• The Digital Écriture Féminine: Cyberfeminism in Experimental Computer Animation

Hosea, Birgitta, 2017, Book Section, The Digital Écriture Féminine: Cyberfeminism in Experimental Computer Animation In: Experimental Animation. Bloomsbury Press. ISBN TBC (Unpublished)

Abstract or Description:

Since the beginning of computer animation, artists, avant-grade filmmakers and creative technologists have been creating new methods of expression through digital processes. For pioneers of experimental computer animation, such as Lillian F Schwartz, artists brought freedom, new approaches and an assertion of the human spirit to an instrument with the potential to be a 'devastating tool of oppression' (1). For this work to be considered an art form, Malcolm Le Grice argued that it should explore digital materiality - that which could only be created with computers (2) - and expand the structure of film language itself (2). Moving on from the desire to create unique forms of digital art to a vision of a total change in society, by the late 90s, as access to personal computers became more widespread, techno utopianists and cyberfeminists made a number of grand claims for the computer age including the potential for the creation of new, virtual worlds and the transformation of gender relationships. Building on the work of post-structuralist French feminists, such as Monique Wittig and Luce Irigaray, in seeking new forms of feminine language, Sadie Plant's 1998 book Zeros + Ones made a series of connections between the essential nature of women and the new skills needed for an information society, between the traditionally female craft of weaving and non-linear hypertext. The book proclaimed that 'The future is female', a zeitgeist which had already inspired artists such as VNS Matrix and Linda Dement to create new kinds of female-centred work using (what was formerly known as) 'new media'.

With the current resurgence of interest in feminism and growth in the proportion of women choosing to study animation and graphic arts at university (3)(4), this chapter will re-visit the cyber-feminist discourse and consider a selection of contemporary, experimental, computer animation made by women. Did women go on to liberate themselves through technology? Does their work continue to innovate and extend the boundaries of what is possible or has it become bound to off-the-shelf software and a nostalgic re-iteration of that which has gone before? The chapter will go on to conclude that negotiating the issues of essentialism and intersectionality raised by cyberfeminism has wider implications for the discipline of Animation Studies.


1. Schwartz LF. The Artist and Computer Animation. In: Halas J, editor. Computer Animation. London; New York: Focal Press; 1974.
2. Le Grice M. Computer Film as Film Art. In: Halas J, editor. Computer Animation. London; New York: Focal Press; 1974.
3. Vankin D. Animation: At CalArts and elsewhere, more women are entering the picture. Los Angeles Times. 2015 May 25;
4. Siddall L. Rebecca Wright on the ratio of girls with design degrees vs. those in the industry [Internet]. Its Nice That. 2014. Available from: http://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/rebecca-wright

Subjects: Other > Technologies > J900 Others in Technology > J990 Technologies not elsewhere classified
Other > Social studies > L300 Sociology > L320 Gender studies > L321 Women's Studies
Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art > W190 Fine Art not elsewhere classified
Creative Arts and Design > W600 Cinematics and Photography > W690 Cinematics and Photography not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Communication
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2016 12:36
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2016 12:36
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2511

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item