What are we talking about? Who’s ‘we’ anyway?

Examining the conditions created by digital space, Donna Haraway noted the formation of a new means of expression, a "powerful infidel heteroglossia" as a radical invention, born of necessity and compromise, an emerging system of communication that establishes an equality of strangeness for those who come together in digital space. Enabling change and exchange, it is whatever has been bastardised from the intentions of the technologist and the needs and desires of the user. It creates the conditions sought after especially by those digital practitioners who come to their work through the traditions of community art and community media.

Speaking recently of culturally diverse arts practice, or rather, of a practice that recognises the complementary symbiosis of competing voices, Sarat Maharaj (2) echoed an appreciation of emerging language as a tool for more egalitarian exchanges, advocating a "transcendental pidgin" as a fertile, radical, generative bartering space for the exchange of ideas and opinions. Pidgin, borrowing nuance from both its contributing languages, shears words away from an accretion of familiar historical assumptions, imbuing the most commonplace notions with a jolt of strangeness, a tiny conceptual window where 'difference' is normal, and the routine reaction is to adapt to it, and to absorb it.

Shared preoccupations with new use of language, new forms of collaboration, new terms of engagement and new constructions of identity mean that the concerns of digital arts practice and 'culturally diverse' arts practice resonate with one another. Interrogation of the way in which conceptual digital space affects the real world echoes critical enquiry into the connection between imagination and action, and may provide instructive analogies. As digital space (which includes but is not limited to the Web) expands in popular consciousness, its potential as a transformative site increases.

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