Dr Irina Aristarkhova
National University of Singapore
10 Kent Ridge Crescent
Phone: (65) 6775 6666
Fax: 65 6775 7630
Irina Aristarkhova is Assistant
Professor at the National University of Singapore, where she teaches courses
in Cyberculture and Aesthetics of New Media. Dr. Aristarkhova who has
published and lectured widely on cyberculture and cyberarts has a range of
research interests including issues of aesthetics and technologies of
virtual reality; immersive and interactive virtual environments;
cyberfeminism; technology and difference; technological embodiments, and
contemporary psychoanalytic theory. Since July 2001 Irina Aristarkhova has
been developing Cyberarts and Cyberculture Research Initiative - an
ambitious Art & Technology research project in South-East Asia. She serves
on the International Academic Advisory Board for Leonardo Electronic Almanac
and is currently working on a monograph on the aesthetics and technologies
of spatial conceptions, provisionally entitled "Matrixial Technologies".
Dr Irina Aristarkhova teaches the pioneering studio-based course, Cyberarts, in the Programme. She was formerly Senior Lecturer at the LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts where she taught courses in Cybertheory, Feminist Theory, Feminist Aesthetics, Technology and Embodiment and Contemporary Psychoanalytic Theory. She holds an MA from the University of Warwick, UK, and PhD from the Institute of Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences.
She was International Visiting Scholar at the Franke Institute of Humanities, University of Chicago in 2000 where she participated in the Sawyer Seminar series entitled "Computer Science as a Human Science: The Cultural Impact of Computerization". She was invited to lecture on topics in 'Gender and Technology' at the NOISE European Summer School at the University of Pisa, Italy in September 2000.
Dr. Aristarkhova who has published and lectured widely on cyberculture and cyberarts has a range of research interests including issues of aesthetics and technologies of virtual reality; immersive and interactive virtual environments; critical issues in image processing; ethnicity and gender in cyberspace; technological embodiments; contemporary psychoanalytic theory; postcolonial new media theory, and cyberethics. She is a contributing editor on the editorial board of the journal "Radek: Art, Theory, Politics" (Moscow), and on the Academic Board of Digital Art and Culture (DAC) annual conference and exhibition (RMIT, Australia). Since July 2001 Irina Aristarkhova has been directing Cyberarts Research Initiative (www.cyberarts.scholars.nus.edu.sg) – an ambitious Art & Technology research project, first of its kind in South-East Asia.
30 11 2000
Irina Aristarkhova: re: Cyberfeminism, Feminism and real women (Translation from Russian)
Dear Jana and Andrea, and also dear fellow countrywomen.
By the last letter from Jana and Andrea I understand that you are somewhat disappointed by our silence. Therefore a few words about this silence at the beginning.
As it seems, for Russian women internet-time is running completely different than one has expected. I realize the extent, as my cyberfeminist contacts differ very much when they are in Russian or in any other language.
Don't be disappointed this doesn't mean that we are not reliable or serious. We just need what we call "some time to get going" ("vremya dlya raskachki"). Of course one doesn't want to generalize like this, but this is also one of those obvious oppositions to cyberspace, where one has to do everything very quickly, but actually, one's mind wants to counteract to this (putative) rapidity.
Well, this is is a philosophical introduction. Now referring to your questions;
"We also ask you to shortly introduce yourselves in your first e-mail."
My name is Irina Aristarkhova (sounds kind of old-fashioned, doesn't it?). I was born in Moscow, I learned by heart Lenin's classification of classes, as well as Brezhnev's "Tselina" (?), as well as Gorbachovs "acceleration" ("uskoreniye") at university all as it was supposed to be. I was one of the first of my class to be admitted in the "pionerki" (female pioneers). I had been reading politinformation from the age of ten, and at the age of 14 I was mastering the "Phenomenology of the Spirit" along with "Materialism and Empiriocriticism". And I do not deny this history of a normal Soviet girl.
What else? I have been studying feminism in all its movements and its complexities for 15 years, from Russian suffragettes to post-lacanian theory and cyberfeminism. At the moment I am publishing books by Irigaray and Braidotti in Russian. Temporaryly I teach feminist aesthetics and cybertheory to various students at the institute of arts in Singapure. In my opinion politics and activism have to include corporeality and actuality, as well as theoretical approaches and virtuality. I also insist in the awareness of ethnic differences between Russian women, especially under the focus of the Chechen war and anti-semitism.
Cyberspace is entering step by step our lives, and really, feminism became unthinkable without a critical focus on cyberspace. Concerning the opposition of individualistic cyberfeminism and solidaric feminism: this seems to me a sufficiently deconstructed scheme, which might lead our dialogue to unproductive polemics and into rhetorical wasteland. Also in Russia there are only "two or less" cyberfeminists, this field is just emerging, and as Irina Aktuganova has proved in her works, for many people CYBERFEMINISM COULD BECOME THE FIRST STEP TO FEMINISM, when talking about Russia and not only its extension or its antithesis as in the West. What do you think?
So, let's talk about how new (bio) technologies influence the lives of women, in a philosophical sense as well as on a daily basis. For example, on the site of the artist Gelman (www.gelman.ru) one can find the category "cloning". We all have read "Dog's heart" ("Sobachye serdtse" by Mikhail Bulgakov). It seems to me that it is necessary to balance between technophoby and technophily. Western cyberfeminism often neglects/omits questions about how women think about this differently in different countries. Therefore I would like us to start thinking about this.
This is my first letter and it is not very structured following the manners of cyberspace. I hope that it will wake up my dear collegues and friends and make them answer.
With big greetings,