The Aphrodite Project - Platforms

A shoe featuring GPS technology to empower sex-workers

Platforms is a set of shoes with electronics integrated into their heels, including an LCD screen, speakers, a GPS tracking device, and a transmitter, that can send emergency alerts to public services or sex workers' rights groups. They are one of several wearables Norene Leddy developed together with Andrew Milmoe as part of the Aphrodite Project - an artistic investigation linking contemporary discussions around the decriminalization of sex work with the mythology of the ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite. Launched in 2006 as a limited art edition, the project later evolved to provide DIY-Kits to distribute the technology and make the wearables more affordable. It also encompassed a community website to share content for the screens and speakers, technical troubleshooting forums, and a section where members of the community could track the location data of their peers, as a means to keep each other safe.

The project was developed before GPS-enabled cell phones entered the market around 2008, kicking off the widespread institutional use of location data for commercial and surveillance practices.

Platforms demonstrates the potential of wearable DIY computing developed in the interest of marginalized communities, providing a practical tool around location data to empower sex workers. It was also shown in several art exhibitions where it contributed to the debate on the regulation and decriminalization of sex work, questioning whose interests new technology can and should serve.

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