The VNS Matrix (Josephine Starrs, Julianne Pierce, Francesca da Rimini and Virginia Barratt) emerged from the cyberswamp during a Southern Australian Summer circa 1991, on a mission to hijack the toys from technocowboys and remap cyberculture with a feminist bent. VNS Matrix create hybrid electronic artworks which ironically integrate theory with popular culture.
VNS Matrix have come to electronic art through photography, film, video, music, performance, writing, feminism and cultural theory. The inpetus of the group is to investigate and decipher the narratives of domination and control which surround high technological culture, and
explore the construction of social space, identity and sexuality in cyberspace. The project which they pursue is one of debunking the masculinist myths which might alienate women from technological devices and their cultural products. They believe that women who hijack the tools of domination and control introduce a rupture into a highly systematised culture by infecting the machines with radical thought, diverting them from their inherent purpose of linear topdown mastery. Their first action was the dissemination of the ‘Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century’, which was placed in public sites, published in various academic, art and poular journals, and broadcast on community television and radio. The 6m x 3m billboard of the ‘Manifesto…’ has been widely exhibited. Their current project is the on-going development of All New Gen, an interactive computer artwork, and installation piece which takes the language of the computer game as it’s discursive context. The component parts of All New Gen are lightbox mounted large scale transparencies, audio works, video and sculptural structures. All New Gen’s mission, as anarcho cyber-terrorist is to undermine the “chromo-phallic patriarchal code” (1) and sow the seeds of the new world disorder in the databanks of Big Daddy Mainframe… The VNS Matrix are continuing their interrogation of the codes of popular technologies is their textual project ‘CorpusfantasticaMOO’ which sites itself within the mainframe of the Internet, the worldwide electronic communication network or the ‘information superhighway’ as the merchants of hype would have it. The VNS Matrix have exhibited in Adelaide, Minneapolis and Chicago and will tour to Helsinki, London, Toronto, Sydney, Melbourne over the next year. VNS Matrix is a self-governing system (2), replicating in dangerous and unexpected ways, coming soon to a terminal near you…
- Richard Grayson, ‘All New Gen’ catalogue essay, Adelaide 1993
- Prof. Sadie Plant , Birmingham University, makes a correllation between the increasingly unmanageable and unpredictable proliferation of ‘intelligent virii’ in computer systems, and the rise and rise of cyberfeminism. See her paper ‘Women, Drugs and Intelligent Machines’, presented at the Adelaide Festival’s 1994 Artists Week. She will be publishing a book on cyberfeminism entitled ‘Cybernetic Hookers’ in Britain later this year.
- VNS Matrix: Julianne Pierce, Josephine Starrs, Virginia Barratt, Francesca da Rimini. VNS Matrix is an Australian artists’ collaboration who create hybrid electronic artworks which ironically integrate theory with popular culture. As feminists, we explore language, sexuality and power from subversive and ambiguous positions. As cyberfeminists, our mission is to hijack technology and remap cyberspace.