At Motherboard, Claire Evans presents a brilliant "Oral History of the First Cyberfeminists, sharing bits of her correspondence with pioneering Australian tech-goddesses Josephine Starrs, Julianne Pierce, Francesca da Rimini and Virginia Barratt, four net artists who worked together under the pseudonym "VNS Matrix". It's awesome.
Evans met them as part of her exploration of the Cyberfeminism cultural movement, which she said "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.
Their work is part of a cool archive of art from a time when, they say, the internet was less masculine and capitalistic.