Feminist Internet Lore Manifesto: 10 working points for the 21 Century.

Working points

Every work of feminist art is political. It does not matter, whether it is validated to be claimed as such, or produced and made publicly accessible with the aim to interact with certain amounts of people and to achieve certain effects among them. It is constitutive for the current form of society that the apparatuses of communication are processing any piece of information, independently from the original intentions of its producers or the actual (perceived) needs of its consumers. Creating seeding grounds for counter culture rather than being a court jester for the oligarchy, can we avoid the same erasing of the histories that happen outside of the colonial and colonising imaginary of (sub-)cultures. Rather than intending to be correctly framed and acknowledged, we have to participate in continual folding, migrating and expanding but not to become unseen and unheard, in order not to be silenced.

Internet art is resistance against patriarchal communication. The proto linguistic languages of forensic listening in networked artistic production carry the potential to refuse the ubiquitous coercions to communicate first, as vibration, resonance, noise and signal, insofar as they require extraordinary processes of encryption and decryption. Unruly ways of transmitting, spreading, spilling and leaking speculations, these networked acts should not be replaced, but need to be Read/Write accessible, performed recursively, as a litany, executed on repeat for eternity, in every situation time and time again #….*/* * * * /usr/bin/.* > /dev/null

Today’s 21 century globalised world is characterised by increasingly hybrid divisions: the binary divisions of the industrialism of the 20th century, such as: analogue/digital, east/west, romanticism/dadaism, purpose/play, hierarchy/anarchy, presence/absence, symptom/desire, blue-collar/intellectual, man/woman, master/slave, paranoia/schizophrenia, type/mutant transcendence/immanence. Have not been supplanted but are currently being rendered and extracted by new meta divisions which combine and compute what was formerly considered to be an alternative, into new conglomerations of algorithmic sovereignty. However, if the remedial treatment for such symptoms is to replace these binary errors, with non binary correctives, if every manoeuvre to escape dualistic logic meritoriously recalls it in a subtler manner, we need a careful nuanced examination of the operating system, starting with learning about technology the hard way – with a soft _soft_ hand.

The challenge for feminists of 21C is to figure out how new divisions of labour in the fourth industrial automation are determining completely new roles for human relations in contemporary society. Over the past decades a precipitous globalising realm of the internet has incubated different essences of an engaged ostensibly political art. While dealing with all sorts of politics, the crossovers between art and activism have been demonstrating and illustrating the humanitarian super power of an imminent laissez-faire liberalism smothering the new borders of capitalism by attempting to systematically eradicate any traces of the concept of race, class and gender. As long as it does not matter, art is tolerated to be as radical as it wants. There are other performative ways participate with other modalities of being that define non-human life forms such as systems and network which allow people to intersect and form tangential assemblages with those of whom are both corporeally distant and local.

At the same time, the work of women and artists are confronted with new forms of functionalism: Local governments are commissioning farmers markets, public art and fanfare to pacify social conflicts in precarious neighbourhoods; festivals, biennales and spectacles are supposed to serve as large-scale sources of inspiration for all sorts of entrepreneurs of an innovative self; the label and brand of allegedly smart contemporariness which for a certain period of time seemed somewhat beneficial to distance ourselves from outdated role-models of master/slave, mistress/wife, artist/worker, has meanwhile turned into an automated mechanism which merely ensures the production and expropriation of relational value by any means possible.

Against the backdrop of method acting for alimony, we are forced to opt in. Can we opt for none of the above choices, neither generously allowed arbitrariness nor forced functionalisation? One of the things that computing machines (when opened and used in a critical manner) make possible is a new (or perhaps arcane) kind of cross-disciplinary expression, that it is performative, in a dystopic manner, data becomes instrument, material and medium. Through a continuum of practices from the natural sciences, through engineering and design, to everyday culture and the arts there is no doubt that we are privy to the emergent conditions of a networked world, a realm increasingly transmitted through ubiquitous fibres, decoded systems, may we please also skip the search for the superficial third space, so called attempt to appropriate or pay homage to indigenous point of view which is not comfortable enough to allow us to reimagine and rebirth puritanical critical distance or cynical neutrality? Perhaps we can now ask instead how can we avoid melancholy invocations of the exertions of the past circling around clichés of suffrage, materialism or abstractionism?

