By Hettie Judah
Do you know your IRL from your AFK? Ever heard of the mercenaries of slime? And what does all this have to do with the gloriously liberated feminist future the web was supposed to deliver? A mind-boggling conference at the ICA had the answers
You don't have to wear a hi-tech bodysuit to be a post-cyber feminist, though some did. The ICA's recent Post-Cyber Feminist International conference drew an arty crowd of intellectuals, feminists and the intellectual, feminist, gender non-conforming. Want to know what self-determined, non-gendered DIY fashion looks like at the gorgeous, bleeding edge? This was the place: with everything from experimental tailoring to rubber face masks, at times the dressed-up vibe verged on Comic-Con for PhD candidates.
Foul-mouthed, irreverent and sexually liberated, the original Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st century was written by the Australian collective VNS Matrix in 1991. Describing themselves as “mercenaries of slime” and proclaiming that “the future will be unmanned”, VNS Matrix evoked an era in which computer interactivity was radically sexualised and gloopily physical. They took the emerging technological paradigm – in which software penetrated hardware – and imagined its ultimate evolution. Six years later, the first Cyberfeminist International was held in Kassel, Germany, and the idea of a networked, feminist future was discussed in optimistic terms.