VNS Matrix - "DNA SLUTS" digital image from hypothetical computer game, ALL NEW GEN
HEAVY CYBER BABE Julianne Pierce...
In 1991, in a cosy Australian city called Adelaide, four bored girls decided to have some fun with art and French feminist theory. Creating themselves as a mini corporation, VNS Matrix, they made their first text/artwork 'A cyberfeminist manifesto for the 21st Century'; with homage to Donna Haraway they began to play around with the idea of cyberfeminism.
As with many corporate slogans, cyberfeminism caught on, and like a wave of grrrl glory it spread its tentacles to many far reaching places. Beginning as if by spontaneous combustion, from a few hot nodes in Europe, America and Australia, cyberfeminism became a viral meme infecting theory, art and the academy. It arose as a response to popular culture - video games, the internet and especially Gibson's notion of cyberpunk. If the new breed of techno-cowboys could jack-in at will, well so could the grrrls. And with a vengeance, girls got digital and used the language of the new techno-culture to create their own conceptual vanguard.
Cyberfeminism was about ideas, irony, appropriation and hands-on skilling up in the data terrain. It combined a utopic vision of corrupting patriarchy with an unbounded enthusiasm for the new tools of technology. It embraced gender and identity politics, allowing fluid and non-gendered identities to flourish through the digital medium. The post corporeal female would be an online frontier woman, creating our own virtual worlds and colonising the amorphous world of cyberspace. This first version of cyberfeminism was a flame, a moment, a spam which became hip. It was an impulse which became a commodity. Cyberfeminism is an incredibly important 'movement', it somehow embraces a growing groundswell of activism and access for women using all forms of digital media. It is certainly a 'feminism', as it advocates that women participate in creating and defining the present and future of techno culture. But somehow the 'feminism' is the problem, some of the old guard see it as a vacuous fashion statement (a sort of cyberspice), and the young guard don't need feminism anymore. So in this time of labels and brand names, perhaps we should abandon 'cyberfeminism'.
There is no longer one cyberfeminism, there are now many cyberfeminisms - as it grows and mutates and is adapted by the growing number of digital tribes. The updated version of cyberfeminism is more about networking, webgrrrls, geek girls, FACES, OBN, online publishing, career prospects, list servers and international conferences. It's about Hybrid Workspace and the 100 anti-thesis, it's about getting grants and funding to create opportunities to meet and make work. It's about training and creating opportunities, making money, doing business and doing deals. It's embracing diversity and difference, being opinionated, being loud and at times staying quiet. But the key to all of this is information, in the information society, to get ahead you must control the commodity. Information is political, it's a weapon, and the more knowledge we have, the more powerful we are.
The early heady days of cyberfeminism created a space where the imagination could fire, gender could be re-written and the promise of the post human released us from the drudgery of post modern identity crisis. These spaces are important for dreaming, for creating a space for otherness - but while we confront our subjectivities, Bill Gates is making $500 a second. Big Daddy is flourishing and the suits control the data stream. The new cyberfeminism is about confronting the top-down with the bottom-up, creating a culture where the info heavy cyber babe can create her own space within a complex and clever info society. It's about creating foundations to build upon, so that in the next millennium we can carve own our paths, create our own corporations...in the words of VNS Matrix - "unbounded, unleashed, unforgiving...we are the future cunt".
BIO OF JULIANNE PIERCE Her work with the collaborative digital art group VNS Matrix is internationally renowned and has been presented in major international festivals and exhibitions. She is a regular speaker at conferences on new media and has had articles published in The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald and international journals. Curatorial events and exhibitions include encryption corruption (online exhibition for The Physics Room, NZ); Code Red (international and Australian artists investigating new media and information technologies, November 1997) and Critical Media for the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art (October 1995). In Sept 1997, she was a co-organiser (with the Old Boys Network) of the First Cyberfeminist International at Hybrid Workspace, Documenta X. In 1998, she was a commissioned artist in the Artrage: Works for Television (ABC) series, and created a short video Olympic City, a critique of invasion of public and private space. She is also the current recipient of an Australia Council New Media grant to create a video and web based work, intelligence agency, a feminist exploration of power, corruption and the media. She is currently working with Jeffrey Cook (3V Media) on developing a distribution outlet for Australian new media art (with assistance from the Australian Film Commission). She is the Producer of Uncle Bill, a CDROM artwork directed by Debra Petrovitch, and also works as part time Projects Co-ordinator for The Performance Space, Sydney. +++++++++++++++++++
Julianne Pierce interactive media artist and producer po box 1085 potts point nsw 2011 sydney, australia tel/fax (+61 2) 9130 3061Contact details: PO Box 1085 Potts Point NSW 2011 Sydney, Australia Tel/Fax: (+61 2) 9130 3061 email@example.com | http://sysx.org/~jules Julianne Pierce is an Australian new media curator, artist and producer. +++++++++++++++++++
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