Cyberfeminism Sadie Plant Nonidentity to Posthumanity
Cyberfeminism Sadie Plant Clinton Smith _ 310147259
Matrix of Connectivity and Nonidentity Narratologies and Re-writing Humanity
the matrix … we are the virus of the new world disorder disrupting the symbolic from within saboteurs of big daddy mainframe the clitoris is a direct line to the matrix VNS MATRIX terminators of the moral code… from the Cyberfeminist Manifesto
context… Before we commence, lets set the scene: INT. CYBERSPACE. NIGHT AVATAR turns to their reflection in the mirror: a digital Jacques Lacan looks back. AVATAR You talk’in to me?
context… Excusing the drug references and swearing, but in keeping with the irreverence of Cyberpunk and some Cyberfeminist Hacktivits, gaze on this: http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v = wwlirZQLAAg Youtube, Jacques Lacan in 1 minute, store for later. Or for a longer version, a lecture on Lacan given at Yale: http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=lkAXsR5WINc&feature=related
more context… Who are we talking to online? Whether its an AFP officer, expert in masquerading as an underage girl, for operations in the cyber sex-crimes unit, A middle age man masquerading as an oversexed nubile via his Avatar in 2nd Life, A jilted teenager, who has set up a false facebook account masquerading as an ex lover and hell-bent on payback, Or an overseas criminal organisation sending emails masquerading as your bank manager.
more context… How do you know if you’re even talking to a person? “ No computer has ever passed the Turing Test to see if, during text-based conversation, a machine can be indistinguishable from a person. But Elbot just came pretty close.” BBC's Mark (Lobel [1.]) in 2008
more context… Yeah man, we really connected, or did we? NONIDENTITY is the Matrix, and CONNECTIVITY is the Matrix. … web paradox?
the matrix… “ Once upon a time tomorrow never came… ” (Plant [2.]) until, that is the Rhizome, Cyberspace, Virtuality; in this context, the Matrix, was created, resulting in a new and unprecedented fluidity of identity, awarding transcendence to those of the nonidentity . Plant outlines how the Matrix frees Women of Man controlled identity, from identity defined as male, which previously “… women can either accept, adapt to, or refuse all together.” (Plant [2.])
the matrix… Following on from her acclaimed 1997 book which includes a history of Ada Lovelace’s involvement in the Analytic Engine. As explained in Plant’s reboot of Irigaray, “ On The Matrix. Cyberfeminist simulations.” it is Woman’s very fluidity of nonidentity which allows her to seize control of the Matrix. Plant’s Cyberfeminists, “… replicunts write programs, paint viral images, fabricate weapon systems, infiltrate the arts and the industry. They are … preventing the codes, corrupting the transmissions, multiplying zeros, … (as they) hack into the controls of Oedipal man … Big Daddy Mainframe.” (Plant [2.])
the matrix … In her exploration of VNS (pronounced Venus) Matrix, drawing from seminal Feminist and Critical Theorist Luce Irigaray, Sadie Plant “weaves together a genuine her-story of technology … reaching into the complex relationship between women and machines. This relationship, tied up in problems surrounding identity, technology and the body, is at the heart of the contemporary movement called Cyberfeminism.” (Galloway, Alex [3.]) from “A Report on Cyberfeminism. Sadie Plant relative to VNS Matrix.” Switch. Electronic Gender: Art at the Interstice. San José State University.
the matrix … “… in Latin the word (for womb) is matrix, or matter, both the mother and the material. In Necromancer, William Gibson calls it ‘the nonspace’, a ‘vastness … where the faces were shredded and blown away down hurricane corridors’ (Gibson 1997:45). It is the imperceptible ‘elsewhere’ of which Irigaray speaks, the hole that is neither something or nothing; newly accessible virtual space … If the phallus guarantees man’s identity … it is also that which cuts him off from the abstract machinery of a world he thinks he owns.” (Plant [2.])
luce irigaray… “ Born 1932 LUCE IRIGARAY is a Belgian feminist, philosopher, linguist, psychoanalytic sociologist and cultural theorist. She is best known for her works Speculum of the Other Woman (1984) and This Sex Which Is Not One (1988). … Irigaray is inspired by the psychoanalytic theories of Freud and Lacan, the philosophy of Levinas and the deconstruction of Derrida. Her work aims to reveal a perceived masculinist philosophy underlying language and gestures toward a "new" feminine language that would allow women to express themselves outside of a phallocentric discourse.” (Wikipedia [4.])
vns matrix… “ Emerging from Adelaide Australia in the early nineties, a group of artists and activists, calling themselves VNS Matrix, published the first Cyberfeminist Manifesto. From this the cyberfeminist movement began to grow and shift. It began to coalesce around Europe. And on September 20, 1998 in Kassel, Germany, the First Cyberfeminist International met at Documenta X, an international exhibition of contemporary art.” (Galloway [3.])
