[rohrpost] Open_Source_Art_Hack, May 3 - June 30, 2002

Inke Arns inke@snafu.de
Sun, 12 May 2002 18:17:31 +0200


Zenith Media Lounge/The New Museum
May 3 - June 30, 2002

Organized by Steve Dietz, Curator of New Media, Walker Art Center, Minneap=
olis, and 
Jenny Marketou, artist, New York City, in collaboration with Anne Barlow, =
Curator of 
Education and Media Programs, New Museum

Artists: Critical Art Ensemble, Cue P. Doll, Harun Farocki, Knowbotic Rese=
arch, LAN, 
Josh On/Futurefarmers, radioqualia, RSG, Superflex/Tenantspin, Surveillanc=
e Camera 
Players, Rena Tangens

"Hackers create the possibility of new things entering the world. Not alwa=
ys 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 =
from it, and where in that information new possibilities for the world pro=
duced, 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. Ac=
ts of hacking 
can range from relatively harmless pranks, to those that have economic con=
sequences, to 
criminal actions. The activity itself elicits both fear and fascination, a=
nd its aura of 
anonymity and inscrutability makes it ripe for media exaggeration. Especia=
lly 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 social 

In an age of increased surveillance, rampant commercialization, and privat=
ization of 
everything from language, to biological entities, to supposedly personal i=
hacking--as an extreme art practice--can be a vital countermeasure. Partic=
ularly 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 co=
mmunity creation 
and ownership of software code, open source offers abundant applications f=
or artists--
and the public--because of its transparency and communality. Open source a=
llows artists 
to become providers of functional tools with which users can create new fo=
rms 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 privat=
e, alternating or 
combining digital and analogue. And by using open source, artists extend t=
he life of 
projects in a way that revises the relationship between artist, audience, =
and the social 
sphere (both virtual and real). 

Open_Source_Art_Hack includes the work of artists from the United States, =
Denmark, Australia, and the United Kingdom who approach hacking as a creat=
electronic strategy for resistance, rather than as a merely destructive ac=
t. By using media 
and technology tactically, transparently, and collaboratively, the artists=
 reveal and subvert 
the way in which society, institutions, governments, or corporations under=
mine individual 
identity, local control, and citizen agency. The work in Open_Source_Art_H=
ack 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. 

Swiss artists' collaborative Knowbotic Research installation Minds of Conc=
News consists of a gallery installation, web interface, and free downloada=
ble newstickers. 
Visitors trigger a set of network processes that investigate the security =
conditions of a 
particular group's server and evaluate whether it is secure or open to hac=
king attacks. The 
software processes used in Minds of Concern are dramatically transformed a=
externalized through light and sound signals in a kind of =93Alert Zone=94=
 in the main gallery 
space, as well as through textual data flows in the installation. 
LAN clones one's "data body" to counter invasions of data privacy. Traceno=
izer 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. Th=
is fake homepage 
is then propagated through various search engines, so that it becomes impo=
ssible for 
anyone to verify personal data, providing a measure of anonymity. 
International computer collective RSG presents the packet-sniffing Carnivo=
re, which 
eavesdrops on network traffic through a wire-tap device that plugs into a =
local area 
network. By making the resulting data stream available on the net, an unli=
mited 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 f=
or 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  tra=
nsmit a low-
power radio broadcast, Free Radio Linux--literally lines of Linux source c=
ode--in the 
museum lobby and through headphones suspended in the bookstore. 
In Anti-wargame, Futurefarmers' Josh On challenges the ideology behind mos=
t 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 m=
ouse barcode 
reader--into a means of determining "alternative" values of particular ite=
ms by matching 
them with a database of consumer products and corporate practices. 
Berlin-based artist Harun Farocki's Eye/Machine investigates "intelligent"=
 machines and 
In her lecture "Pretty Good Privacy," Rena Tangens addresses issues of pri=
encryption and surveillance. 
Artist collective Critical Art Ensemble and Beatriz da Costa present the p=
performance, GenTerra. This performance explores the environmental impact =
of the new 
organisms being produced by transgenics (the process of replacing the nucl=
eus of one 
animal's cell with that of another) and the economic forces that drive sci=
entific research, as 
well as the way that knowledge about such organisms is controlled.
By their very nature, Open_Source_Art_Hack projects extend beyond the muse=
um itself, 
technologically and, in some cases physically. The Surveillance Camera Pla=
yers perform in 
front of public and hidden surveillance cameras in Soho and mid-town, a ne=
performance, Amnesia.
Danish collective Superflex with Tenantspin work with local communities to=
 create a 
Superchannel streaming media broadcast that can also be viewed on the muse=


[see website]

Inke Arns

Out now:

Inke Arns. Netzkulturen. Europaeische Verlagsanstalt, Hamburg, 2002

Inke Arns. Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) - eine Analyse ihrer kuenstlerisch=
en Strategien im Kontext der 1980er Jahre in Jugoslawien. Regensburg 2002.=
 ISBN 961-90851-1-6