A mélange of reflection upon cultural, scientific and theoretical narrative, in an attempt to overcome these discrete divisionary limitations. The consciousness of raising these questions is the beginning of their answering: The Internet has to claim a new autonomy. Rather than imagining independence from chattel, capital, trade and assembly, engaged female autonomy arises immanently out of the confrontations within ever more networked mediated process of production and consumption. Rather than making things disaffected, we need to reflect on the 21C female position within a production of virtual commodities and distance ourselves from the accelerating demands by an increasingly wearied society after the spectacle. In this way, the computer should be approached not as simply a word processor but as an expressive medium, a theatre machine.

The ideologies of entrepreneurial magic realism and its divisions of labour seem to shed light and carry in its wake new economies of sentiment and resentment. Capital exploits the immaterial labour force of collective female voluntary servitude, whilst hope and despair generate surplus value from enthusiasm and depression. As long as we are imagining the preservation of our own integrity and freedom of movement within the system, we will remain its unruly convicts. Assuming we could still modify or improve it from within, means that we are just masking our awareness and idealising the fact that we are earning a living from domestic labour. There is no doubt the polymath, or what is otherwise known as cross-disciplinary or intermedial approach, inspires the courageous to continues to innovate and infect holistic customs. All the while it seems a utopian claim (or curse) of the dominant who repeatedly claim that we have truly entered the age of an epoch in which human-induced changes have significantly impacted on the Earth's ecosystems. In place of this measured predictive definition, and instead of the war torn ‘anthropocenic’ turn, in stark contrast, we need to provide a vibrant distinction between objects and relations, making complex dynamics of materials visible and ensuring that the reserves - intrinsic to objects - are strongly correlated to the kinds of informal/formal relations in which content is engaged.

Abstraction is being taken to the limit and coming back to haunt us as new concreteness. While creating internet art is making a universe a cosmography that opens up again the possibility of potential. We have to consider not only our immediate environment but an entire poetic realm with a multiplicity a cosmos, of past and possible relations as the field of our activity. Rather than being satisfied with or limited to what is currently available materially and practically. We have to make tangible decisions especially to how other matriarchal worlds could be and exist. In doing so, we may be able to offer new ways of how we conceive this patriarchal world and what endures in it.

We are working for all women who have been ostracised, banished or imperilled.
V.1 -
3 July 2018
Mauro-Flude, N. (2018). Feminist_Internet_Lore_Manifesto. [online] sister0.org. Available at: http://sister0.org/?Feminist_Internet_Lore_Manifesto/ [Accessed 3 Jul. 2018].
The Feminist Internet Lore Manifesto (FILM) has been conceived because the internet physically impacts our health, safety and well-being. Since 1969 the birth of the internet technical knowhow is weaponized against those whom are uninformed of its processes.[1] The all-seeing eyes of despotic gatekeepers have been harnessing the unsuspecting user with vender lock-in strategies, are merely successors to historical tactics of slavery, victimization and addiction. For those whom attempt to enable those unacquainted, everyday horror has and is being experienced. [2] Often the perpetrators are those whom possess the skill of system administration - through online smear campaigns, stalking, DOS attacks, lurking, doxing and so on, such dread is endured. [3] In the first decade of commonplace use of the web, during the 1990s, particular female led technical projects had to initially work on making visible networks of female-centered technologists pointing to alternative models to how such agency can take place in other ways. Although vulnerability cannot be used as an alibi, because we cannot confuse a sense of false security with providing a safe place – this text acknowledges these pioneering autonomous grassroots feminist server/tech projects such as: The Syster Server run by women, using free software, the collective acts as a nonviolent place to learn *nix system administration skills, host services and inspire others to do the same this project was developed by The Genderchangers Academy [GCA] was grass roots female led tech collective whom held skills share meetings at the end of the 90’s in Amsterdam. [4] The name genderchangers is derived from a small piece of computer hardware that changes the sex of a computer cable. The metaphor was chosen to create awareness around the significant lack of women in the field of Information Technology. GCA’s desire is to change the dominant gender of people who use technology, and this is communicated in the events this community produces. This is an international collective of women who deal with computers the hard way, in the sense that in workshops the first step is to open up computer hardware, thereby demystifying machines by cataloguing their inner parts.

