Digitising Ariadne’s Thread: Feminism, Excryption, and the Unfolding of Memory in Digital Spaces

Abstract (in English): 

Our contemporary digital age relies on the ontology of the hyperlink with its capacity to conflate time-space, which allows us immediate access to information in its varying forms of organization. The hyperlink brings texts, images, documents and modes of accessing information directly to our computer and mobile media screens, bypassing the old materialities and technologies for storage of cultural artifacts. Providing us with the fast convergence of information and cultural artifacts, it radically alters the manner in which we extend ourselves in time and space. Sybille Kramer argues that these changes are wrought through digital technologies that operate at the level of the subhuman and sub-perceptible level of the operation of digital code.

In this paper, rather than simply celebrating the collapse of space-time made possible by digitisation and the hyperlink, or mourning the disappearance of the human, we introduce the concept of “excryption” to think the nature of this change. By “excryption” we understand the out-folding and e-volution of space-time, and therefore of memory. Our focus on the role of human bodies in mediating digital experience owes a huge debt to feminist scholarship on embodiment and the theorisation of gender and difference. The history of scholarly feminism is both a history of the refusal to dematerialise corporeality and a history of insisting upon possibilities for dynamic re-configurations and re-patternings of living matter. By unraveling a genealogical network which stretches from Ariadne to artists Stephanie Strickland, Fiona Templeton, Petra Germeinbok and Barbara Campbell, and which passes through writers and thinkers Ada Lovelace, Mary Shelley, Shelley Jackson, Anna Munster and others, we are also able to recover and remake a feminist epistemology based on the concept of the “thread” which today holds a new relevance to the understanding of digital works as they transform of print-based modes of textual engagement.

(source: ELO 2015 Conference Catalog)

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Hannah Ackermans