Artistic Exhibition by the PETRAS CyFer Project


The PETRAS CyFer project is delighted to host an extraordinary exhibition from 19 June to 10 September 2023, that will present artworks and designs that respond to scientific research on the privacy, security, and ethics of female-oriented technology at The Exhibition Space, Royal Holloway, University London.

In an era of data-driven advancements and expanding knowledge of health, it is imperative to consider the implications of sharing personal data with apps, sensors, and the Internet of Things (IoT). This responsibility becomes even more crucial when it comes to female-oriented technology, where its introduction can either foster equity or perpetuate gender discrimination, bias, legal barriers to reproductive rights, and new forms of gender-based harassment and violence.

The exhibition will be open to the public seven days a week, 10:00-18:00, at Royal Holloway, University London’s Egham Campus in the Emily Wilding Davison Building.

Artists and designers from around the world have contributed sculptures, textiles, digital art, and interactive experiences that encourage visitors to reflect on the security and privacy of their personal medical information, as well as their expectations regarding menstruation and fertility data. Provoking thought, the artworks raise important questions: Do we truly need these technologies? What valuable aspects might we risk losing through their introduction? Can we trust the makers of our devices, the owners of our apps, and the handlers of our data? Are we aware of their intentions? Furthermore, how do they benefit from our data collection efforts, and what do we gain in return?

These artists and designers have worked in close collaboration with the CyFer scientific research team, comprising of computer scientists, cybersecurity experts, and designers. Together, they have crafted creative responses to these critical questions, forming an interdisciplinary collaboration aimed at inspiring and informing. Through their art, they provide alternative perspectives on these pressing issues, challenging widely accepted assumptions, exploring the emotional impact of scientific discoveries, and enriching our understanding of technology’s influence on our values and lives.

Dr Maryam Mehrnezha (Royal Holloway, University of London) CyFer research project lead, shared her thoughts on the importance of this research and the exhibition:

“Female-oriented technologies, such as devices and apps that track menstruation and fertility, hold the promise of empowering women to take control of their bodies and lives, addressing existing challenges in medical care and research. However, the FemTech industry remains largely unregulated, particularly concerning security, privacy, and safety. Given the highly sensitive nature of the data involved, these issues can potentially lead to catastrophic consequences. Working with the artists and designers has been fantastic and I’m delighted with the ways in which they have brought the issues such as algorithmic bias and trustworthy data to life”.

Members of the PETRAS community may also be interested in the CyberMi2 Symposium which will feature presentations from various research projects investigating cybersecurity and online privacy for minority and minoritized people preceding the exhibition launch on the 20th June. Please visit the CyberMi2 event site for more information.

For further inquiries please contact Joe Bourne, PETRAS Creative Communications Research Fellow, at joe.bourne@ucl.ac.uk.