katherine behar
katherine behar: this.construction();
art: She-Thing: The Onyx

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She-Thing: The Onyx is a slowly scanning video, presented on a vertical flatscreen, that reveals an image of the Onyx presiding over a shrine built in her honor. The Onyx is an early-1990s mainframe supercomputer by Silicon Graphics International (SGI) that in its heyday specialized in high-end graphics processing. In She-Thing, the Onyx is adorned with a giant hand-braided custom wig made from weave extensions, matching her black and purple SGI casing. Offerings, ranging from fish and sweets to microchips, surround this mammoth machine. They are arrayed in the style of a Yoruba shrine to the deity Yemaja. Yemaja, whose name translates to "mother whose children are like fish," embodies the ocean, creativity and motherhood.


By adding a hair-do to a computer, She-Thing: The Onyx broaches issues of race and gender in computing culture. Although SGI styled the "thing" in question with design allusions to street culture, and added a feminine purple flair, the likelihood that a black woman wearing a weave would have had the opportunity to operate this machine is low. The title, She-Thing, is also a reference to the 1995 song "Ain't Nuthin' But A She Thing" by the feminist hip hop trio Salt-N-Pepa, a song that promotes sex-positive female power and gender equality in the workplace.