[ISEA2011] Paper: Vanessa Maia Ramos-Velasquez – Digital Anthropophagy and the Anthropophagic Re-Manifesto for the Digital Age


I have written a thesis-essay about cultural cannibalism in the digital age as well as a manifesto-poem with a new take on the original “Manifesto Antropófago” written by the Brazilian modernist author Oswald de Andrade in 1928. His manifesto was an assertion of the unique Brazilian voice in the emerging modern time, away from clichés of colonialism, while unapologetically metabolizing outside references from the First World. My “Digital Anthropophagy” paper containing the “Anthropophagic Re-Manifesto for the Digital Age” seeks to update the anthropophagic practice of cultural cannibalism with regard to the digital age, where the virtual world is the new frontier, and everyone a possible colonizer.

The term “Anthropophagy” comes from anthropos, “human being”, phagein, “to eat”). The main definitions are:

1. Cannibalism, as the eating of human flesh by a human or humans
2. Self-cannibalism, as the eating of one’s own flesh
3. Eucharist, the ceremonial eating of the body of Jesus as wine and bread

In my view, these forms of cannibalism have transmutated into a new form, which I would like to propose as Digital Anthropophagy, meaning:

-The sum of the anthropophagic practices if done virtually, i.e., with the aid of computers, social networking platforms or other digital devices; or if executed in reality but facilitated digitally.
-A new paradigm of input/output models generated via the internet.
-A new practice of cultural consumption involving a technological mediation for input (both the feeding and the being fed), digestion, and output.

The core subjects of my paper and manifesto are: colonization of thought and a new sphere of global influence, spread of ideas and the new phenomenology of humanistic interactions in the digital age, remix and recycle culture and “fair use” issues, inversion of the traditional vertical mass media methodology undermined by the advent of public as new producer of culture, and self-expression of the internetworked society as a bridge to immortality. Throughout, I examine the new acculturation processes in an era where all colonies have already proclaimed their independence and the virtual world is the new frontier to be conquered, putting into question once again: who is the cannibal?

  • Vanessa Maia Ramos-Velasquez is an interdisciplinary artist from Brazil, who has acquired a diverse background along her various global residencies due to an Anthropophagic hunger to consume the world. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Kansas, USA, where she pioneered a special program in Interdisciplinary Studies in Art, Design, Film and Choreography. Her transmedia experiments led her to develop an artistic practice with performance art, installation, videoart, videodance and cameraless direct animation films. Following Stan Brakhages’s footsteps, she also moved from Kansas (where she was a neighbor of beat poet and writer William S. Burroughs), to New York, and now lives in Berlin.Her films, videoart and VJ shows have been presented at various events and venues including The Chelsea Art Museum (New York), Barcelona’s Off Loop Festival, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, and nightclubs in Rio de Janeiro, New York, Beijing, and Berlin.  She has won the prestigious Flusser Award Distinction of Transmediale’s Vilém Flusser Theory Award 2011 with her theoretical and performative work Digital Anthropophagy and the Anthropophagic Re-Manifesto for the Digital Age, about cultural cannibalism in the age of digital culture. This is the work being presented at ISEA2011/Istanbul which was first introduced at ISEA2010/RUHR during the conference on Electronic Culture: Cyborgs and Transhumans. It has been recently performed at Emergeandsee Media Arts Festival – Berlin, and at the Brazilian art event Perpendicular – Berlin. It will be presented next at the Moscow Biennale at the special program from MediaArtLab Pro&Contra Symposium:Media Activism; at the International Congress Image, Imagination, Fantasy. Twenty years without Vilém Flusser organized by Associação Brasileira de Estética (ABRE) in Ouro Preto – Brazil; and a virtual performance for the exhibit program at ABCiber Conference in Florianópolis – Brazil.

Full text (PDF) p. 1990-1997