September 23, l997
Day 4 of The Cyberfeminist International
Today was another day of glorious fall weather. Most of us are beginning to feel much more comfortable and happy here. Our nomadic workspace home is self-organizing as cyfems gather around 11 AM every day to clean up, plan the day, prepare their presentations, work on their taskforces, teach each other new nettricks, check their e-mail, and smoke (or fight with the nonsmoker-a nonsmoker). There has been a fairly steady core of women here all week with others coming and going.
Good News: Last night we had our first live video connection on enhanced CU_SeeMe, and after five minutes we were asked to show our tits. So we showed them the (.)(.) stickers and they were a big hit. So now we've added a new sign to the cyberlexicon. We will be getting the address to all of you very soon and hope that Debra Solomon will be able to join us virtually from Amsterdam after she returns there today.
Today we experimented with opening up the private part of the workspace to the public during our presentation time between 3 and 6 PM. It is very interesting how much time we have spent thinking about and experimenting with our interface with the public, who are incredibly curious about what we are doing in here. This experiment worked pretty well, the people who came in and stayed seemed quite interested in the presentations--we even had one of the quiz contestants come back and stay all afternoon.
Tuesday's public program started with Alla Mitrofanova's presentation:"cyber/net/schizo-feminist embodiment." This was a complex and fascinating attempt to present the outlines of a theory of cyberfeminist embodiment as a database of intensity rather than an object. Metaphor: "Cyberfeminism is a loudspeaker which can transmit our creative excercises" (Alla). After showing a quick CD of bodymorph images which demonstrated the possibility that a multiplicity of bodies can inhabit the same "space", and using a provocative graph as an experimental "operative model", Alla gave a short summary of the history of ways of constructing the body as an object. To this she counterposed a cyberfeminist model of "feminism as a browser to see life" since this is not a time to produce a concrete world picture. This browser sees the body as intensity which connects energetically and desiringly with other intensities; which produces organs as a response to specific events and creative necessities of the moment; which is presence and process rather than organized structure; which is hypertextual and has no gender program. So, an embodied intense database as an operative model of creation, of becoming, of happiness.
The second event was a surprise appearance of token male becoming-cyberfeminist, nettime's own Pit Schultz! interviewed by Julianne Pierce. Pit spoke briefly about the history and development of nettime and the hybrid workspace. Hybridity here is not just the different groups living/working within the same space, but also the intersections of the physical space and the electronic space. Pit pointed out that the workgroups for the most part had spent more time on the mediations of the physical space than the electronic space. Nettime is interested in making all kinds of e-spaces visible and in how to make different media count and work not only in e-space (and how to counter the hegemony of TV too). On Cyberfeminism: Pit sees this as a tactical term which has to be substantiated by practices. Many women have been working with e-media for a long time but not many are visible in the public sphere. There followed a short discussion of the lack of postings by women on nettime. Pit feels it is only a matter of time, that women have to develop their own modes of expression and interaction with the list. Separatism can be productive as long as there is permeability and leads to export modes. Pit feels that CF is an important new wave of Netculture. We thank Pit very much for his support.
The third presenter was Kerstin Weinberg who showed parts of a video of her installation and performance "Sanctus: The Profaned Body" (shown at the ICA in London) in which she performed as Dona Matrix. The work plays with ideas of transgender; Dona Matrix encased in a machinic armored suit with only her genitals visible is the interface between audience and machine. The work is about redefining one's own sexual body and personae, and about new definitions of self through connections to the new media and machines. We began an interesting discussion about the contrasts between this work and that of Stelarc, for example.
Our closed CF discussion centered on trying to identify what the
important topics were that we are here to talk about. We discussed the
interview with Pit and talked further about our relationship to nettime
(which is a very close and permeable yet also problematic one). Then
Cornelia asked:Why are we here, and what do we want from this week?
Ideas and topics flowed thick and fast and we were not able to discuss
them all in detail. Some of the topics: We agree that we do not want any
definitions or consensus on cyberfeminism. Instead we might come up with
a list of 100 anti-theses or non-definitions. We want to create
platforms and strategies for transmitting the ideas and presence of
cyberfeminism. These might include a letter to festivals, venues, and
museums offering cyfem workshops, presentations, speakers and
artprojects. We want to be proactive and produce chaos, surprise,
intensity, texts, appearances, works. Some of us want to develop a
politics of cyberfeminism which connects to issues facing women
globally. The evening ended on a note of excitement and optimism and the
promise that we will begin on specific taskforces (such as the public
relations TF tomorrow).