[rohrpost] Radical Software @ Piemonte Share Festival 2006

Hans Bernhard play at ubermorgen.com
Mon Mar 6 19:32:18 CET 2006

curated by *Domenico Quaranta*

TORINO, ACCADEMIA ALBERTINA, 08.03.2006 - 12.03.2006
web. http://www.toshare.it/ - mail. info at toshare.it

_[net]blog to log][ah!rhythm][_, 2006 -

AntiMafia, 2003 - http://epidemic.ws/antimafia/

Scream, 2005 � http://scream.deprogramming.us/

Super Mario Movie, 2005 -

Scribble, 2005 - http://www.initialnews.com/scribble

un_wiki, 2006 - http://www.in-vacua.com/un_wiki.html

Where-next, 2005 - http://www.where-next.com/

Window, 2005; Giant Cursor, 2005; 100 windows, 2005 -

Wasteoftime, 2003 -

McDonalds Videogame, 2006 �

Bush Bot 0.4, 2004 - http://www.bushbot.ath.cx/

GWEI [Google Will Eat Itself], 2005 �


If we leave aside its historical precedents, Software
Art, in its classical definition formalized by the
Jury Statement of �Transmediale 2001� [1] and
extended by Florian Cramer [2], saw the light in 1997
with The Web Stalker of the English Group I/O/D and
with the theoretical speculation started by one of the
software authors, Matthew Fuller. Right from this
example and definitions, Software Art reveals its
radical nature. The fact itself of transforming
software from a mere instrument into �subject� and
�contents� of a cultural and artistic reflection
represents a Copernican revolution liable to be
considered as heresy. Similarly heretic is the idea of
adopting a language (HTML), a protocol of
communication (HTTP) and
the whole system of cultural objects (the web) and
make them visible in a form that contrasts with their
own original function. Software Art is radical even in
its most harmless and politically neutral
manifestations; when, in addition, it overturns the
structure of the browser in controversy with the
standardization of its interfaces, and when it adopts
a slogan that sounds like: �software is mind
control, get some�, then the controversy turns into
poetics, the prime mover of a creative process.
RADICAL SOFTWARE is an exhibition including some
recent examples of radical software. The name pays
explicit homage to the magazine founded by Ira
Schneider and Beryl Korot in 1970, that had the merit
to combine, for the first time, political
considerations and use of the media (in that case
mainly video and television).
But, if the deep nature of these projects is
political, the initial target of the subversion they
put into effect is rarely so; and, even when it is,
the blow it receives is never direct, but it is the
ultimate consequence of an attack directed elsewhere,
similar to a bullet hitting the mark after being
diverted by a series of obstacles that are as many
primary targets. This is the case, for example, of
Bush Bot 0.4, of the ROVERBOTICS Group: which, after
insinuating doubts � with the support of manipulated
images � that George W. Bush may be a cyborg,
demolishes his politics, creating the software that
nourishes his totally artificial intelligence,
allowing people to talk to him and even dictate his
new speeches, through a simple chat system. No doubt
Bush is the target, but the blow is struck by drawing
on a by now classic story � Simulacres by Philip K.
Dick � and by parodying artificial intelligence
algorithms. In the same way, Mc Donald�s Videogame,
of the Italian game factory Molleindustria, attacks
the famous fast food chain, by subverting the form, by
now highly widespread, of advertising videogames.
Where Next, realized by the same Molleindustria in
collaboration with the advertising agency
Guerrillamarketing, attacks the spectacular way
adopted by the media when presenting terrorism and
their ferocious abuse of forms of betting games and
the most common advertising tactics as well as that
extraordinary instrument of location that is Google
Earth, with a type of political incorrectness that is
directly proportional to the implications of what it
reports. Both these products are very distant from
Software Art from a formal point of view and yet they
are very close to it from a conceptual point of view.
Different is the case of GWEI (Google Will Eat
Itself), realized by UBERMORGEN.COM in collaboration
with Italian Alessandro Ludovico and Paolo Cirio, that
takes to the extreme consequences the algorithm of
capitalism entirely adopted by Google, but it does
that to induce one of the powerful companies in the
world to devour itself in an extreme form of
digital cannibalism. The critical scope of Software
Art doesn�t even spare the culture of shared
knowledge based on hacker culture and the activism of
the media. Un wiki, by Wayne Clements is a very simple
software that limits itself to retrieving and making
visible the log file with contents refused by the open
