Thursday, 21 May 2015


Sexism in Pinball
A theme in some of my sketches that form my current body of work, is that they are observational of my research and play into pinball.

One thing I did not originally understand about pinball when I started, is the vast amount of themes out there. When some of these are completely innocent, some of the artwork is aimed at a certain demographic, intentionally including overly-sexual images of women, which appear to be unashamedly sexist.

When researching the recent release of Whoa Nellie! pinball machine, I got to reading threads in forums and comments of Facebook. However, upon following the comment trail on manufacturer, Stern's own Facebook page. It became apparent that there were gaps in the stream of comments on the subject of sexism in the artwork. They had deleted the comments which question the matter, yet left the replies that deny any sexism. It seems suspect to selectively delete comments in this way.

I'm interested in why they chose to censor this conversation. Do they want to avoid it? Do they think the comments of others reflect negatively on their company?

With an association of sexism in pinball there is plenty that can be easily researched online.
There's even this list of most sexist pinball machines.

I found an interesting article from 1993 which states that The Bride of Pinbot pinball machine was removed from a student residence in Harvard University, after students questioned it's sexist view of women.

I understand the themes are meant to be fun and humorous and are a reflection of popular culture, but it's important to question some of the artwork choices.

As I suggested above, the following pieces are an observation of sexism in pinball.

I became curious about using textiles in some of my sketches quite early on, although the idea was not fully formed, and only later I linked it to this concept through clothing and censorship of content.

My initial tests came by stretching a material with a high Lycra content over the top of pinball parts. Originally my thinking was to help make sense of the industrial mechanical object and view it in a different way. Tightly stretching material over the complex mechanism created a subtle relief in the textile, where I really think there is some interesting territory to explore, especially with movement.

This has been the hardest set of my sketches to get right, after multiple failed attempts to incorporate textiles into my work, and I'm still not sure if I'm there. I experimented with printed fabric, which became too fussy but the latest addition of laser engraved text added something.

Despite multiple failures, I have still found this process of creating fun, which is important for me to explore.


Original artwork recreated from The Bride of Pinbot (1991)


Original artwork recreated from Whoa Nellie! (2015)