The CHAT Project: Phase I, II, and III.
by Barbara Lee
The CHAT project explores the multiple ways in which
women communicate themselves and how their communication relates to the
evolution of telecommunication technology. The work seeks to document
female relations to communications technologies during the middle 1990's
and beyond. The assumption is that each technology is determinant of a
specific way of life.
First, how do women communicate them-selves today
and how has their personal communications changed since childhood?
Secondly, how is telecommunications technology changing (positive and
negative) the way we structure our daily relations, our communities, and
our definition of a global society?
Artistically I am driven by several factors to pursue
this work. First, "What constitutes big in
an invisible site; where there are no coordinates?" Second, "How can I,
begin to create work when my own dialog is so shallow, my lifetime of
perceptions are filtered by technology since I reside within the belly of
the North American beast?"
In the beginning of my research for this project,
I found scant documentation from women's multiple points of view regarding
the emerging telecommunications technologies an how theses technologies
are changing our homes, communities, and global societies. With few exceptions,
the majority of available information focuses primarily on women's points
of view from the United States. This almost inaudible social whisper has
driven me to a learning and listening frenzy; as I hope it will you.
In PHASE I, CHAT consisted
of home interviews conducted within the diverse Bay Area community to
include women: of color, who are physically challenged, of generational
diversity, from a variety of careers and educational levels.
During PHASE II,
I collected additional interviews inside the CHAT installation site, at
the SF Museum of Modern Art during the Utopia/Distopia Women's Annual
Conference co-hosted by The Lab and CameraWorks.
Gallery visitors were encouraged to: browse existing interviews,
be interviewed, be an interviewer, and help build their page on this web
site. These interviews represent the digital bits into what (I hope) will
eventually become a trillion gigabytes of women's voices. Voices of record
during (what I feel) is one of the most extraordinary time periods of
change in 20th century communications history.
I plan to continue phase one and versions of phase
two in conjunction with other art or women's conferences until January
31, 2000. As new interview bites are collected they will be posted to
this temporary Chat web site until a permanent site has been secured.
The CHAT web site is PHASE
III. It is a temporary solution sponsored by YLEM: A.U.S.T.
In theory, this site allows the Chat project
to travel around the globe collecting your interviews and enabling your
online friends to view your interview and respond with their own interviews
to create a virtual CHAT environment.