Interventions: a Nigger in Cyberspace

'Interventions: a Nigger in Cyberspace' is a video installation by Keith Piper. It was shown in the exhibition 'The Body in Ruin' (1993).

Interventions: a Nigger in Cyberspace

Interventions: a Nigger in Cyberspace

"Interventions: a nigger in cyberspace" is the provocative title for the installation of Keith Piper in which two video projectors projected images of computer animations that refer to city-sites, computer-architecture and a black "subject" that constantly changed its shape against a background of high-tech symbols and devices. Monitors showed a computer animation in which subjects such as utopia, the city as high-tech planning and warzone, and the ever repeating motif of Rodney King being beaten up, were being processed.

Keith Piper is rooted in the Black Art movement that originated in the sixties when the racial contradistinctions in the USA and Great Britain led to a strong self-awareness of the black population in these countries. He doesn't only examine the image which the white people have of the black people but also the delicate questions such as the macho behaviour (body language) of young black men. Keith Piper unravels in his work the different levels in which the present racial contradistinctions are being expressed. In "Interventions: a nigger in cyberspace" he connects the physical and social landscape of the city with the parallel landscape that is immaterial and an inextricably expanding universe of digital data: cyberspace (the electronic network).

Piper: "Many of the digital products presented as "interactive" remain in point of fact tightly structured martix's which one is allowed to navigate only along preordained pathways to a set of fixed destinations . They become model of the orderly city of which the power structure has dreamed... Within a truly interactive city, the unruly pedestrian could jay-walk and tresspass, cutting across waste land and leaving graffiti on hallowed walls... This becomes the interactive domain as riot zone with the user operating not as orderly citizen but as digital looter, disorderly and anarchic. It is within this nightmare scenario for the controllers of cyberspace that the user operating not as orderly equivalent of the disorderly black of urban chaos and transgressive behaviour steps into full visibility."

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