another form which changes continuously. It uses information in an independent way but not on its own territory, but rather other people’s, a sort of virtual contemporary nomad. Another performance was the bloki free press which was a free magazine distributed by 3 very attractive, sensual and beautiful Bio Dolls who, by distributing the free press, invite the public to visit the blog where bloki took various people, invading the bloggers’ own posts and stimulating them to participate in the exchange of information. In the free press there were images of correspondence of some questions and answers of some of these people and bloki is also a link between the virtual and the real. A reverse way of doing journalism through user generated content. The Bio Doll doesn’t currently have a website, this is through choice as the objective is to understand if any traces of her existence can be found by searching the net. In February this will all be presented at Transmediale. In the course of my work I have found a wonderful travel companion, Salvatore Iaconesi, who adopted the bloki, making it grow into angel_f and giving it its own autonomy.


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Editors Comments

Daniel Marcus

Wow, there is a lot here to think about. Franca does a good job of explaining the inspiration behind the Bio Doll, though it would help if we could also see it in action, as it were. The Doll addresses so many intense domains – sexuality, physicality, parenthood, technology, the (dis)connection between emotion and sex – that it is difficult to know what an audience would take away from an encounter with it from this distance. In reading this description, I am reminded of an article I read recently about human memory being able to be digitally downloaded in the future, providing a sort of immortality. This is a conceit that is increasingly being circulated – the promise of eternal life is always a big seller – but who would truly want this sort of existence? It is difficult enough for quadriplegics, for example, to accommodate themselves to severe constraints on their physicality; could humans ever be fulfilled with an even more radical removal of their embodiment? Those who put forward this conceit probably are relying on robotics to supply that physical sense.

The Bio Doll is in some sense the flip side of this question. The physical capabilities for pleasure are here, but the emotional dimension has been truncated by the constraints on reproduction. Can we survive when all we are left with is our physicality, as expressed sexually, without the emotional connection to others and the human trek through historical time as understood through a connection to a family? I think Franca explores the reactions of the Doll and those surrounding her in psychologically insightful ways. I wonder what kind of responses she gets when audiences interact with her work. What kind of questions and directions do they provide?

On the other hand, Franca’s critique of sexuality without reproduction, while fruitful (ahem) as metaphorical exploration of larger social trends, may be objected to by those who are either unable to procreate or who choose not to. She seems to say that a link between reproduction and emotional fulfillment is inviolate, that separating sexuality from reproduction is necessarily disastrous. Is this what she truly believes? What reactions have she gotten from those who are childless? Your use of metaphor is productive, but its literal dimension is troubling.

I’m also interested in the various formats and environments in which the Bio Doll has appeared, and would like to know more about the choices involved. How are physical appearances by the Bio Doll different than appearing digitally? What are the reasons behind choosing one venue or form over the other? What have you learned in using the various formats?

Nikolai Jeffs

The Bio Doll project is a fascinating way to examine understandings of art, science, sexuality, and information networks, and to engender various reconceptualisations of these. Indeed, as a description of the project itself this essay would work well in the context of an art project proposal, a chapter in the artist’s biography or as a publication accompanying Bio Doll performances. On the other hand, however, the essay does not really function well as an example of stand-alone critical writing. This is primarily because the reader is drawn to the project itself rather than the writing up of it and because this writing seems to serve the function of being a mere supplement to the project and not a project in itself.
One way in which this condition could be avoided would be to actually offer more presentation of the project itself but in such a way that the reader would gain more insight into its general importance, the wider context in which it sits, and the questions it raises. Another way through which the essay could be improved could be through the deployment of a greater self-reflexive and critical distance towards the Bio Doll project itself. Finally, the author could ask herself: how could the writing be undertaken in such a way that the final product could be considered as a work of critical art in itself, what elements need to be further included in the essay for this goal to be successful?