2012 Glitch Feminism Manifesto [EN]

Glitch Feminism Manifesto

https rhizome org editorial 2013 mar 12 glitch body politic

Legacy Russell


This piece was supposed to be about porn star James Deen

After reading about Deen here and there and everywhere I had the idea that perhaps there was something worth writing about

Only the problem was that the more I watched of his work the less I had a desire to write about it

Perhaps the point is not Deen himself and how he has been lauded via the wheel of favorable ratings by female audiences online

What needs to be written about is what happens when a woman sits down and engages with sex specifically her own as tied to an exploration of her individual sexuality and liberation therein via the medium of a computer screen

There are only so many Deen videos a girl can watch with the goal of critique at the forefront at a certain point one of two things irrupts that process

The first is a screen stuck overwhelmed as a consequence of having too many windows open too many things playing at once I am trying to get an education make a determination for myself so I want to see everything hear everything right now all at once

The second irruption I will leave for you to guess at

I will hint at the latter by saying that a petite morte of the physical self can be easily mirrored in the metaphor of the digital glitch a little digital death a wheeze a shift a breath a sneeze a pause

A glitch

I am writing from there the glitch

The moment of one s participation in sexual activity online where the myth of AFK Away From Keyboard and IRL In Real Life that comprise the two sides of Jurgenson s digital dualismduality collapse and in the collapse realize their dazzling potential

In Chris Baraniuk s Feedback White Noise and Glitches Cyberspace Strikes Back Baraniuk observes Glitches feedback whitenoise interference static although these may not be the final frontier they are demonstrably for now the edge further noting that


remind us that what we see on a screen is subject to a special kind of entropy which does not exist in the physical world

When faced with this sort of interruption we opt to make physical with ourselves our partners the world around us that which without this pause we might not feel the urgency to manifest for ourselves with ourselves

The glitch is the digital orgasm where the machine takes a sigh a shudder and with a jerk spasms

These moments have been integrated into the rituals and routines of our own physical action impacting how we interact with our own bodies and how we explore our deepest fantasies and desires spurred forth by these mechanized micro seizures

The glitch is the catalyst not the error

The glitch is the happy accident

When the computer freezes mid conversation when the video buffers and refuses to progress these moments are a new mode of foreplay something that needs to be acknowledged not as a fetish but as a new possibly for foreplay within sexual routine

We want what we cannot have whatever the material we are aiming to access the glitch makes us wait and whimper for it

Digital dualism s IRL is juxtaposed with AFK a falsehood for sure the rapidly waning notion that there are somehow two selves operating in isolation from one another rather than one continuous self two sides of a vivacious equation looped together in a continual narrative of daily living and human existence

The glitch splits the difference it is a plank that passes between the two

When watching media online it is the rainbowed spinning wheel the pixilated hiccup the frozen screen or the buffering signal that acts as a fissure that jars us into recognition of the separation of our physical selves from the body that immerses itself in fantasy when participating in sexual activity online

Yet simultaneously it is also the glitch that prompts us to choose our own adventure to finish the story and in doing so to acknowledge that when the mediation of digital space fails us albeit briefly we continue right where we left off taking the revolution offline but not out of body thereby demonstrating the fallacy of the digital dualist dialectic

Will we reboot



Ultimately we will polish things off just as we see fit and to put a bow on the end goal of jouissance ribboned and righted and because we want it we will seize our release

I am writing about sexual activity broadly an overarching umbrella I am talking about the watching of porn but also about cybering sexting G chat fantasy play or the uploading or downloading of other sex oriented content from the Internet

It is the glitch that incites anticipation that ecstasy of interference

An immersive différence in the purest sense of the French translation both difference and defer alike

Though pejoratively dismissed all too frequently as an aspect of technical error for me the glitch denotes an extension of the realm of foreplay whether it be play with oneself or with a virtualized other imagined or waiting just on the other side of the proverbial screen

With this in mind I propose the turning of a new radicality coining the term Glitch Feminism to make use of here in these pages for the first time by my hand which on this journey has found its home both on the keys and between my legs equally

