It is widely known that social inequalities exist in the internet realm and that these inequalities adversely affect different groups across the globe. The Oppidan Press spoke to Tiger Maremela, a digital artist and former Rhodes University student, about how these constraints affect digital art.
- In a tweet you used the hashtag #DecoloniseTheInternet. From your perspective in what way is the internet colonised?
Cyberspace, as intangible as it is, still tends to reflect the same kinds of power dynamics and oppression that are experienced in real life. The people that create the technology necessary for the internet to exist, and the people that produce the content that populates the internet are still rich straight white men from the Global North. The internet has thus become a very gendered, racialised, class-based and heavily politicised space. Active internet users that are black, women, queer, disabled, class-oppressed, or marginalised in anyway often face URL oppression— whether this is through the lack of visibility, representation or participation on the net, or the ease of sharing racist/transphobic/sex-shaming posts.
- In terms of art, what would it mean to have a decolonised internet space?
The internet is allowing for the production, consumption and dissemination of art in very easy and convenient ways. However, the people that are able to produce or consume internet-based art are still the same people: rich, white people with quick and cheap internet space. The decolonisation of the internet has to happen at the same time as the decolonisation of the predominantly white art scene, and of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) sector. The more black, queer/trans, disabled, class-oppressed people that we have at the forefront of all these different movements, the better. It’s not just about black artists making great art that speaks about the injustice of the internet— we need the same people that it’s about to access this art.
- Does the hashtag allude to a new or existing project?
The ‘#’ alludes to the current project that I am working on titled F5 (alt. ZA). The new project considers my most recent series roygbiv – for black boys as a departure point. F5 (alt. ZA) is a video-based multimedia media project that looks at the decolonisation of the internet, its aesthetics, its ability to be used as a tool to address social injustice, and overall the internet as a site of struggle for systemically and systematically marginalised bodies.
Words by: Ayanda Gigaba