SIGGRAPH 2009 Distinguished Artist Award: Leeson

  • ©2009, Lynn Hershman Leeson



    Distinguished Artist Award


    The ACM SIGGRAPH 2009 Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art is presented to both Lynn Hershman Leeson and Roman Verostko.

    Lynn created paradigm-changing innovations with a broad range of emergent applications and pioneering new modes of storytelling, all accomplished with a strong aesthetic and insightful cultural discourse, establishing a body of work compelling beyond technical achievement. Imaginatively intertwining fantasy and cultural commentary into new formats, Lynn’s works serve as an example of how new technology can be applied to provocative social issues while exploring new artistic sensibilities. As an artist, writer, and educator, she has generously shared her process and ideas, and in doing so, has inspired a new generation of artists.

    She began her career first as a painter and sculptor, and then as a performance and installation artist, before turning to video by the late 1970s. Exploring the perception of self and identity while calling into question social and cultural assumptions, her early productions foreshadowed her later works with avatar personas. In 1979 Lynn began work on Lorna, one of the first interactive videodisks ever produced, completing it in 1983. Lynn went on to create other interactive video works, spanning the period when interactivity was largely unexplored, and setting precedents for creating new ways of communicating meaning in a format that is still evolving.

    In 1995 Lynn turned to telerobotics, incorporating internet interactivity into ongoing explorations of the roles of spectator and subject in the context of a feminist critique.. Her work expanded to include three feature films, further exploring identity in current society. Her newest work takes place in Second Life with a reconstruction of the social commentary fantasy worlds that she constructed before the digital age.

    Lynn received her BS in Education, Museum Administration, and Fine Arts from Case Western Reserve University in 1963, and in 1972 she received the MA from San Francisco State University. Continuing her active academic career, she is currently Chair of the Film Department at the San Francisco Art Institute, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Davis, and an A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. Exhibiting internationally in Museums, Film Festivals, and a variety of Conferences, Lynn’s contributions to the discourse of interactivity include her book Clicking In, Hotlinks to a Digital Culture.

    Lynn Hershman Leeson is an internationally recognized pioneer in creating participatory digital works that push the boundaries of the art of our time, and ACM SIGGRAPH is very pleased to honor her.


    ACM SIGGRAPH Press Release, 2009