THE RIGHT TO KNOW (AND COPY)
Curated by Sabine Niederer
Closely connected to the Impakt Festival theme of 2011, The Right to Know, Impakt Net Art shows three commissioned art works and a selection of existing projects, that breathe radical transparency. What is classified information in the age of the leak and the dump? Does every secret call for a whistleblower? And should we consider an initiative like WikiLeaks as forerunners of a data-dump avant-garde or should we view Julian Assange as “a terrorist” in the same way that Ghandi was, as the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek put it? How can visual languages of secrecy, power and transparency be researched, dissected and taken to the next level?
This year’s edition of Impakt Online presents art projects that research and give face to dynamics of power, secrecy and leakage, from the right to know to the right to copy. Unveiling the legal labyrinth of The Cloud, collecting and screening banned videos, and appropriating the templates and icons that make up our modern world, the online exhibition explores the impossibility of secrecy and the limits to openness. With: Metahaven, Dagan Cohen and Hendrik Jan Grievink & Coralie Vogelaar.
Impakt Net Art is Impakt’s platform for online art, previously known as Impakt Online. Impakt Net Art stimulates the development of new art projects on the Internet, and gives structural support to internet art. Special attention is directed at projects that utilize properties of the Internet in a creative way. Yearly, Impakt Online commissions three online artworks that are launched on the website in an online exhibition. During Impakt festival, the works are presented and contextualized, often in the form of presentations by the artists themselves.
In 2011 Impakt Net Art and SKOR | Foundation for Art and Public Domain organized the discussion “The Right to Database”. Furthermore, the works ‘History is Yours!’ as well as ‘Banned Videos’ were part of the festival exhibition The Right to Know – Free State, at the Academiegalerie Utrecht.
The Right to Know (and Copy) features three commissioned art works by: Hendrik Jan Grievink & Coralie Vogelaar, Dagan Cohen (Upload Cinema) and Metahaven.
Related works by: Aram Bartholl, James Burke and Chris Pinchen, Paolo Cirio & Alessandro Ludovico, Katy Connor and Duncan Rowland, Evidon.Inc, Peter Galison and Rob Moss, MIT Media Lab, Julian Oliver and Danja Vasiliev, Trevor Paglen & Institute of Applied Autonomy.
Curator: Sabine Niederer
History Is Yours! Hendrik Jan Grievink & Coralie Vogelaar
Challenging logos and styles make us believe that we are individuals or that we are part of a larger group. Recognition is the most successful product of today. Life has become lifestyle and lifestyle is everything.
Did you use to sift through obscure mail-order catalogs or visit a concert of your favorite band to get the t-shirt, now they hang rows, stone washed and ready-worn in your local H&M store. Culture has become a recognizable set of templates, filled with slogans and icons.
History is Yours! is a fashion webshop with icons and text elements from 20th-century history. You are invited to create your own design by combining image and text in a t-shirt printing, which refers to the dark pages of history, hope, life events, or a disturbing combination of both.
Concept & Design: Hendrik Jan Grievink & Coralie Vogelaar
Technical Realization: Koen Martens
Banned Videos Dagan Cohen (Upload Cinema)
Every day 3 billion videos are watched, every minute 48 hours of video are Uploaded on YouTube alone. Amongst those millions of videos circulating on the web occasionally videos are removed. Not only because intellectual rights are being violated, but also because in some cases their content is deemed ‘inappropriate’ by governments or organizations.
Banned Videos is an ongoing project that aims to collect and show videos around the world that have been removed (or attempted to be removed) from the web, whether for political religious or ethical reasons. Anyone can contribute to the project by submitting a banned video. On a regular basis videos from the collection will be screened at cinemas, exhibitions and at relevant conferences. By doing so we hope to give a voice to those who have been silenced by others.
Concept: Dagan Cohen (Upload Cinema)
Web design: Kimberley Spreeuwenberg
Technical realization: Koen Martens
Cloud Coin Metahaven
A cloud coin is a virtual symbol which gets inserted into the viewing experience of a website. The symbol resembles a coin, toke, or jewel. It contains information retrieved from the whois information of that website, and from a Google search for its domain name. This brings together information about the geographical hosting and ownership of a domain, with information on what that domain may have been involved in or used for, as far as such information is publicly available. As the viewer accesses a domain through the Cloud Coin website, the system generates “currency” for that particular domain which becomes visible in the browser window in the form of “cloud coins” which partially obscure the site behind them. Domains that build a high correlation of whois data with Google search results generate more currency than domains for which such correlation is mostly absent.
