Powering Up / Powering Down 1/30/04-2/1/04
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Lisa Nakamura

“The Multiplication of Difference in Post-Millennial Cyberpunk Film: the Visual Culture of Race in the Matrix.” (paper)

The Matrix sequels have proved a terrible disappointment to fans of the original film. One aspect of their reception remains the same, however: all three films in the trilogy are consistently under-theorized in terms of their racial politics and ideologies. This despite the fact that the first Matrix movie and its sequels are the among the most multiracial science fiction films to date, and Cornel West's cameo appearance as a council member reminds us of the salience of race in the construction of this filmic world. My paper will focus on the ways that the embodiment of information technology in the form of raced avatars maintains the concept of national, ethnic, and gender difference in what had been formerly seen as a neutral space-cyberspace.


Lisa Nakamura is Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Visual Culture Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is the author of Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet (Routledge, 2002) and a co-editor of Race in Cyberspace (Routledge, 2000). She has published articles on cross-racial roleplaying in Internet chatspaces, race, embodiment, and virtuality in the film The Matrix, and political economies of race and cyberspace in publications such as the The Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, Women's Review of Books, Unspun: Key Terms for the World Wide Web, The Cybercultures Reader, Reload: Rethinking Women and Cyberculture, Domain Errors! Cyberfeminist Practices, and the Visual Culture Reader 2.0. She is working on a new book entitled Visual Cultures of the Internet.

“Powering Up/Powering Down” is sponsored in part by the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA), the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), and the UC San Diego Department of Music in connection with the departments of Visual Arts, Music, and Literature at UCSD along with the UC Riverside and Los Angeles campuses.