legacy of vns matrix… Staying true to the Irigaray-Plant continuum of nonidentity they “… refused to define the school of thought, but instead drafted the "100 Anti-Theses of Cyberfeminism" to refuse closure or classification. Their rules are multilingual and nonrestrictive. The underlying assumption is that there can be no definition because that only limits what cyberfeminism is.” (Wikipedia [5.]) #30. Cyberfeminism is not without connectivity #100. Cyberfeminism has not only one language from the 100 Anti-Theses of Cyberfeminism
zeitgeist… Paying homage to Sadie Plant, Carolyn Guertin notes that “Cyberfeminism was born at a particular moment in time, about 1992, simultaneously at three different points on the globe. In Canada, Nancy Paterson, a celebrated high tech installation artist, penned an article called "Cyberfeminism" for Stacy Horn's Echo Gopher server. In Australia, VNS Matrix (Josephine Starrs, Julianne Pierce, Francesca da Rimini and Virginia Barratt) coined the term to label their radical feminist acts and their blatantly viral agenda: to insert women, bodily fluids, and political consciousness into electronic spaces. That same year, British cultural theorist Sadie Plant chose the same term to describe her recipe for defining the feminizing influence of technology on western society and its inhabitants.” (Guertin [6.])
women’s nonidentity… Plant highlights Irigaray’s “first discovery: that patriarchy … (is) an economy, for which women are the first and founding commodities. It is a system in which exchanges ‘take place exclusively between men. .. and the women are supposed to exist ‘only as … mediation, … transference – between man and his fellow-creatures, indeed between man and himself’ … Women have served as his media and interfaces, … (including) passing on his genetic code.” (Plant [2.])
man’s locked identity… Ultimately it is not Faust who benefits from his pact with the Devil, but his estranged wife. Akin to De Certeau’s notion that “the Hegemony’s expansion would lead to its self-defeat” Plant asserts: (Plant [2.])
man’s locked identity… “ Men may think and women may fear that they are on top of the situation, pursuing the surveillance and control of nature to unprecedented extremes, integrating their forces in the final consolidation of technocratic fascism. But Cyberspace is out of man’s control: virtual reality destroys his identity, digitalization is mapping his soul and, at the peak of his triumph, the culmination of his machinic erections, man confronts the system he built for his own protection and finds it is female and dangerous.” (Plant [2.]) As with the myth of Faust, in the spectral avatar of Helen of Troy.
cyberfeminist hacktivists… ... (the hackivists are) remarkable as tools for global mobilization and peaceful protest. It is clear that they are very effective at allowing women's voices to be heard.” (Guertin [6.])
cyberfeminist hacktivists… Carolyn Guertin explains “Postfeminisms do not inhabit a network; they are the network of feminist discourse in virtual space. … hyperlinked text is both a narratological structure and the means of navigation in space and time. In the webbed space of hyperlinked fiction, … the nodes exist in conjunction with the dynamic space of the journey and cannot be discussed in isolation. So with the newest literary forms of the postfeminist universe.” (Guertin [6.])
cyberfeminist hacktivists… “… the most important and distinctive Web-native postfeminist form is, (argues Guertin), hacktivism. … The term was first coined in 1999 to describe an emerging hybrid form that united the best attributes of peaceful social protest - activism - and tech-savvy online civil disobedience – hackerism. It is a solution-oriented form of political action that inserts bodies and media-based dissent into real time material concerns.” (Guertin [6.])
feminist narratology… In her paper “Feminist narratology? Literary and linguistic perspectives on gender and narrativity.” Ruth E. Page, of University of Central England, argues… “… a series of critical re-evaluations may be put forward that suggest there is further work yet to be done in developing feminist narratology.” (Page [7.])
feminist narratology… However as we will see in the practical real-time hacktivism of some Cyberfeminist heroines, the new Women’s voice is clearly heard, as is Women’s new media control in the telling of her story.
feminist narratology… Yvonne Volkart of Cyberfeminist alliance the Old Boys Network, said:
hacktivist heroines… “ Hacktivism as a praxis was born in December 1998 when Critical Art Ensemble member and software engineer Carmin Karasic was so appalled by the events of the Acteal Massacre - 45 Zapatistas were murdered at the hands of the Mexican government - that she set out to create a Web interface that would perform political protest as an aesthetic act. … (she formed) a collective named the Electronic Disturbance Theatre (Guertin [6.]) Electronic Disturbance Theater, Zapatista Floodnet, 1998
hacktivist heroines… Their electronic civil disobedience engine is named FloodNet ; funded by RTMark and launched in September 1999, it is Karasic's brainchild in her war against injustice. Filling the browser page with the names of the dead, this activism tool "would access the page for Mexico's President Zedillo seeking bogus addresses, so the browser would return messages like "human_rights not found on this server" (Cassell).” (Guertin [6.])
hacktivist heroines… “… the Electronic Disturbance Theatre alerts its "online activists to `commence flooding!’” … As a postfeminist work, it is no accident that FloodNet must function as a community-based performance: FloodNet's action only drew its validity from the number of people showing support. "It was only actualized through thousands and thousands of participants," (Karasic) remembers.” (Guertin [6.])
