VNS Matrix

1991 | Adelaide, Australia
VNS Matrix — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Poster de VNS Matrix

Australian cyberfeminist media art collective.

A collaboration between four Australian artists – Virginia Barrett (1959), Francesca da Rimini (1956), Julianne Pierce and Josephine Starrs (1955) – VNS Matrix formed in Adelaide, South Australia, in 1991, and worked consistently as a group until 1997. The collective continue to collaborate periodically.
VNS Matrix is a transmedia collaborative project and a vehicle for the performative linguistics of technology, the body and gender. They are credited with coining the term “cyberfeminism” in 1991, independently but at a similar time as English cultural theorist Sadie Plant. Their focus is the gendering of technology in response to the rise of the internet, cyberspace, gaming, and how digital technology is articulated through the white, cis gendered, heterosexual male gaze. They seek to expand understandings of gender and bodies and disrupt how technology is used, while foregrounding who uses it and for what purposes.

Using visceral language and an “aesthetics of slime”, VNS Matrix’s strategies to counter the patriarchal, neoliberal and colonising forces that shape technology include camp and slapstick. Their projects have taken the form of billboards, posters, cinema advertising, gallery installations, sound works, texts, CD-ROM artworks and a computer game prototype. From the 2010s on, VNS Matrix have used their profile to spread memes and raise funds to support projects that align with their desire to disrupt sexist, racist and classist thinking and generate more intersectional narratives.

Calling themselves a cyberfeminst media art collective, VNS Matrix created their best known and most influential work The Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century in 1991, first exhibited on a 6 × 3 m billboard at the Tin Sheds Gallery in Sydney in 1992. With its origins in the text-based days of the early internet and ending with the line “corrupting the discourse, we are the future cunt”, The Cyberfeminist Manifesto continues to be a visceral, angry and funny assertion of the gendered discourses women still encounter in digital spaces. VNS Matrix have elaborated it through other texts such as the Bitch Mutant Manifesto (1994) and A Tender Hex for the Anthropocene (2016), underlining its enduring relevance.
In 2014 VNS Matrix collaborated with Australian sisters/art duo Soda_Jerk on Undaddy Mainframe (2015-2016), a video commissioned for the project Forever Now. Originally shown at MONA FOMA, the Australian summer festival of the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Forever Now was a collection of one-minute artworks to communicate to outer space about the planet and human race, with plans to be launched into space as a 21st century companion to the 1977 Voyager Golden Records. Soda_Jerk recreated The Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century using found 1990s instructional videos and a computer-generated voice to speak the manifesto. The collaboration as a form of open sourcing, co-creation and remixing is an elaboration of VNS Matrix’s push to reimagine the past and the future through altered pedagogies.

Dr Jane Polkinghorne

A notice produced as part of the TEAM international academic network: Teaching, E-learning, Agency and Mentoring

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