This female collective also started The Eclectic Tech Carnival [/etc ] in 2003. The /etc, has been fondly known as, the GCA on the road. It began as the GCA were invited by various female led cooperatives and cultural centres and NGOs, to continue their experiential way of skills share; that is such customized experiential learning events challenge overtly goal-orientated, vocational and teleological approaches that are so coercive in today’s learning environments for instance STEM/STEAM. The /etc were held mainly throughout Eastern Europe annually for the first decade and then expanded out to other iterations and venues there after (the /etc being held in 2018 in Italy). The GCA’s customized experiential learning events challenge overtly goal-orientated, vocational and teleological approaches that are so dominant in today’s learning environments. Of course, GCA isn’t the only group doing such work, however, their forging methodology, was largely influential upon the proliferation of women-driven hacker space events of the 21C. Such projects are a collective body of radical anarchist feminists with a particular history of chewing on the cables and fibres of control and domination, nodding to Angela Davis who reminds us that “radical simply means grasping things at the root”. Therefore, FILM rejects the utilitarian deciphering of intent, and instead refers to the beginnings of culture when the notion of matriarchy was prominent and was said to be subsumed by patriarchy by the division of art, crafts, technologies and ritual. [5] It is posited that typical social stratifications and other limiting divisions such as labour need to be transcended, and instead we must focus on fulfilling (and thrilling) the aspirations of those beyond the moment, but to no certain goal for that then reduces possibility. It should also be noted that the FILM’s 10 working points has been influenced by a translation, that was adapted and modified from the social division of labor, a concept scrupulously set forth by William Petty, whom put into practice the idea of the division of labour as a means of maximising both quality and efficiency. [6] Such notions are deliberately inverted and infused with exuberance to critically address current technopolitics. Whilst also leaving a space for ivresse whilst envisioning, first and foremost, the aim is to change the gender of technology – that is - to eclipse the sexual violence often encountered when women are living, working and learning in a male dominated field of the internet. Such experimental pedagogy is unique in that they have a feminist approach - think digital literacy sewing circles - the modes of experiential learning expand the hack meetings’ reflection on politics with an intersectionalist point of view and a non teleological approach to skills sharing. For instance, during a meeting a focus group on system administration is quite content, to have a woman knitting in the back ground gleaning information, or a silk screen or drag king workshop held alongside more hard tech skills acquisition.

With such herstory in the foreground, a salon style event ‘Feminist Principles of Internet Art’ was held as a part of the Favour Economy’s [7] residency at Norma Redpath House for ‘Doing Feminism / Sharing the World' research project in Melbourne, Australia. [8] The Favour Economy is a project that collects audio recordings shared by women working in the arts. While it abstracts its use value and transcends the regime of commodity exchange, as a platform for contributors from women in the arts, to share their experience, insights and skills by recording an audio file and sharing it to the internet archive. The archive comprises of a series of volumes that develop over a one-year period coinciding with the financial year, and can be seen as an entanglement into the abstract reality of post-cybernetic control. Furthermore, the word ‘favour’ encapsulates a social gesture of ‘sharing something’ without describing precisely what that ‘something’ might be. In this context the intention of the ‘Feminist Principles of Internet Art’ was to examine ‘The Feminist Principles of the Internet v2’ an evolving document initially developed in 2014 by the Association for Progressive Communications [9]. The principles towards realising a feminist Internet were discussed and outlined, including key events and historical digital literacy circles, which have posed a new radical set of (cyber)feminist models and art movements, that in turn provided new insights about what a feminist engagement with the internet may be. Informing critical rethinking of existing discourse they provide us with a sense of import of this contemporary field.

