ďWe are all the network, all of us who speak and listen.Ē
Ricardo Dominguez, born in Las Vegas, Nevada, is a net.performer who was trained as a classical actor. He started working with a group of artists, theorists, and activists during the early 1980s in Tallahassee, Florida - who later became Critical Art Ensemble. As a member of Critical Art Ensemble (1987 - 1995), he took part in the development of the theory of electronic civil disobedience and a performative matrix that would emerge from non-violent direct electronic action.
In an attempt to put the theory of electronic civil disobedience into practice he moved to New York City in 1991. Between 1991 and 1994 he lived in the squats of New York City and trained himself to use the emerging technologies: from simple e-mail to early html code. Ricardo began to work with The Thing network (http://bbs.thing.net), with artist and founder Wolfgang Staehle and with Jordan Crandall on Blast 5: Drama (http://www.blast.org/) as a senior editor in 1994, as well as working on more intimate projects with Dollyoko hauntings (http://www.thing.net/~dollyoko) and with Diane Ludin on the Aphanisis Project.
In 1994, like many others, he received an e-mail from the Zapatistas at one minute after midnight 1994 - The First Declaration of the Lacandona - which declared that 28 Mayan communities in Chiapas, Mexico were in resistance to the dictatorship of the Mexican PRI party and imposing of NAFTA (the free trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. From that point on, Ricardo became a Street Zapatista and a Digital Zapatista.
Digital Zapatismo has been one of the most politically effective uses of the Internet to date since January 1, 1994. It has created a counter-distribution network of information with about 100 or more autonomous nodes of support. During 1996, Ricardo used RealAudio and the beta version of RealVideo to do his Zapatista Port/Action at MIT. For four months he did live interviews with Zapatistas from around the world - in order to build stronger networks - what, the Zapatistas called ďThe Intergalactic Networks of Struggle and Resistance.Ē It was via this performance that he met activist scholar Stefan Wray, Carmin Karasic (who was Ricardoís tech support person at MIT) and net.artist Brett Stalbaum.
The Electronic Disturbance Theater has become a staging area for heated debates about electronic civil disobedience and hacktivism. Many on the Left and Right speak of these Virtual Sit-Inís as digitally incorrect actions that block bandwidth. These networks believe that clogging communication pipelines is not only immoral, but an act of what the U.S. military call cyberterrorism or cybercrime. But EDT feels these position are mistaken - and that the only cyberterrorist and criminals are the .milís and the .govís.
EDT follows the theater history of Bertolt Brecht, The Living Theater, El Teatro Campesino, Bread and Puppet Theater, and specifically the work of Gran Fury (AIDS activist performance group). These electronic gestures are a new type of agit-prop actions, reflecting a critique and discontent by world-wide communities of structural inadequacies of neo-liberalism as expressed by NAFTA. EDTís networked performances have also opened access and communication between three important groups: net.arts, net.activist and net.hackers.
EDT saw at the end of 1999 several important hacktivist actions against the WTO URL in Seattle and Etoys vs Etoy actions that followed the process established by EDT during 1998. They are involved most recently in the on-line actions against the IMF (International Monetary Fund) on September 26, 2000 in Prague. EDT will continue to explore the theory and practice of electronic civil disobedience for the use of the html communities today and tomorrow.
Ricardo Dominguez will cover this history in greater detail - as well as covering the current condition of hacktivism, tactical media, the toywars, net.art, Digital Zapatismo and some futurological forecasting. And perhaps even a few tales about Mayan Technology.