and democratic community of Wikipedia: a crafty
speculation on the paradoxes of a system that matches
the maximum opening made possible by the software and
substantially oligarchic structure as the only
guarantor of the contents quality.
Antimafia (2003), of the Italian group [epidemic] is
instead software that automates and coordinates
collective actions. Based on a �peer to peer�
action, it makes it possible to share hacking actions
without any intervention from the user � apart from
the activation of the programme � and without a
leader that coordinates the action. It might seem the
solution to the problem of the effectiveness of
protests online, the �killer application� of net
activism; in reality, the first victim of this
programme is activism itself, deprived of any human
components and above all of leadership. Which
justifies the strange story of this project, rejected
and censored by the same community it was meant for. A
censorship which was actually caused by an error of
perspective: if Floodnet, software made available to a
community for a collective action online, was in every
respect a work of net.art, Antimafia, read in that
light, failed miserably; if it is re-read as Software
Art, instead, it hits the mark splendidly, showing
that �the code is not harmless� and revealing the
weak point of activism that withdraws when it
discovers that it can be really dangerous.
If Antimafia is a subversive interface disguised as
commercial software, emulating the �packaging� of
famous security software, most Software Art projects
make the interface the object of subversion. This is
an attitude inherited from the first net.art. from
JoDi which tears the browser to pieces in controversy
with corporative hi-tech. The premise is that standard
interfaces convey a specific ideology, and that
defacing, violating, reconstructing them in new forms
can be a form of re-appropriation and liberation.
I/O/D�s motto, �software is mind control, get
some� very well explains both Peter Luining and
Italian K Hello�s formal games as absolutely
harmless conceptual experiments in practice, yet
capable of pulling down in a moment the castle of
metaphors on which the graphic interface with windows
is based. In the same way Scream by Amy Alexander
manages at last to give us the satisfaction of a
physical outlet (in this case, a scream) that can
produce immediate repercussions on the stability of
the interface.
Others contest the surface, the froth of the data,
like Slavic Marketa Bankova with Scribble, software
that superimposes �graffiti� to the CNN homepage,
with the same pleasure as a child destroying the Lego
castle he has just built. This is the case of Super
Mario Movie, where Cory Arcangel breaks the world of
Super Mario into pieces and follows its fall with
satisfaction, turning the horizontal flow into an
endless vertical collapse, and depriving the game of
any possible interaction. A subtle subversion, that
disguises itself behind the pleasure of fruition but
isn�t less radical for that.
Finally, entirely focused on language is the operation
carried out by ][MEZ][, one of the best heirs of the
code poetry tradition. For ][MEZ][ language, even the
usually immediate language of a blog is a programming
code that can be disassembled and reconstructed, being
aware that if the Net has something to share with
Babel, this is the confusion of languages. For this
reason its �mezangelle�, an idiom that merges
natural language with IT code, becomes part, on one
side, of the great tradition of language
experimentation going from Dante to Joyce, and, on the
other side, picks up a great lesson from Dada and
Surrealism, i.e: discussing a society means firstly to
attack its logical and rational structure, exactly
embodied by the language.

[1] �...software art has the potential to make us
aware that digital code is not harmless, that it is
restricted to simulations of other tools, and that is
itself a ground for creative practice.� In F.
Cramer, U.
Gabriel, J.F. Simon Jr., �Jury Statement�, 2001,
reperibile online all'indirizzo
[2] �... software art could be generally defined as
an art: - of which the material is formal instruction
and/or - which addresses cultural concepts of
software...� In Cramer, Florian, �Concepts,
Software, Art�, 23 marzo 2003, reperibile online
all'indirizzo http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~cantsin

_[net]blog to log][ah!rhythm][_, 2006 -
][Mez][ presents his blog as �a reverse-engineered
weblog - read: _bio_log_ as opposed to a standardized
weblog�. In order to write it, you�ll need a
�mezangelle�, the polysemic idiom that you
adjusting by making hybrid the natural language, code
and metaphors on the web, carrying on the experience
started with e-mail art in the late 90s.

