Cyberfeminism, Mutation, and An Oath of Maintenance

An Interview with Mindy Seu


As the feminist movement has evolved, it has created and encountered new frontiers and outlets, including cyberspace. In 2019, Mindy Seu, a designer and researcher based in New York, began the umbrella project Cyberfeminism Index. Initially, she created a crowdsourced spreadsheet that later evolved into an online database commissioned by Rhizome. The entries Seu gathered follow a constantly mutating definition but with a focus on techno-criticism. The Index is an indispensable research tool for those interested in this discourse and provides an entangled mix of theory and practice, emphasizing the highly subjective nature of curatorial work. The collection of hundreds of entries from the past three decades offers a magnified lens to diverse strands of evolving, contemporary cyberfeminism, ranging from Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” (1991) to Stacy Bias’ TechnoDyke.Com (2000–2008) to Klau Kinky of the Barcelona-based GynePunk (2014) to Camille Turner’s Afronautic Research Lab (2016) to aoaoing ensemble’s WeaverGirl 织女计划 (2020), and to Xin Xin and Katherine Moriwaki’s Critical Coding Cookbook (2022). 

In 2023, Seu reloaded her project and metamorphosed the cyberfeminist space into an edited book, sporting a bright neon green cover and encyclopedic pages on a recycled paper aesthetic. The book is divided into five sections, with guided readings created by 14 invited curators, entries with Seu’s annotations, and three versions of the Index organized by titles, authors, and images, weaving and further mutating the network of cyberfeminism. In this interview with The Offing’s Art department editors, Seu talks about her inspiration to create a collection of cyberfeminism entries, which grew from her need for techno-critical theory and digital praxis. She also discusses her methodology and practice of entry gathering, the collaborative process with the book designer Laura Coombs, and the future of the Index.

Divya Gangwani: When did you first come into contact with the term “cyberfeminism”? And what inspired you to compile a collection of cyberfeminism entries and index them? 

Mindy Seu: I first encountered the word cyberfeminism in Sadie Plant’s Zeroes and Ones. In it, she describes the materialism of the internet and introduces a revisionist internet history that foregrounds the woman that made this landscape possible. Looking around, I saw so many peers creating critical and creative works online, yet I couldn’t find an aggregate of techno-critical theory and digital praxis. This compelled me to create a bibliography for myself as a space to house these wide-ranging examples.

Cyberfeminism Index, 2023, page 166-67, documented and published by Inventory Press, design by Laura Coombs.


Yusi Liu: The foreword by Julianne Pierce of VNS Matrix, a collective in Adelaide that coined the term “cyberfeminism” in the early 1990s, writes that cyberfeminism is “born in the spirit of collaboration, defiance, and disruption.” The collaborative process in the Cyberfeminism Index project occurs on multiple levels, stages, and scales. In the earlier phases, when you crowdsourced entries, you collaborated with the web, the infinity. How did you decide to crowdsource, and how did you advertise for the submissions? Did any submission surprise you?  

MS: The original bibliography was listed in an open-access spreadsheet. I put it online to ask others what was missing or what could be revised, and it snowballed from there. The response was very surprising — it helped me recognize that many others were looking for this same body of content, especially in an era of widespread internet disdain. Many submissions surprised me, but this fits the ethos of cyberfeminism. It has allowed for and even encouraged a constantly mutating definition, which has led to a rhizomatic web of juxtapositions, though with a clear throughline of techno-criticism.  

Cyberfeminism Index, 2023, page 578-79, documented and published by Inventory Press, design by Laura Coombs.


DG: Can you speak more about the collecting process? Out of the 703 entries, are there particular ones that stuck with you?  

MS: In the beginning, I scraped bibliographies but reading theory led to more theory. In order for this to feel like an accurate reflection, I believed that theory and practice needed to be entangled. I then had many phone calls with theorists, artists, activists, and historians who provided more examples, which spiderwebbed into hundreds of references. This provided the foundation of the Index. When Rhizome commissioned the online database, developed by Angeline Meitzler, we included a glowing green submit button and most of the submissions came from there.  

I particularly love entries that focus on physicality, such as Klau Kinky’s Gynepunk. They are a Latin American collective that are seen as the “cyborg witches of DIY gynecology.” One of their projects is an .obj file of a 3D-printable speculum with instructions for how to do your own gynecological exams, directed at people without access to healthcare, like sex workers. I also love Mistress Harley’s data domination, a subset of BDSM that uses remote access for a mistress to interact with a sub’s computer. Here, they can access accounts for banks, social media, and other private information. It’s a power play that shows how the internet shapes identity and how we might relinquish our holds on this.  