For example, “mypremierfutbol.com” in 2010 was exposed as one out of two domain spaces used to remotely control the notorious Stuxnet virus targeting Iranian nuclear facilities. It is assumed that Iran did not intercept communication from this domain as suspicious, because it appeared to come from a soccer fansite. Hosting for this domain is at Scottsdale, Arizona-based domainsbyproxy.com, a service which offers extreme discretion for its customers. It has been suggested that the United States, and possibly Israel, were behind Stuxnet. Domains by Proxy was never served with a US court order to give up client information for the fake soccer site.
When Googling for mypremierfutbol.com, this is the first hit:
“Is Serco behind Stuxnet?, page 1
17 posts – 9 authors – Last post: 1 Oct 2010
What does Serco Education and Children’s Services have to do with www. mypremierfutbol.com and www.todaysfutbol.com which are both …”
Cloud Coin assumes that the more a domain name, as an isolated term rather than referring to an organization, is the subject of reporting, speculation, and discussion (as measured through Google.com search results), the more likely it is that there may be particularities to its whois information. Entering a url into a window on Cloud Coin produces the intended domain, plus the “currency” of that domain under this assumption.
Concept & Design: Daniel van der Velden & Vinca Kruk (Metahaven)
Technical realization: Koen Martens
Website: to be announced
Read an interview between Metahaven and Annet Dekker about the project.
This selection features works of art that are related to the theme of ‘The Right to Know (and Copy),’ and includes works by Aram Bartholl, James Burke and Chris Pinchen, Paolo Cirio & Alessandro Ludovico, Katy Connor and Duncan Rowland, Evidon.Inc, Foundland, Peter Galison and Rob Moss, MIT Media Lab, Julian Oliver and Danja Vasiliev, Trevor Paglen & Institute of Applied Autonomy.
Dead Drops – Offline file-sharing network by Aram Bartholl, 2010
‘Dead Drops’ is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space. USB flash drives are embedded into walls, buildings and curbs accessable to anybody in public space. Everyone is invited to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your favorite files and data. Each dead drop is installed empty except a readme.txt file. explaining the project.
Chokepoint – Data Visualization Project by James Burke and Chris Pinchen, 2011
During the recent uprising in Egypt, in January 2011, the order was given to “turn off” the Internet, sending shock-waves around the world. Murmurs were heard of US security agencies and American politicians asking for access to a similar kill switch. These actions force us to look at who owns The Internet? This is where the Choke Point Project comes in mapping the nodes of control in service of the multitude of global citizens under who authoritarian regimes can act upon without their consent. We are in favor of exploring approaches to the decentralization of access in favor of guaranteeing connectivity as a counter-weight to the control of the Internet by nation states and corporate influence.A team comprised of web researchers, software developers and data visualization experts aim to gather data from across the web and show the control points, while clearly explaining the issues involved: history of Internet control, current legal situation, choke points, possible strategies for decentralization, reasons for and against kill switches.
Pure Flow – iPhone and iPad App by Katy Connor and Duncan Rowland, 2011
PURE FLOW [mobile edition] is a mobile artwork by Katy Connor that reveals new perceptions of technological systems, transforming the iPhone and iPad into a live probe revealing the noise between GPS satellites, 3G networks and Wifi hotspots as a tangible presence in the environment. Once activated, PURE FLOW visualises these signals as a sliver of fluctuating white noise, responding directly to the movement and immediate environment of the device. The user can directly manipulate the outcomes, by touching the visual and sonic patterns triggered by fluctuations in the data, sampling this immersive and enveloping field.
FACE-TO-FACEBOOK - Web Platform/ Scraped Facebook Content by Paolo Cirio & Alessandro Ludovico, 2011
For their “face to facebook” project Paolo Cirio & Alessandro Ludovico downloaded thousands of Facebook pictures to further tear them out of context and put them up on the custom-made dating website lovelyfaces.com. With the help of face-recognition software they analyzed the facial expressions of the collected pictures and matched people on the basis of their mien.
The mission of the project was to give the collected virtual identities a new shared place to expose themselves freely, by breaking facebooks constraints and social rules and to further show how easy it is to scrape personal data and to abuse it without people knowing.
Ghostery - Browser tool by Evidon, Inc., 2011
Ghostery is your window into the invisible web – tags, web bugs, pixels and beacons that are included on web pages in order to get an idea of your online behavior. Ghostery tracks the trackers and gives you a roll-call of the ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers, and other companies interested in your activity.
Watching revolution through a hole in the wall – Foundland, 2011
Foundland presents an entirely fictional narrative of perseverance and protest, based on a personally selected archive of Internet evidence related to the present situation in Syria.