It must be noted that the word glitch is oft delegated to the realm of slang which explains why it is so easy to pin it with negative connotations

Urban Dictionary defines it as an error in a structured system Dictionary com defines it as a defect or malfunction in a machine or plan

In a society that conditions the public to find discomfort or outright fear in the errors and malfunctions of our socio cultural mechanics illicitly and implicitly encouraging an ethos of Don t rock the boat a glitch becomes an apt metonym

Glitch Feminism however embraces the causality of error and turns the gloomy implication of glitch on its ear by acknowledging that an error in a social system that has already been disturbed by economic racial social sexual and cultural stratification and the imperialist wrecking ball of globalization processes that continue to enact violence on all bodies may not in fact be an error at all but rather a much needed erratum

This glitch is a correction to the machine and in turn a positive departure

This glitch I speak of here calls for a breaking from the hegemony of a structured system infused with the pomp and circumstance of patriarchy one that for all too long has marginalized female identified bodies and continues to offend our sensibilities by giving us only a piece of the pie and assuming our satisfaction

We want to claim for ourselves permanent seats at the table an empowered means of demarcating space that can be possessed by us in entirety a veritable room of our own that despite the strides made via feminist political action has yet to truly belong to us

A Glitch Feminist acknowledges the value of visuality and the revolutionary role that digital practice has in expanding the construction deconstruction and re presentation of the female identifying corpus

We acknowledge that the rigidity of digital dualism needs to be retired as it plays into binaries of real virtual that parallel the rampantly socialized figuration of male female

Glitch is conjectured as finding its etymological roots in the Yiddish glitch slippery area or perhaps German glitschen to slip slide it is this slip and slide that the glitch makes plausible a swim in the liminal a trans formation across selfdoms

The digital divide as with the gender divide is a construct that allows for phallogocentrism normative systems oriented toward the necessary splitting of selves to stick having lulled us into consenting to their naturalizing neutrality despite the stark reality that such structures are not in actuality neutral nor natural in any capacity

As bodies we are an extended narrative eternal in our geographies imbued with unexpected fissures that cause us to re present ourselves and in doing so see ourselves again in new lights and explorations

However capable we are of tectonic shifts we remain still unmistakably continuous

Glitch Feminism is not gender specific it is for all bodies that exist somewhere before arrival upon a final concretized identity that can be easily digested produced packaged and categorized by a voyeuristic mainstream public

Glitch Feminism therefore is feminism for a digital age a heralding of virtual agency a blooming of particularity and selfhood

Glitch refuses being categorized as subtext it rejects being labeled as subversive it does not speak for the marginal or the subaltern as sub as a prefix needs to be marked as a mode of acquiescence to our own exclusion from the canon the academy the Platonic ideal

The first step to subverting a system is accepting that that system will remain in place that said the glitch says fuck your systems

Your delineations

Your determinations as imposed upon our physicality

The glitch respectfully declines second rank to common convention

Jurgenson s problematizing of digital dualism opens the door for more discourse and discovery female identifying bodies and artists participating in the gorgeous scrambling of gender are still marking their own path within the lineage of art history in the digital world we have claimed sure footing and a platform that allows us to explore new publics engage in critical discourse with new audiences and above all glitschen between new conceptions of our bodies ourselves

It is a long road ahead we are in beta yet the necessary malfunction is well under way

As for the outcome

Well fortunately it s still buffering

Legacy Russell is a writer artist and curator

A Contributing Editor for BOMB Magazine s BOMBLOG she has worked at and produced programs for The Bruce High Quality Foundation Creative Time the Brooklyn Museum the Whitney and the Met

Her writing can be found in ArtSlant berfrois DIS Canteen Guernica and more

A candidate for an MRes of Visual Culture at Goldsmith s University her creative and academic work explores mourning remembrance iconography and idolatry within the public realm

Her performance The Initiation debuts December 2012 at The Museum of Arts and Design New York