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Future Speak at the Adelaide Festival

Linda Wallace


Norrie Neumark will morph (or at least she’ll talk about it). Allucquere Rosanne Stone will talk of desire, vampirism, memory and multiple entry from the standpoint of cultural and trans-human theory. Linda Dement wants your body bits, and Minski will take you on a mouse-sexy hyperware tech tour. Ready?

The day is February 26; the place: Elder Hall, Adelaide; the event: Future Languages, as curated by VNS Matrix, four cyber-feminists with attitude.

The members of VNS Matrix end Artists’ Week in the future: “from cyborgs to VR, life in the ‘developed’ world is increasingly mediated by technological devices. How will we experience ourselves and others in the future?” they ask. “Who will be in control?”

Future Languages, with the help of a host of international and Australian artists, will investigate the challenges of high technology culture. The first challenge of the day will no doubt be Simon Penney, beamed as a welcoming tele-presence live from his seat as the first Associate Professor in Art and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA. Post-Penney, Future Languages starts talking.

Queenslander Glenda Nader is fascinated by the voices/languages of answering machines and other recorded messages as private/public, differently sexed, tele-presences. During Future Languages, she’ll discuss the techno-anatomical body as aesthetic model. Nader, an artist and writer, says she has a compulsion to seek out the points of rupture in the ‘informatics of domination’ (to quote Donna Harraway). This compulsion has taken the form of research into “how women can/are making themselves in cyberspace rather than see ourselves as we have been seen in the old media.”

One artist who will be remaking women literally, and inviting participation, is Linda Dement. Throughout the day she’ll be co-ordinating the workshop Cyberflesh Girl-monster in the tradition of Mary Shelley, Identikit and Helene Cixous. Dement asks that you “donate your bits—whatever you can scan in will be what she is made of.”

The workshop will be an opportunity for women to put their own flesh and thoughts into cyberspace as a bodily presence, using languages of gesture, skin, muscle, fantasy, flesh and words. Participants will be able to take the bodies of data away on floppy disc for further manipulations.

Dement says that the workshop is to be a women’s representation in the new techno realms: something other than Macplaymate, Virtual Valerie, calendar girl screen-savers and online porn.

Maria Fernandez will discuss technology in the colonial and post-colonial cultural inflection. Sally Prior, an Australian computer artist, will explore the possibilities of interactive multimedia through an artwork set in a Tunisian context and Ken Wark will talk about computer games in techno-speak.

Sadie Plant from the UK will deliver a paper titled “Cybernetic Hookers: Women, drugs and intelligent machines.” From Western Australia, Zoe Sofoulis is on the same panel, titled Cyborg Surgery, and will present a text dealing with women artists and technology, cars and prosthetics.

Ian Howard, an artist and academic from Queensland, has for more than 20 years concentrated on an investigation of the relationship between military and civilian populations. For Future Languages he poses the question, “Wailing over spilt milk: the legacy of the military century, what might have been.”

At the end of the day, we may be in a better position to know what will be.

RealTime issue #1 June-July 1994 pg. 11

© Linda Wallace; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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