next where?.. Is Cyberspace the first threshold crossing step taken towards humanity’s complete identity re-engineering? Surely once the physical technology of biological and mechanical science catches-up, which evidentially it must; then, perhaps issues of gender will be obsolete in the lives of posthumans.
where next… Let’s return to Lacan’s Mirror Stage, when the child realizes they are not symbiotically one with ‘the other’, the Imago, the misrecognised ideal of personified mother sustenance; and therefore only have their own deficit internal self to contend with, the Ego, a disappointing and alienating identification. Think of the ‘ mirror’ as an interface?
where next… We could ask is Cyberspace the greatest attempt to shatter Lacan’s Mirror and create a schism for the Ego to pass thru and reunite with the Imago? For a reengineered Ego+Imago. Furturist Raymond Kurzweil, renowned for 30 years of uncannily accurate technological (and related) predictions, argues that ‘ technological singularity’ will occur by approximately the year 2040: allowing for complete transformation into the posthuman.
next where?.. DNA is a code, what’s your update?
next where?.. In 2040, could you imagine yourself as a dual-gender- cyborg-pussycat-auquatic- bird-person-wirelessly-merged- cyber-consciousness-collective? 1997 A posthuman. In critical theory the posthuman is a speculative being that represents or seeks to enact a re-writing of what is generally conceived of as human.
changing… Futurist prophesies aside, it must be asked what real impact current technologies are having on the human condition, subconscious self-perception and behavior: Do you control your Computer or does your computer control you?
changing… New York Times columnist, Anand Giridharadas “… argues that just like computers, human beings are now becoming obsessed with figures, with putting a numeric value on everything. In short, he says we humans are now starting to think like computers.” intros Antony Funnell, presenter. ABC Radio National, (Future Tense. [8.]) “ Trixie Telemetry tries to bring the same quantification that you might use on an economy, to the raising of a baby.” (Future Tense. [8.])
are we changing? ... Critiques of Second Life and other Cyberspace Addictions. "Carolyn is a 38 year-old mother of four in the midst of a passionate affair that is tearing her family apart. She's spending up to 19 hours a day with her lover, and her husband is in despair. But the extraordinary thing about this affair is that Carolyn's lover is man she has never met. Because he's not a human being. He's an avatar (or computer generated figure), who exists only in the virtual world of Second Life. And their relationship exists only in cyberspace." (BBC documentary. [9.])
sublime to the ridiculous ... There will always be naysayers of the new realm of identity re-engineering . Times Online shock columnist Helen Rumbelow: “ But what of Elliot, the single man from London and (Carolyn’s) Second Life lover? OK, so alarm bells were ringing from the moment … he described the look of his (avatar) – “I just wear jeans and weapons, right now I’m wearing a sword and two Uzis” – as somehow a reflection of his real manhood. ... (maybe) “second” is accurate for those who have no life in the first place.“ (Rumbelow [10.])
questions ... Query 1: “ Before you run out the door, consider two things: The future is already set, only the past can be changed, and if it was worth forgetting, it’s not worth remembering. (Cadigan, Pat. 1994, Cyberpunk author) Cyber-revolution is virtually real.” (Plant [2.]) Query 2: Do you think that the unconscious osmosis of technological traits into human cognition holds a glimmer of hope for even the identity stitched Man of Irigaray and Plant, or not? Look at Elliot, for instance. That is, as long as he is no longer a man, and rather a nonidentity or nonman, could Elliot even change?
citations ... 1.Lobel, Mark. BBC News Magazine. UK, October 26, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7670050.stm (accessed April 6, 2010) 2. Plant, Sadie. “On The Matrix. Cyberfeminist simulations.” Cybercultures Reader. London and New York: Routledge, 2000. 325-337. 3. Galloway, Alex. “A Report on Cyberfeminism. Sadie Plant relative to VNS Matrix.” Switch. Electronic Gender: Art at the Interstice. San José State University. http://switch.sjsu.edu/web/v4n1/alex.html (accessed April 14, 2010) 4. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luce_Irigaray (accessed March 24, 2010) 5. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberfeminism (accessed March 24, 2010) 6. Guertin, Carolyn. “From Cyborgs to Hacktivists: Postfeminist Disobedience and Virtual Communities.” Electronic Book Review. electronicbookreview.com/thread/writingpostfeminism/hackpacifist (accessed April 4, 2010) 7. Page, Ruth. "Feminist narratology? Literary and linguistic perspectives on gender and narrativity." University of Central England, UK. SAGE Online. Language and Literature, Vol. 12, No. 1, 43-57 (February 2003) http://lal.sagepub.com/cgi/content/short/12/1/43 (accessed April 9, 2010) 8. Antony Funnell, presenter. New York Times columnist, Anand Giridharadas, guest. ABC Radio National, Future Tense. (broadcast March 11, 2010) 9. BBC documentary. “Wonderland: Virtual Adultery and Cyberspace Love.” British Broadcast Commission, UK, 2008. 10. Rumbelow, Helen. “Wonderland: Virtual Adultery and Cyberspace Love. Last night's TV.” The Times (online). UK, January 31, 2009. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article3288998.ece (accessed March 20, 2010)