AntiMafia, 2003 - http://epidemic.ws/antimafia/
It appears as commercial software for Windows, with a
GPL licence. It is based on the �peer to peer�
programme, but instead of sharing files, its users
share protest actions. WSomebody launches a campaign,
the others join it, the programme does the rest, in a
form of direct democracy bypassing any mediation or

Scream, 2005 � http://scream.deprogramming.us/
Small software that, when activated, introduces in the
application bar an icon modelled upon the Scream by
Munch. It stays quietly there until the machine, for
some reason, makes us angry. And we scream. Then the
machine echoes our rage or our anguish and, as it
happens with the masterpiece of Symbolism, our scream
�pervades the whole nature�.

Super Mario Movie, 2005 -
Super Mario falls endlessly into a world broken in a
thousand pieces by a few code: Cory Arcangel tunes up
his electronic swan song to the landscape of our
childhood, accompanying it with an 8 bit sing-song and
giving at the same time a lesson on can produce a 15
minute video without wasting more than 40 kb of space.

Scribble, 2005 - http://www.initialnews.com/scribble
An ironical defacement of the CNN homepage, Scribble
superimposes on it are half way between urban graffiti
and scribbles we draw absent-mindedly, them in real
time according to the contents of the news. The
project uses a drawings that are picked up according
to the key words offered by the news, be further
extended, thanks to new drawings proposed by the

WAYNE CLEMENTSbr> un_wiki, 2006 -
Software that retrieves and visualizes the log file
containing inclusions �rejected� by the democratic
system of Wikipedia: a consideration on the
contradictions existing between the apparent
democratism of the software, that allows everybody to
load contents, and the substantial oligarchy of the

Where-next, 2005 - http://www.where-next.com/
A web page that makes it possible to bet on the place
of the next terrorist attack, locatable through a
service of Google Earth. The winner is awarded with a
T-shirt with a photo of the attack and the caption
�I PREDICTED IT!�. A strong reaction to the
spectacular representation of terrorism and
expectation of new attacks, induced by the media.

Window, 2005; Giant Cursor, 2005; 100 windows, 2005 -
Window opens a transparent window, through which one
can see what is underneath and work on it; Giant
Cursor installs a cursor-pointer of abnormal size, but
perfectly working; opens about a hundred empty pages
in sequence. Three minimal software products that can
be immediately de-coded, absolutely useless: but
capable of revealing, like few others, the
conventional metaphors that curb our experience about
digital space.

Wasteoftime, 2003 -
Author of disrespectful and paradoxical conceptual
software, K-hello invites us to an unjustified waste
of time (and space): fragmenting a text that we
inserted into hundreds of Web pages. The text is
legible only by putting the pages into a grid but our
computer was not up to understanding it: an experiment
of extreme dissociation between form and content, but
also in codifying the message in a form whose key to
decrypting is just one: patience.

McDonalds Videogame, 2006 � www.molleindustria.it
A Flash Videogame Sim City Style, where the video
player plays the role of the manager of McDonald�s,
busy with the management of the whole �assembly
line� of the multinational, from production, to
sales and marketing. An overturn of the logic of
videogames used for advertising purposes.

Bush Bot 0.4, 2004 - http://www.bushbot.ath.cx/
For who might have been impressed by Bush�s
�cyborg-like� behaviour, this is the programme
governing actions and speeches. Based on an old chat
system, the software makes it possible to chat with
Bush as well as to offer him new material for his

GWEI [Google Will Eat Itself], 2005 � www.gwei.org
Or: how to buy oneself Google with its own publicity.
GWEI is an organization that avails itself of the
support of a series of sites, subscribers of the
Google service Adsense (advertising links where the
subscriber earns a sum for each link clicked by its
users) and of software that manipulate the programme
to increase the number of clicks received by Google.
The money is reinvested in Google shares, bought and
then distributed among the users, after subscribing to
GTTP Ltd. (Google To The People Public Company) In
other words, Google is becoming slowly but
relentlessly devoured by its users, who take the money
paid for advertising.


Domenico Quaranta

mob. +39 340 2392478
email. qrndnc at yahoo.it
home. via x giornate 41 - 25030 brandico (BS)
web. http://xoomer.virgilio.it/mimmo40/


Hans Bernhard
UBERMORGEN.COM / etoy.holding

Skype Hans_Bernhard
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Email hans at ubermorgen.com