An Oral History of the First Cyberfeminists

Claire L. Evans

In the heady early years of the World Wide Web, four Australian women— Josephine Starrs, Julianne Pierce, Francesca da Rimini and Virginia Barratt—made fierce and funny feminist art under the name VNS Matrix. They were part of a cultural movement called ​Cyberfeminism, which peaked in the early 1990s and dissipated sometime between the bursting of the dot com bubble and the coming of Y2K.

VNS Matrix worked in a wide variety of media: computer games, video installations, events, texts, and billboards. In their iconic “​Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century,” they called themselves the “virus of the new world disorder,” and “terminators of the moral codes.” With this irreverent, but keenly political language, they articulated a feminist aesthetic of slimy, unpretty, vigilantly nose-thumbing technological anarchy.

They coded. They built websites. They hung out in chat rooms and text-based online communities like ​LambdaMOO. They told stories through interactive code and experiences like the CD-ROM game All New Gen, in which a female protagonist fought to defeat a military-industrial data environment called “Big Daddy Mainframe.” They believed the web could be a space for fluid creative experimentation, a place to transform and create in collaboration with a global community of like-minded artists.

Publication Details

Online Journal
An Oral History of the First Cyberfeminists
Claire L. Evans
Motherboard, Vice, Dec 11 2014, English
Vice Media, New York, NY USA

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