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The Aphrodite Project: Platforms
Norene Leddy combines art with social activism and fashion design. Leddy’s (2006) Platforms is the most recent series of work in her ongoing Aphrodite Project—it can be described as an integrated system of platform-style shoes, digital media and online services. Platforms are six-inch silver leather sandals featuring an embedded media player with LCD screen, GPS transmitter and an audible alarm. Self-labeled by Leddy as a “social sculpture,” Platforms is a conceptual tribute to the Greek goddess of love, a practical object for contemporary sex workers, and a medium for public dialogue (Leddy, Bringas, Milmoe, & Gira, 2007, p. 148). The design for the shoes is based on historical research and interviews with contemporary sex workers. According to the Aphrodite Project website (2006), the shoes “combine the rich mythology of Aphrodite with the concerns of sex workers on the streets: safety, advertising/promotion, and community.”
As a means to increasing sex worker safety, each sandal is embedded with a loud electronic siren along with a GPS receiver and silent alarm that wirelessly relays the wearer’s location to sex workers’ rights groups and/or emergency services. To help sex workers promote and advertise their services, the shoes’ LCD screen displays a variety of customizable videos and graphics. A speaker in the back of the shoe plays audio tracks of environmental phenomena connected to Aphrodite—ocean sounds from her birthplace, waterfall tracks from the Baths of Aphrodite in Cyprus, etc. Lastly, the Platforms project includes an online component that provides sex workers with an email client, calendar, “problem client” blog, and chat rooms (Aphrodite Project, 2006).