Artists and Hackers: Ep. 16 – A meditation on Power on all levels

SHAWNÉ MICHAELAIN HOLLOWAY is a new media artist with a ‘noisy, experimental’ practice. Her performances and practice make use of constraints, pain and pleasure, speaking to issues of power, both in private, intimate space as well as in the public sphere.

SHAWNÉ MICHAELAIN HOLLOWAY is a new media artist, poet and performer. She’s also an open source software advocate and a powerlifter.

One area that comes up in many of our interviews with new media artists is a discussion of their tools, those that they make or use. And as more and more artists are using a variety of tools and software, they end up impacting our understanding of them, as well as what their tools mean and their place in shaping culture. In fact, SHAWNÉ integrates the ecosystem of software into her performances.

In her performance project ._SUITABLE_FOR.EXE[CUTION] the name itself contains “.exe”, an executable file, also called a “binary” file. And the executable file contains specific encoded instructions for the computer to follow. This is both a specific reference to a performance score, and it also ties into the idea of an event score. This brings to mind Fluxus event scores and happenings, which Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort in the New Media Reader describe as scripted theatrical events for an audience with limited audience interaction. It’s long been a staple that artists use constraint to set self-imposed rules to help them guide the creation of their works. In SHAWNÉ’s work, she’s creating the rules for the performers to follow. More fundamentally, these rules around submission and domination in BDSM become part of the ecosystem of the work. And many of her projects and performances feature this idea of performers submitting to the rules of the event score.

SHAWNÉ’s projects often feature animal training, algorithmic scores or controls, and a reference to or use of robotics – speaking to the time we live in now, anxiety and pleasure, as we embrace, and are repulsed by the latest technologies, and the complicated connection between power and desire.

Link to the podcast

image description: SHAWNÉ in long curly hair stands in a light-filled space with plants, wearing a black t-shirt illustrated with barbs, spikes and scorpions.

SHAWNÉ MICHAELAIN HOLLOWAY is a Chicago-based new media artist and poet. Known for her noisy experimental electronics and performance practice, Holloway shapes the rhetorics of computer programming and sadomasochism into tools for exposing structures of power. She has spoken and exhibited work internationally since 2012 in spaces like Performance Space New York, The New Museum, The Kitchen, The Time-Based Art Festival at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), The Knockdown Center, and the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf. SHAWNÉ is currently Assistant Professor of Video/New Media in the Kinetic Imaging department at Virginia Commonwealth University and has served as the Digital Developer and Technology Manager with Black Lunch Table’s archives team from 2022-23. In addition to her work in the arts, she is an open source software advocate, 1/2 of electronics duo bone lattice, and a bodybuilder.


This season of the podcast is produced with the New Media Caucus for New Rules: Conversations with New Media Artists. You can find out more by visiting This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit

Special thanks to Jessye McDowell, Rebecca Forstater and Nat Roe.

Our audio production is by Max Ludlow.

Our music on today’s episode is:

Kaleidoplasm – Poison Control
Podington Bear – Reflector
S-B-J – Be As Terror – Beast Error
Lobo Loco – Fingerorgel Kalimba
Kirk Osamayo – (Ambient) Fight