Media artist Lynn Hershman divides her work into
two categories: B.C. (Before Computers) and A.D. (After Digital).
The line of demarcation occurred around 1980 as interactive
technologies, including personal computers and laserdisc players,
became commercially available. In her early performance works
and site-specific installations (B.C.), Hershman had begun exploring
themes that focused on issues of identity, alienation, and the
blurring between reality and fiction.
The first of her interactive works was Lorna
(1982), the seminal art videodisc; a labyrinthine journey through
the mental landscape of an agoraphobic middle-aged woman. Lorna's
passive relation to media and life is juxtaposed with the viewer's
new found agency to select and reassemble the narrative's branching
themes, stories, interpretations, and conclusions. In Deep
Contact (1984-89), Hershman uses a touchscreen interface
to suggest that the viewer can reach through the work's glass
surface, the computer's "fourth wall." This type of interactivity
constitutes a transgression of the screen, transporting the
viewer into virtual reality.