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Title: Electronic Disturbance Theater, Floating Point Unit, Fakeshop
Authors: Bernard, Catherine
Keywords: Electronic Disturbance Theater
Floating Point Unit
Digital collectives
Issue Date: 18-Oct-2017
Abstract: This paper looks at several collectives of artists and hacktivists who, during the early 1990’s in New York City, used new media and web-based technologies to built strategies of critique and resistance to the digital divide, the network control society and the new eugenic consciousness powered by genetic engineering. The cyber activism and performances of Electronic Disturbance Theater, Floating Point Unit and Fakeshop helped to shape critical debates that addressed globalization, pan capitalism and body politics. The most well known among them, E.D.T., developed the concept of electronic civil disobedience and used a software application that allowed the group to conduct virtual sit-ins in support of the Zapatistas movement. The publication in 1994 of The Electronic Disturbance by Critical Art Ensemble set the theoretical stage then to articulate the virtual as weapon and resistance against the dominant systems of cultural production and to argue in support of the virtual condition and recombinant culture conceived as relational tactics and models. These New York based artist collectives blended radical politics with software and art, creating performances-based virtual events that established communication on a transnational level, enabling multiple participations in real time. These performances with their decentralized, multi-scalar networks powered forms of direct participatory democracy and created platforms and processes where diversified struggles could be networked together. This paper discusses the diverse tactics used by these collectives and highlights their critical contributions to the history of contemporary media arts as well as their impact on digital activism in the age of neo liberal politics.
Description: Biography: Catherine Bernard is Associate Professor of art history at SUNY Old Westbury. She obtained a Doctorat d’Etat in art history at the University of Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne. She has written extensively on contemporary. Her work has been published in Parkett Magazine; The Art Journal (College Art Association); Documents of Contemporary Art, (WhiteChapel Art Gallery and MIT Press); Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art (Duke and Cornell University); Les carnets du Bal, Paris, the Blaffer art Museum, Houston, the University of Bordeaux-Montaigne, and the Oslo Pilot. Her curatorial work includes more than 20 exhibitions and several catalogues on contemporary artists, for the Neuberger Museum of Art; Hunter College, CUNY; the Katonah Museum of Art; Museo Gurvich, Montevideo, The Wallace Gallery, SUNY Old Westbury and the Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin. Her research focuses on transcultural phenomena and pluri-cultural identities in contemporary art. In her writing, she engages with historical, political and cultural transformations. Her recent work investigates how migrations, displacements and entanglements create hyphenated identities.
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