Timeframe: 2013-2014
Funder: New Media Scotland Alt-W, Scottish Government

Leishman’s work Front is a pre-programmed Facebook parody that addresses the major issues of social media – privacy and voyeurism. Front’s interface whilst mimicking the immersive, interaction rich promise of social media, instead reminds us of where the power structures lie, and what is often freely given up by the user/viewer. Developed in 2014 as part of the Scottish Government, New Media Scotland Alt-W and NHS 24’s ‘Project Ginsberg’ – Front was commissioned with an overall goal to help start a conversation around young persons’ mental health and wellbeing. Alongside raising questions about online culture, the project adapts the myth of Daphne and Apollo to explore female experience(s) within social media, confronting notions of what is real when creating (and consuming) ‘public’ images of self.

Front is available and freely accessible online via
The project was launched as an installation (website, digital projection, visual print) as part of the New Media Scotland: Alt-W showcase exhibition in 2014 for the Edinburgh Art Festival and ran Aug 1st – Sat 30 Aug. The project was also peer selected to be included in a group exhibition “Interventions: Engaging the Body Politic.” Venue: USF Verftet, Bergen, Norway. This exhibition was part of the Electronic Literature Organization 2015: The End(s) of Electronic Literature, Aug 4th – 7th

Following this exhibition, Front was reviewed by Davin Heckman who offers:
“Donna Leishman’s Front personalizes the specter of digital surveillance through a dystopian revision of Apollo and Daphne rendered in social media simulation. To experience the work, users log into Front, a Facebook-esque social media platform, as Daphne. One must check off the work’s compulsory “”Terms of Service.” Over the course of play, the poetics of which carries the reader through the interaction, the user is pursued by a relentless (and harassing) suitor, and, like the mythical Daphne, escapes by becoming a tree. In Front, Leishman carves out a dystopian meditation on the dynamics of social media, the question of agency, and the power of social surveillance on identity.”
“Impossible Interventions.” Hyperrhiz: New Media Cultures, no. 14, 2016.

Lastly, Leishman was interviewed by Roderick Coover (Professor of Film and Media Arts at Temple University) and Sandy Baldwin (Associate Professor of English at the Rochester Institute of Technology) to discuss the goals and motivations of Front. This interview titled ‘The Metamorphoses Of Front As A Narrative Told Through Social Media Interface: A Conversation With Donna Leishman’ is now published in the Digital Imaginary on the Emerging Shapes of Literary, Cinematic, and Database Art published by Bloomsbury (Nov 2019)