:: Sunday, March 20, 2005 ::
WOMEN IN NET.ART::A TRIBUTE
by Ana Boa-Ventura
Similar to what happened with the feminist video art movement of the 70s, women artists found in "the digital" a refreshing new ground for work. Often questioning the relationship between machine and body, suggesting reformulations of the"interface" and proposing a reconsideration of the tangible in that which is virtual, the list of women who have created work or written words that influence us to this day is endless.
Books such as Brenda Laurel's "Computers as Theater", Sherry Turkle's "Life on the Screen" speak of new scenarios that needed to be articulated and that have stayed with us to this day. In 1996, Laurel said that it was time for the computer engineers to step aside and give way to experts in drama: playwriters, actors and stage directors. In 1994, Turkle told us that one is likely to get a condescending attitude and constant offers for unsolicited "help" when using a woman's screen name. These scenarios described new relationships of power and gender and warned about a perpetuation of certain discourseS beyond the medium used.
Artists such as Char Davies, Victoria Vesna or Thecla Schiphorst introduced ideas that are fundamental to feminism to this day. Davies proves with her seminal work 'Osmosis' that aesthetics and content need not be excluded from technological development. Vesna incessantly studies how communication technologies shape collective behaviors and shift perceptions of identity. Schiphorst coined the term "participatory installation" and speaks of pieces that evolve, through an almost organic relationship between installation and "audience".
Brenda, Sherry, Char, Victoria, Thecla: without them net.art would be a
little bit poorer.