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Cultural Exchange via Internet - Opportunities and Strategies
Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, 12 October - 4 December, 1998

[as of December 1st 1998 the forum has been prolonged - ... open-ended]

Subject:1st Draft of a Manifesto: Remapping Cyberspace
Date:Mon, 19 Oct 1998 20:06
Author:Guillermo Gómez-Peña
[posted by G. Haupt  -]

On behalf of Guillermo Gómez-Peña, who is on tour, I'm bringing his Manifesto into the debate:

1st Draft of a Manifesto: Remapping Cyberspace
Guillermo Gómez-Peña

Chapter IV of "The Virtual Barrio @ The Other Frontier" (or the Chicano interneta)
[the newest version, see below how to get the complete text]

In the past years, many theoreticians of color, feminists and activist artist have finally crossed the digital border without documents. This recent diaspora has forced the debates to become more complex and interesting. But since "we" (as of now, the "we" is still blurry, unspecific and ever-changing) don't wish to reproduce the unpleasant mistakes of the "cultural wars" (1988-1993), nor do we wish to harass the brokers, impresarios and curators of cyberspace as to elicit a new backlash, our strategies and priorities are now quite different:

"We" are no longer trying to persuade anyone that we are worthy of inclusion (we now know very well that we are either temporary insiders or insiders/outsiders at the same time). Nor are "we" fighting for the same funding (since serious funding no longer exists - specially for politicized experimental art), and the computer tycoons we all thought would eventually become progressive philantropists are just oversized teenagers with no political understanding of culture whatsoever.

For the moment, what "we" (cyber-immigrants) desire is:
to "politicize" the debate;
to re-map the hegemonic cartography of cyberspace;
to develop a multicentric theoretical understanding of the (cultural, political and aesthetic) possibilities of new technologies;
to exchange a different sort of information (mythopoetical, activist, performative, imagistic);
and to hopefully do all this with humor, inventiveness and intelligence.
Chicano artists in particular wish to "brownify" virtual space; to "spanglishize the net", and "infect" the linguas francas.
These concerns seem to have echoes throughout Latin America, Asia, Africa and many so called "Third World" communities within the so called "First World".

With the increasing availability of new technologies in "our" communities, the notion of "community art" and "political" or politicized art is changing dramatically. Now the goals, as defined by activist artists and theoreticians, are to find innovative grassroots applications to new technologies (i.e.. to help the Latino youth literally exchange their weapons for computers and video cameras), and to link all community centers and artist collectives through the internet. Artist-made CD-roms and web pages can perform an extremely vital educational function: they can function as community "memory banks" ("encyclopedias chicanicas" so to speak), sites for encounter, dialogue, complicity, and exchange; as well as virtual bases of operation and action for trans/border grassroots projects.

To attain all this, the many virtual communities must get used to a new cultural presence-the webback (el nuevo virus virtual); a new sensibility; and many new languages spoken in the net. As for myself, hopefully one day I won't have to write in English in order to have a voice in the new centers of international power.


To get the complete text (in 2 parts), send emails to
and write in the "Subject" field:
       get gp1    (for the 1st part)
and:   get gp2    (for the 2nd part)

The complete text is also available on the website:

©   Texts are the property of individual authors

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Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, on the use of Internet in the cultural exchange with and between Africa, Asia/Pacific and Latin America. 12 October - 4 December, 1998

Project direction: Gerhard Haupt -
©  House of World Cultures, Berlin. 1998