[-empyre-] clarifications on what women

As a contributor to JudyUs book, I read the discussion about the politics of
inclusion with a range of thoughts. First, thanks to Diana for raising the
questions. They are critical, difficult, and necessary. Second, I believe
that JudyUs book makes an important contribution to the field, and am
grateful to her struggle to bring it about. I respect her efforts to include
writings by women of color from the U.S., writings about work by women from
the global south, and to include papers that raise issues of access,
language, whoUs creating the tools and whom the tools are serving, the
social position of women in different countries that impact participation,
use and relevance of electronic tools in artmaking. I also believe that Judy
has been very explicit, in the book and in this discussion, that the book
itself is a fragment and does not tell the whole story, not even a whole

I have reflected on DianaUs question in relation to my own chapter, because
it is an overview (of telecommunications works produced by women), and
because it does not include work by women living in the global south. It has
been difficult to untangle reasons and validity P even as I write now, I am

I am white, born and living in the U.S. I was most active in
telecommunications art activity, particularly at an international level,
from 1986-1993. During that time, practitioners that I was aware of through
international electronic art venues, were predominantly white North
Americans, Europeans and Australians. I was also aware of work among Native
American tribes in the U.S. to establish telecommunications access as a
means to create and disseminate cultural products and information. There
were also women artists of color in the U.S. exploring use of
telecommunications technologies. The Association for Progressive
Communications established an important network of NGOs, activists and
organizers with nodes in Latin America, Africa, Europe, U.S., Australia (my
memory is hazy on Asia). In my own work, as I became more involved with the
politics of the Internet (and then to broader questions of social justice),
I moved away from an art world framework.

In 1997 or U98, when I wrote the chapter for "Women, Art & Technology," I
knew the best the history I had been part of, received additional papers
from Judy, and conducted some additional research. I sought information
about women outside the U.S., but did not find anything at that time about
women telecommunications artists living in the global south. What I did
find, was that there were a number of networks doing similar work that did
not seem to be in contact. And, since the writing, I have learned of more. I
had hoped the writing would be part of a process of joiningIof the multiple
stories coming together.

Questions that arise in my mind include: What activity was going on that I
didnUt know about? To what extent has telecommunications art activity
remained outside the realm of women artists due to the poverty of their
countries, to their own poverty, to governments restricting access, to lack
of education, to lack of relevance? To what extent was I unaware of work
happening in the global south due to my position (in the U.S., not art
institutionally affiliated, working outside the art world, being for all
practical purposes monolingualI)? To what extent does the chapter reflect
the systems of cultural and political supremacy vs. personal traits &
blindnesses? What accounts for the gaps between practitioners over time (not
that many years)?  Should I have not told the story I know? In seeking to
contextualize technological inequalities, does it render invisible work I
was ignorant of?

I believe that the issues raised are both personal and reflective of systems
of oppression within and without the art world. DianaUs questions are
important in part because they encourage reflection, enable some distancing
between living in a system, even critically, and being challenged to reflect
on where blind spots remain. I would welcome learning/hearing more both
about work, and suggestions and reflections on how to effectively address
the structural inequalities that impact cultural work and communication,
with regard to communication technologies.

I also want to apologize for my infrequent appearance on this list. I am on
vacation/traveling, and will join back in as frequently as I can.

Thanks to all for thoughtful discussion.


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