While President Bashar maintains that mysterious “armed groups” are responsible for the widespread killing of civilian protesters in his country, he can only prove this by showing reporters images of the perpetrators. Meanwhile Western media, although not allowed to enter Syria, report that Bashar has in fact hired armed gangs to shoot at protesters for the purpose of photographing them in action. A powerful and ruthless regime needs to be media savvy in a time when it’s resilient and fearless citizens maintain the power to report events through social media to the rest of the world. Finding out the “truth” behind what is exactly happening becomes a complex investigation of eye witness accounts, rumours, confessions and lies. Foundland member, Ghalia Elsrakbi (Damascus, 1978) closely followed the events of the Syrian uprising through the Internet and personally experienced her Facebook account transform into a battleground of political opinion and a vehicle for propaganda, both pro and against the Bashar regime.
Secrecy - Documentary by Peter Galison and Rob Moss, 2008
This film is about the vast, invisible world of government secrecy. By focusing on classified secrets, the government’s ability to put information out of sight if it would harm national security, Secrecy explores the tensions between our safety as a nation, and our ability to function as a democracy.
FUNF – Open sensing and data processing framework by MIT Media Lab, 2011
The Funf Open Sensing Framework is an extensible sensing and data processing framework for mobile devices, developed at the MIT Media Lab. The core concept is to provide an open source, reusable set of functionalities, enabling the collection, uploading, and configuration of a wide range of data types. Data can for instance be collected through the sensors of a mobile phone, via everyday use.
Newstweek - Wireless Hotspot Manipulation Device by Julian Oliver and Danja Vasiliev, 2011
‘Newstweek’ is a device for manipulating news read by other people on wireless hotspots. The device connects with the local wifi network and allows users to edit news read on wireless devices, without the awareness of their users. The project signals a word of caution, that a strictly media-defined reality is a vulnerable reality. ‘Newstweek’ received the Golden Nica award at Ars Electronica 2011.
Terminal Air – Flight-tracking software and database by Trevor Paglen & Institute of Applied Autonomy, 2011
Terminal Air is a project that explores complex interconnections between government agencies and private contractors involved with the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s extraordinary rendition program. Since the mid-90’s, the CIA has operated the extraordinary rendition program, in which suspected terrorists captured in Western nations are transported to secret locations for torture and interrogation. A thoroughly modern enterprise, the extraordinary rendition program is largely carried out using leased equipment and private contractors. These private charter planes often use civilian airports for refueling, making their movements subject to public record and visible to anyone who knows which tail numbers to look for. However, while these missions are carried out under the guise of protecting the American people, the nature of the program has thus far remained out of reach to both American and International law. With only the knowledge of what these planes have been used for in the past, human rights activists are left to view their movements as a vast “black box” and can only speculate whether any specific plane is currently carrying human cargo en-route to being tortured in a so-called CIA “dark prison”.
Information is Currency, a collection of works from leading designers, illustrators and artists responding to themes generated by the recent WikiLeaks cable releases and subsequent fallouts from such.
“Whatever ones’ personal opinion of WikiLeaks, it has brought to the surface issues of freedom of speech, privacy, transparency and power. The show here opens up a dialogue with each other within the creative industry and furthers the debate of the creative’s role to play both now and in the future. Often, or everyday we are handed briefs requesting us to reach a particular market and tap into their desires using our creative noses and skills. This here represents a challenge to a much more difficult terrain, one that investigates our relationship to society and requires us to look within to find our own opinions and positions.”
Produced by: UP^ & Chimera Production
Curated by: Jamie Balliu @ UP^ & Jeff Knowles
Impakt Online Event: The Right to Database
During Impakt festival The Right to Know – 6 November 2011
The widespread availability of data has led to an explosion of creative practices formulated around the collection, analysis, and visualization of information. The inevitable backend of these exercises, the database, was forefronted in this program by Impakt Online and SKOR NetArtWorks.
Discussion with: Bernhard Rieder, Graham Harwood, Linda Hilfling, and the above mentioned artists. The discussion was led by Bernhard Rieder, assistant Professor of New Media at the University of Amsterdam and Assistant Professor at the Hypermedia department at Paris VIII University. He is particularly interested in the role of algorithms in social processes.
With their project Data Visualisation as Documentary Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokokoji (YoHa) critically investigate the gap between the perception of the wider public about the social reality created by data and the actual databases. Furthermore, YoHa tries to find out in what way the information generated and used by different protocols, services and facilities affect the formation of the databody in the health system. Taking the public health records of the UK and Netherlands as their case study, they mapped out the authorities, polices, and rules that hold it in place and give it meaning.
Linda Hilfling’s project A Public Domain is an open wireless network, which anybody can log onto to access the Internet. All the data that passes through the network will be filtered in such a way that texts that are not in the public domain are substituted by empty spaces, i.e. those words or phrases get replaced that, regardless of their graphical representation, are registered as trademarks in the jurisdictional area in which the network is established. A Public Domain is a wireless network intervention that simultaneously adopts and amputates the utopian notion of the net as a public space.
This discussion was organized in collaboration with SKOR | Foundation for Art and Public Domain.