YL: In the Introduction, you discussed American writer Ursula K. Le Guin’s Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction (1986) and how her conception of technology begins with the gatherer’s basket and not the hunter’s spear inspired your methodology. What did you learn from this gathering exercise?  

MS: Le Guin posits that the first tool was the basket, a tool for gathering, rather than the spear, a tool for domination. This does a few things. It shifts our understanding of the technology away from the digital and towards ancestral technologies. It also decenters the individual hero towards the collective, and, as I write in the introduction, “from he to we.” As a designer, I was struck by the importance this places on the container, rather than solely focusing on the collection. An appropriate container should amplify and bring together disparate parts of a collection, however porous it might be.  

Cyberfeminism Index, 2023, page 16-17, documented and published by Inventory Press, design by Laura Coombs.


YL: You identify yourself as the editor and gatherer of this project. I am keen to hear your thoughts and experience on the relationship and tension between gathering and making new assemblages. As one of the toolkits to navigate the over 700 resources, you invited 14 guests to offer their selected and guided reading. How and why did you choose them?  

MS: The collections were an important way to demonstrate the co-authoring of the Index. I see my role as a facilitator, but I do try to emphasize that all curatorial work is highly subjective, whether it’s in a grassroots archive or one housed in an institution — these are often presented as an objective truth or history.  

I invited curators for collections that could provide a magnified lens to a specific strand of contemporary cyberfeminism. Klau Kinky’s focused on hackfeminism, Skawennati on indigenous futurism, Annie Goh on sonic cyberfeminism, Melanie Hoff on the cybernetics of sex, and so on. These essentially mirror the practices of the respective artists, activists, and educators.

DG: What made you decide to end the index where it is now for the book? 

MS: Well, the website is a living index, and it will continue to crowdsource entries in perpetuity. We see the book as a snapshot of the website’s mutation. This tries to flip the hierarchy books and websites seem to have — from the immutable and legitimizing connotation of books versus the ephemerality of websites. We decided to “freeze” the version of the website from 2020 as the book because it was essentially the three-decade anniversary of the emergence of cyberfeminism in the early 1990s. 

Cyberfeminism Index, 2023, cover, documented and published by Inventory Press, design by Laura Coombs.


YL: I was immediately captivated by the neon green on the book cover. This vibrant, fluorescent color evokes the aesthetics of the 1980s and 1990s but also many signage I encounter daily, especially many frequently used apps. Admittedly, I found its thickness (600+ pages!) intimidating when I first opened the mailbox, but then the lightness and the texture of the paper took me by surprise. It reminded me of those Yellow Pages in the nightstand drawers at hotels I liked to flip through and find random pages to read when I was young. I am curious about the Cyberfeminism Index’s design and printing process. What questions and discoveries have you had? And how did the collaborative spirit show in this process?  

MS: Yes exactly! Laura Coombs, the book’s designer, and I wanted it to feel like a phone book or encyclopedia. We were very inspired by the New Woman’s Survival Catalog, McMaster-Carr, and Lucy Lippard’s Six Years. Something hefty, to indicate the large quantity inside, but with soft, recycled pages so it could feel like a sourcebook or something not too precious. Immediately, we knew that we could not do a direct translation from the website to book because the affordances of each media are so different. Because books cannot be dynamically sorted, we conceived of an “index of indexes,” with different ways to find content: the main index, image index, index of titles and index of people, and, of course, the collections described earlier. We also wanted to refer to the analog hyperlinks that informed the digital hyperlinks we are so familiar with today, so each entry includes a cross-reference to another in the book, encouraging nonlinear reading and “surfing.”

Cyberfeminism Index, 2023, page 564-55, documented and published by Inventory Press, design by Laura Coombs.


DG: Where do you see this index going? What is next? How do you think cyberfeminism and the Cyberfeminism Index will evolve in the future? 

MS: The website will live on in perpetuity — Angeline and I designed it with “future proofing” in mind. To the best of our ability and understanding, we tried to make decisions that would allow the design to grow as the browser grew, inheriting its “default” design. Many people have asked if we’ll print a second edition of the book, but as of now, maybe because I’m in the midst of the book tour, it’s not our intended goal. For this book, we wanted to create a virus… a way to infiltrate “legitimizing” institutions with our grassroots collection. With this in mind, it is included in the Library of Congress. It also serves as a citational hack, providing hundreds of secondary sources in print for many digital works.

These book tour events have felt like social gatherings that lead to more material gatherings, and people often submit to the site after each convening. In many ways, the project is an oath of maintenance, to do the quiet, methodical, invisible labor of upkeep over time.


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