"We are the malignant accident which fell into your system while you were sleeping. And when you wake we will terminate your digital delusions, hijacking your impeccable software"
Bitch Mutant Manifesto was written for ARS Electronica in April 1996, and was very different in tone than the playful, if fierce, Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century. It was written by the members of VNS Matrix alone, then together. A mashing, a weaving. This collaged text was made in the style of textual plunderphonics, taking earlier texts and ideas and changing register, tone and timbre. The readers and the writers are catapulted from narrative to narrative, traveling through wormholes inside wormholes. Now you are a body of indeterminate gender, now you are a body of code, now you are elemental, burning down the “Californian ideology” and the extropians with it. It’s dangerous territory, the reader is warned: “lock up your children, gaffer tape the cunt’s mouth and shove a rat up her arse”.
The “combative aesthetics” inherent in this text mirror the increasing complexity of the social world and the political domain at a time when Neoliberal ideology and practices were cementing their power, restoring wealth to the elite. The writing is by turns ecstatic, ugly, coarse, brutal and gothic. The text was forged via heated debate around terminology, propriety and pathology. Maybe it comes as no surprise that this text has not spread as virally as the first manifesto. It’s longer, messier, less appealing to feminists of a certain stripe. There is no gesture towards academic discourse, and little care for poetic prettiness. There is still an eroticism, but distanced from the “ecriture feminine” referenced in the first manifesto. The eroticism is more malignant, creeping inside your system while you are sleeping. It flips switches and spits epithets leaving you with the fuck you lines
eat code and die / flame me if you dare
None of us remember delivering this manifesto at Ars Electronica, but we do remember sitting on the robotics-themed panel. Confused as to why we had been placed on such a panel, alongside ‘serious robot developers’, VNS gave an ironic and speculative talk about the kinds of services to humans that they envisaged robots of the future might perform. Of course, sex and cocktails were part of their playful yet pragmatic vision. Porn has driven internet development forever (and let’s not forget the origin story of VNS…), so it is only natural to suggest that robots, let alone artificial intelligences, would be driven by the same desire-lines. We struck a chord because the so-called father of computing took doll yoko aside and gave her a dressing down, dirty irreverent doll! The group had insulted his grand vision. We were at our jovial worst, there is no doubt, at this point, but this was certainly not the first time that we had been censured for not “taking technology seriously”
- Conference Ars Electronica 1996. LInz, Austria
- Revisiting Cyberfeminism in Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 2011