h a b i t a r ooe noo(p u n t o)oo n e t


habitar en (punto) net

Remedios Zafra

habitar en (punto) net brings together a selection of some of the most important works of net.art produced by women in recent years.

habitar en (punto) net concerns life on the Internet. It also concerns women.

habitar en (punto) net is put forth as a proposal, on and off line, where questions are raised about women's possible social and political changes, arising from living together in a world connected by the machine.

habitar en (punto) net explores the singular nature of the media through different readings about the Internet, questions that arise time and time again in artistic research and in cyber-feminist discussions about identity on the Internet, the dismounting of private and public spheres, the creation of on-line collectiveness, the interface as a new field of inter-subjective mediation, de-location and de-materialisation of the person, the place of the body on the Internet, the topics and reality regarding feminine technophobia, along with the political and social action of women in the media.

The selection is organised on the basis of three significant forms of "inhabiting" when speaking of the Internet and women: Inhabiting the margins (in a space where the body is left behind), inhabiting a house (full of technological fissures where public and private spheres mingle) and inhabiting the web (as a political space full of hopes and threats for the production of the woman's subjectivity, where danger grows together with what saves us, too). In the works of net.art selected for each "habitat", there are two meta-languages, jointly or separately: That which contemplates the differential nature of a medium such as the Internet and that which highlights the mis-alignments of subjectivity coming into life (works created from feminist positions).

Between doses of scepticism and caution about the potential if the medium but also with renewed hope, we wonder what the real possibilities are for producing new spaces for living together and collectiveness.


Imagine a glass melting until it becomes a kind of vessel that we could easily go across! (1) Imagine that place on the other side as a volatile and rhyzomatic environment. A verb-place, where shape and action are contingent. An unstable, virtual and multiple territory where what we are is always represented. A prophylactic space where our body is always left behind. Imagine a land designed as the highest level of a game, devised for achieving control and yet perversely conceived as a network. While the speculative pulse of change beats on the novelty of its horizontalisation, it is in the evidence of the will to reproduce (and even giving vigour) the same forms of authority and sexual representation that we identify the structures that were already dominant outside the network. It is here that we find better conditions of anonymity and speed.


The key to he who inhabits the Internet is the ability to "cross frontiers". Not just the frontiers that place him in different spaces but also those of the body itself and those of the face. The works selected for this section query the idea of the interface as a new agent mediating between subjects. Interface as a technological fold where identity is transfigured, where the subject disappears and a character is made up, right there where some place the alienated being of the woman, femininity, where it has lived, historically belittled.

A new epistemological and political posture on identity on the Internet emerges upon inhabiting the margins. A posture where the network announces a post-corporeal subjectivity, an "image of identity split from the image of the body"(2), an image potentially apt for manipulation and coding, assemblies of human beings and electronic appliances (cyborgs). Faced with a dichotomised biological construction, a myriad of sexual subjectivity emerges now (also artificially), generating a continuous flow of "becoming", in a dance of new representations for thought and for seeking new possibilities of living on line.

Inhabiting the margins of a world where technology acts as a new semiotic and social agent (3) and where this is more concerned with an ecology of intensities than with the body existing beyond the image of its limits. It has more to do with inhabiting the political and social margins of technology, the new homes where what is public becomes private. Inhabiting where space is a margin, a technological fold.

The future was at your fingertips. (4) Sadie Plant, Ceros + Unos.
Basically, you, Lady Luthor, are a switch system. (5) Bruce Sterling, The Hacker Crackdown.


Now, the home is just the anamorphosis of a threshold (6).
The new configuration of public and private spaces in a network society affects women in a special way, as the historic inhabitants of the domestic realm. The new possibilities of the machine for crossing the wall-screen towards what is public (and viceversa) encourage the emancipated of technology and make it possible to de-locate employment, education and personal relations (tele-work, tele-training, tele-presence). However, this possibility also increases the risks of a woman's seclusion in the domestic area and her ongoing lack of visibility. Similarly, the possibility of this public space reaching the home also allows what is private to become public. Domestic stories, experience and memory cease to be private. The web's non-univocal nature allows the woman to cease being a spectator and to become a producer and distributor of information as well as a creator of devices from where stories can emerge. Let us remember that the network facilitates the central function in the constitution of artistic practices, as said by Guattari, without this consisting in telling stories but rather in creating devices in which stories can take place (7).

As long as they remain tied to their domestic chores, and above all to those in the home which go without financial compensation, women can only access an identity of procurement (as the daughter of, wife of, mother of).(8) Claude Dubar. Las crisis de las identidades.


The opening of subjects, agents and narrative non-isomorphous territories representing that better future cannot be imagined from the advantageous position of the Cyclops-type self-satisfied eye of the dominant subject. (9) Donna Haraway, Ciencia, cyborgs y mujeres.

Inhabiting the network from a politically active position is inevitable for most of the artists working on the Internet. They work from a de-constructive and partial position. A strategic and politically founded vision like that depicted by Haraway "has to be controlled, plaited and transformed by other voices in shared conversations" (10). These proposals contemplate the exploration of social space and its construction in the network, identity and sexuality in cyber-space, the overcoming of all those forms of thought, tradition and stereotypes that continue to keep technology away from women.

Along these lines, inhabiting the network compels us more than ever before to inhabit this versatility and the new difficulty of the spaces thus generated: That of history not being repeated. For cyber-feminist artists, there is a possibility of the juicy cyber space of variable forms of inter-subjective relations and dematerialised forms of producing subjectivity, always enveloped in power and desire, still having something to contribute to the emancipation of the subjects. The possibility of the mechanisms of phallic-centred cyber-hierarchising leaving a few gaps for continuing to intervene ironically and politically in an efficient way on the Internet. The possibility of imagining new and more creative forms of inhabiting (punto)net.

He who inhabits a place not only knows the medium but also adopts it for life. He who inhabits incites an exchange with the environment, converts the landscape into a habitat, goes beyond the idea of the traveller-spectator and becomes the inhabitant-actor. But inhabiting the Internet, for women, as well as for all those who until not long ago were excluded from official history, has an added value. The spaces to be made are those providing the most possibilities for not repeating old models of social hierarchising, more possibilities for imagining new creative, social and political conditions of a post-Internet world.


1 - Lewis Carroll, Ali cia a través del Espejo.
2 - NAKAMURA, L.: After/Images of Identity: Gender, Technology and Identity Politics (criticism). En: FLANAGAN, M. y BOOTH, A. (eds): Reload. Rethinking women+cyberculture. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2002: pp. 321-332.
3 - BRAIDOTTI, R.: Cyberfeminism with a difference. http://www.let.uu.nl/womens_studies/rosi/cyberfem.htm
4 - PLANT, S.: Ceros + Unos. Destino, Barcelona, 1998: p. 120..
5 - STERLING, B.: The Hacker Crackdown: p. 29
6 - VIRILIO, P.: Estética de la desaparición. Barcelona, Anagrama, 1988: p.73.
7 - Felix Guattari, citado en:NEGRI, T. : Arte y multitud. Madrid, Trotta, 2000: p.16.
8. DUBAR, C.: La crisis de las identidades. La interpretación de una mutación. Bellaterra, Barcelona, 2002.
9- HARAWAY, D.: Ciencia, cyborgs y mujeres. La reinvención de la naturaleza. Cátedra, Valencia, 1995: p. 331.
10 - Ibídem: p. 18