It is no secret that calculating machines play an increasingly dominant role in influencing our desires and fears, concerns and prejudices. Beyond the 1337/leet sp33k and endless torrent of internet memes, personal branding, rickrolling of post digital culture, Described in Digital Folklore as ‘online amateur culture, DIY electronics, dirtstyle, typo-nihilism, memes and chatbots’ (Espenschied & Lialina 2009), defining some principles of feminist Internet life and lore opens up pathway to re-think the mechanism. Such reckonings with Internet life and lore, art and materiality demand an analysis commensurate with the ubiquity and complexity of its myriad presence, dismissing the assumption that the internet is a single global homogenising technology. Therefore FILM is a treatise and litany acknowledging that the Internet is a cultural apparatus. The internet is envisioned it as a feminist place where art can also happen (rather than merely a platform for trade, porn, promotion, self-aggrandisement or channel of utilitarian information exchange). Nodding slightly to the ‘autonomous movement of the non-living’ anticipated by Guy Debord in The Society of the Spectacle (Paris, 1967). FILMs tendrils reach out to to Ada Lovelace (1815–52) whom envisaged the full potential of the matrix like computing machine, including its poetic significance. Through an examination of the humble origins of the computer, as weave and weft, such revalidation of profound play within the limits of a given system, even of the most utilitarian kind, can lead to transfiguration and unanticipated tendrils of whey that can reach far beyond initial intent. Along with approaching the operating system and the computer as a process – not dissimilar to any salubrious relationship - it's something that you must continually work on and maintain. And if this remains to be so, we should also embracing the feminist futurity of VNS Matrix and Xenofeminism, as Laboria Cuboniks insists for “the augmented homes of shared laboratories, of communal media and technical facilities”. [10]
In this way FILM indicates ten working points to continue to enable women to be louder, stronger, and safer, as they become more fluent in their reach for justice in the 21Century. The intention of the FILM is not simply to propose a definitive set of working points, nor project potential uses, delimit possible actions, nor signal perceived functions but to enable a constant shifting of functions, mediums, positions, roles, pronouns, selves, discourses and fictions that continually intersect. The work honours those women whose voice, amongst other things, was prominent in the pursuit for pleasure, exuberance, and vertigo. A montage of conversation, description, conjecture and moments pirated from performances, actions, history and literature. The raison d’être put forth in the Feminist Internet Manifesto - advocates that feminists must focus on the path of awareness over identity when foregrounding feminist approaches and application of the Internet.

[1] Bowles Nellie (2018) ‘Thermostats, Locks and Lights: Digital Tools of Domestic Abuse’, June 23, New York Times, Cited 1 July 2018 < https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/23/technology/smart-home-devices-domestic-abuse.html >.

[2] Wolf, Asher (2012) Dear Hacker Community – We Need to Talk, Cited 1 July 2018 < http://archive.li/fDxKU >.

[3] Spinks, Rosie J (2013) ‘Hacked Off’ The Magazine: The Complete Archives
Edited by Glenn Fleishman. Cited 1 July 2018 <

[4] https://systerserver.net/, http://genderchangers.org/etc.html

[5] I am referring to the conversations around the idea of ritual and craft and matriarchy that gets brought up in relation to the Paleolithic female ‘Venus’ figurines such as Venus of Willendorf. This history is discussed in detail by Cynthia Eller (2001).

[6] The 10 working points are purloined, then adapted and modified to a feminist point of view with a collective voice, from a pamphlet ’10 working points for artists in the new divisions of labor’ a text systematically explored by William Petty which as then translated purloined, then adapted and modified by Florian Schneider. Discussed in ‘Notes on the division of labor’ _Journal des Laboratoires and TkH Journal for Performing Arts Theory (no. 17) Exhausting Immaterial Labour in Performance, Paris 2010. Also see, Luisa Pesante, ‘Paradigms in English political economy: Interregnum to Glorious Revolution’, _The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought_, 3, 3, (353), (1996).

[7] http://www.favoureconomy.com

[8] https://doingfeminism-sharingtheworld.tumblr.com

[9] https://www.apc.org/en/pubs/feminist-principles-internet-version-20

[10] http://www.laboriacuboniks.net/qx8bq.txt.