Quotes from Dodai Stewart’s article “On Miley Cyrus, Ratchet Culture and Accessorizing With Black People, Rohin Guha’s article “Iggy Azalea Bounces Backwards With Disappointing Clichés” and Jaya Bedi’s article “Beyond Bindis: Why Cultural Appropriation Matters”.
The #iggymosh is a critique of cultural appropriation. I’m making the argument that cultures are not costumes, people are not accessories and that appropriation of Otherised cultures is disrespectful. The crux of this critique is the idea that cultural signifiers such as the bindi on Indian women are symbols of Otherness, where these same signifiers on Western people are perceived as fashion statements. The colour of your skin can easily dictate the terms at which this signifier is received. My work references the histories of “Colonised Others” as having experienced a forced assimilation in which they were to actively reject their own cultural signifiers in favour of the Colonisers. It is therefore inappropriate for the Coloniser to then pick and choose the Other’s signifiers as fashion statements. The wearing of cultural signifiers by Western people often diminishes the meaning of the signifier and dehumanises the Other.
The research I’ve been doing explores decolonisation and the rejection of assimilation by these Others. Colonised Others are given no other option but to assimilate and appropriate Western culture in order to play the game that is not theirs (Mignolo). Being aware of the grammar of coloniality allows us to challenge it, and the datamosh work I create is about formulating a visual language for this rejection. My initial glitch work came from understanding my identity as an Anglo-Indian. I looked at myself as a glitch in the colonial system, and the critique I’m making is that biracial children are unexpected outcomes in a system of forced assimilation.
By datamoshing the videos, I am asserting my awareness of the digital/political system by being disobedient inside it. I am inserting the human into the code and creating errors, that the digital system doesn’t know how to compute. By doing this, I am in some way acting out decoloniality in a digital framework. The work itself aims to make us “aware of the medium, its structure and its politics” (Nick Briz) and have us feel uncomfortable and concerned by it, but simultaneously curious about its potential.