In the modern world, with highly developed technology and science in general, people got a unique chance to change a lot around them. They are able to create something completely new and to destroy those things which they suppose to be usefulness. So, the modern world shows us a face which has survived plenty of micro and macro operations. The same we can say about the appearance of the today’s human who also got an incredible opportunity to correct his body. Indeed, plastic surgery becomes more and more popular among people. Though still, there are different points of view about it. Of course, there were and are people who develop and form the main positions concerning plastic surgery, and the influence of some is really strong. One of them is Orlan, whose use of plastic surgery is socially and politically important and has a rebellious character. The reason for this is her extraordinary, vivid, and completely free way of thinking.
If almost all the fashionable magazines and high-rated TV-programs show us the side of the plastic surgery in a “before and after” format missing the main part of the process, Orlan reveals through her works those realities that usually remain hidden. However she does not make an accent on her pain during the operation. On the contrary, she wants to prove that we, as observers, will feel it much stronger than she herself. The reason is that Orlan does not want to be one of those self-destructive women with the label of self-mutilator and victim. She proves that a woman can stand over the technology. She is not afraid to turn the private art of surgery into a public one although it is necessary to mention the fact that surgeons do not want to work in front of cameras showing all the details of the whole process. Orlan’s deeds make people reconsider their stereotypes concerning operations and attitude to them. Her works are like a real brain storming. Imogen Ashby says:
In the touring exhibition “This is My body…This is my Software”, Orlan had big prints made of her seventh operation “Omnipresence”. She photographs herself immediately after and for a number of days following the surgery, her face bruised and swollen. These photographs form part of the exhibition. Always keen to emphasis the parodic, she creates the travesty of the “before and after” shots so familiar at the back of women’s magazines. (Ashby 44 - 45) Through these images Orlan reveals to us the realities of cosmetic surgery that have remained hidden.
Besides, Orlan provokes people to think over several other solemn questions, one of which is whether our internal self is certain? According to her way of thinking, our external self is uncertain and in the same state is our inner self. This is one more reason why people change their appearance looking for the best matching variant. Her point of view contradicts the general ideas of the static inner self. The inner disturbance, the state of constant motion and uncertainty make people act in order to find something that looks like a balance between their two worlds. Orlan gives us an excellent example of searching of “what is best for me”. These changes are lightened as the way of a therapy for the artist. As she notes, a man won’t never stop the process of changing as this inner movement is constant; consequently, it will always demand the external corrections. A man cannot reach his final operation, his final himself – it is not his nature. Orlan has undergone nine operations, but she was not looking for the general prototype of an ideally beautiful woman. She made her decisions depending on her own ideas and desires. Orlan’s art makes us look for the answers on the eternal questions concerning two human natures; the main point is that she opens the problem from a completely new side. (47-48)
Moreover, Orlan tries to prove that a woman must not follow the typical dominant ideologies. It is her who sets the rules of this game. This woman shows the world on her own examples; she also takes part in the operation and not the doctor or fashion or somebody else dictates her the conditions of the work. Orlan proves that it is a woman on whom the changes depend. She chose “Mona Lisa” for the androgyny, “Diana” for her aggressiveness and the bumps on her forehead like Mia in the film “Space 1999’ to indicate her intelligence. (44) By the way, she is one of those who open the problem of relationships between the women and technology. As we can see, she has chosen those things and those characters that correspond to her state in that period of life. In this way, Orlan breaks the stereotypes about beauty and tells us to find our own ways of improvement. It is really something new, because as we know, each epoch has its own etalon of beauty; all of them were different at different times. Orlan tells us to take that one which is the most comfortable for us, because a woman creates herself on her own.
Orlan’s works make a woman think over, choose, feel, and act. She sends fresh air into the world of plastics surgery. Besides, she touches the problems of a beauty concept that is really important nowadays when the frames of the ideal appearance are too tight and sometimes cause troubles. While discussing all this problems, Orlan pays attention to the role of the woman in the modern society, her functions, and her performance. In this way, she opens some gender aspects. It is necessary to mention that mostly all her works have a rebel character. Somebody likes them while others cannot stand the only thought of their existence. So, the reaction is different, but it makes the society move ahead looking for the right way out and checks all the possible variants. Orlan’s works have got a great influence on the social and political life of the modern world. She proves that the technology gives us a feeling of free choice, but at the same time, it is very restricted. Orlan does not except the concept of the “natural body” as it demands changes and it can be changed. We may say that for a lot of people, technology has made the religion and superstition move back. Still, despite the power of the technology Orlan does not become one of its millions victims as it happens to most of the women. Orlan gives us a new material to think over, and this brings and has already brought changes on the different levels of our life.