Hackers create the possibility of new things entering the world. Not always
great things, or even good things, but new things. In art, in science,
in philosophy and culture, in any process of knowledge where data can
be gathered, where information can be extracted from it, and where in
that information new possibilities for the world produced, there are hackers
hacking the new out of the old. McKenzie Wark, Hacker Manifesto 2.0
In mainstream culture, hacking has many-mostly negative-connotations.
Acts of hacking can range from relatively harmless pranks, to those that
have economic consequences, to criminal actions. The activity itself elicits
both fear and fascination, and its aura of anonymity and inscrutability
makes it ripe for media exaggeration. Especially after September 11, 2001,
the usual official response to any kind of hacking has been to indiscriminately
codify it as "cyber-terrorism," diverting attention from its significant
In an age of increased surveillance, rampant commercialization, and privatization
of everything from language, to biological entities, to supposedly personal
information, hacking-as an extreme art practice-can be a vital countermeasure.
Particularly when combined with the ethics of the "open source" movement,
hacking represents an important form of institutional critique. Originally
devised as a process for the community creation and ownership of software
code, open source offers abundant applications for artists-and the public-because
of its transparency and communality. Open source allows artists to become
providers of functional tools with which users can create new forms of
information aesthetics, modes of activism, and content. Within this hybrid
domain, they can intervene on- and off-line, operating in public and hacking
the private, alternating or combining digital and analogue.
This exhibition includes the work of artists from the United States, Switzerland,
Denmark, Australia, and the United Kingdom who approach hacking as a creative
electronic strategy for resistance, rather than as a merely destructive
act. By using media and technology tactically, transparently, and collaboratively,
the artists reveal and subvert the way in which society, institutions,
governments, or corporations undermine individual identity, local control,
and citizen agency. The work in Open_Source_Art_Hack is new, but not without
history, since it shares an important legacy with artists who have always
been interested in the politics of art as a mechanism of protest.
LAN's Tracenoizer works on the principle of disinformation, using
automated tools to create a fake homepage based on searching the Internet
according to a person's first and last names. This fake homepage is then
propagated through various search engines, so that it becomes impossible
for anyone to verify personal data, providing a measure of anonymity.
Knowbotic Research's Minds of Concern::Breaking News consists of a
gallery installation, web interface, and newstickers. The project web
site contains a Minds of Concern list of groups, movements, and non-governmental
associations (NGOs) that have a global presence on the Internet. By clicking
a name, visitors trigger a set of network processes that investigate the
security conditions of a groupís server. The results are made available
on a newsticker that literally "visualizes" the strength or vulnerability
of a server and strobe lights and sounds correspondingly vary in intensity
in the gallery installation.
International computer collective RSG presents the packet-sniffing Carnivore,
which eavesdrops on network traffic through a wiretap device that plugs
into a local area network. By making the resulting data stream available
on the net, an unlimited number of "clients" can tap into, and visually
interpret this data. For the title of the work, RSG appropriated the name
Carnivore, which, until recently, was the nickname for DCS1000, a piece
of software used by the FBI to perform electronic wiretaps. Australian-born,
London-based on-line art group r a d i o q u a l i a transmit a low-power
radio broadcast, Free Radio Linux-literally lines of Linux source code-in
the museum lobby and through headphones suspended in the bookstore. In
Anti-wargame, Future Farmers' Josh On challenges the ideology behind most
computer games (that tend not to reward players with a social conscience)
with his own, anti-imperialist version. Cue P. Doll/rtmark jams the mediascape
by turning an advertising tool-a mouse barcode reader-into a means of
determining the ecological value of particular items by matching them
with a database of consumer products and their effects on the environment.
Berlin-based artist Harun Farocki's Eye Machine investigates "intelligent"
machines and weapons, while in her lecture Pretty Good Privacy, Rena Tangens
addresses issues of privacy, encryption and surveillance.
By their very nature, Open_Source_Art_Hack projects extend beyond the
museum itself, technologically and, in some cases physically. The Surveillance
Camera Players perform in front of public and hidden surveillance cameras
in Soho and mid-town, and Danish collective Superflex work with local
communities to create a Superchannel streaming media broadcast that can
also be viewed on the museum mezzanine. By using open source, artists
extend the life of projects in a way that revises the relationship between
artist, audience, and the social sphere (both virtual and real).
Organized by Steve Dietz, Curator of New Media, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis,
and Jenny Marketou, artist, New York City, in collaboration with Anne
Barlow, Curator of Education and Media Programs.
Please click here for additional information about the exhibition from
the curators of Open_Source_Art_Hack.
Photo credit: Josh On and Amy Franceschini of Future Farmers Anti-Wargame
Funding Rubbermaid has provided in-kind support for the presentation of
Open_Source_Art_Hack. Zenith Media Lounge is a digital and media arts
technology collaboration with Zenith Electronics Corporation. Zenith Media
Lounge exhibitions and public programs are supported by the Jerome Foundation
and the New York State Council on the Arts. Major support has been received
from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional
support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Fund for Exhibitions of Emerging
Artists at the New Museum. The development of the Zenith Media Lounge
was made possible by a generous grant from the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation
of the Communities Foundation of Texas.
do we show the vulnerability of NGOs and media artists?
What is a Public Domain Scanner?
What is Portscanning?
Art, Media and Legal Issues:
Artistic network practice on the bad guys space
CODES BAD GUYS SPACE
Fraud and Related Activity in Connection with Computers
For the Public Domain
Giorgio Agamben On Security and Terror
The Patriot Act