By Penny Boyer
At Week 1’s FemTechNet ¡Taller! session there were a total of 21 women present. As the talleristas arrived into the Lidliker Room at Geekdom between 6:30 and 7pm, Martha Rosler’s 1975 video, Semiotics of the Kitchen, was playing on a loop (6:29 min. performance video).
Penny Boyer began the Taller with an overview and orientation of the various FemTechNet websites and an introduction to the Suggested Syllabi/Reading Lists. To prove the readings were not necessarily onerous, Boyer projected the essay, “A day without feminism” <http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/aday_without_feminism.pdf> and had the group read the beginning of it in round-robin fashion with each woman reading aloud one sentence. Part of the Riot Grrl Manifesto was also read aloud by a woman who had some familiarity with it.
The VNS Matrix manifesto was projected momentarily. Boyer explained that other media was on the syllabi, like video; she showed the trailer for Forbidden Voices: How to Start a Revolution with a Laptop and introduced the group to the work of Cuban writer Yoani Sanchez and her blog, Generation Y. The talleristas then introduced themselves.
Following a five-minute break, we watched the first FemTechNet weekly themed video, Labor: History of the Engagement of Feminism & Technology, Judy Wajcman, Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics, interviewed by Anne Balsamo, Dean of the School of Media Studies, The New School. To transition from the “Labor” video into a group discussion, ¡Taller! facilitators had invited Kelly Schaub, a Geekdom entrepreneur, to discuss the program she directs, CSA-San Antonio: Community Supported Art! “CSA-San Antonio is a subscription service for locally produced art. Similar to the boxes of fruit and vegetables that one might get from a local farm as an agricultural CSA, CSA-San Antonio offers ‘shares’ of art to feed the public’s cultural appetite. Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy seasonal food directly from nearby farms. With the same buy-local spirit in mind, Community Supported Art is a similar endeavor to support local art and artists, and to help sustain a healthy arts environment in San Antonio.” This presentation led to a group discussion followed by adjournment at a little past 8:30pm.