Summer Dunsmore: “An Emblem of our Shared Future”

We invited artists from Duke’s MFA EDA community to share work they have made in response to the coronavirus crisis. See the full “Home & Away” collection here.

Summer Dunsmore: “An Emblem of our Shared Future”

Artist’s Reflection

My MFA thesis research as well as my current visual art work seek to examine ways of being embodied in an inextricable relationship with technology and the environment. Our collective health is a reflection of the earth around us. Face masks and face shields represent ways of moving through physically-manipulated spaces. They are symbols for navigating the hostilities and realities of the pandemic, of an entangled anthropocene. As our rush to industrialize and generate wealth through digital technology and data collection revolutionizes how we move capital, build hierarchies and interact globally, we now face our existential destruction at the hands of that same technology. We are unable to physically separate ourselves from the costs of mining resources, extracting energies, indulging in our digital excesses. The face shield is not just a glitch in time, an unfortunate by-product of the pandemic. The reasons we need face masks and face shields are wrought with all kinds of social and climate-based implications. The face shield is an emblem of our shared future, of what’s at stake. It will undoubtedly have a role in our future worldings, our speculative storytelling. Donning my own face shield, I created an interconnected array of self-portraits, in isolation at home, in process and in play.


Summer Dunsmore is an artist, educator and documentarian based in California. Her work focuses on expanding collaborative and immersive transmedia storytelling practices through video, text, and installation.