on Tuesday May 07, @08:46PM
A conversation between Jenny Marketou and Steve Dietz, curators of Open_Source_Art_Hack. This discussion was initiated after an invitation from the Breeder as a special
project, and it will be featured in the upcoming edition The Breeder #6, in June 2002.
"The selected works in Open_Source_Art_Hack (OSAH) are by media artists, collectives,designers, hackers, activists, filmmakers. Some of the artists write their own tools and software, some open source their code, some create game interfaces, some visualize digital data or use information in a very "improper" manner, while others hack with existing cultural systems of power and control. But independently, from the electronic and computing tools they use, the ultimate motivation of the artists is social concern and tactics of subversion, which have been addressed by proposing radically alternative uses of virtual and real space, the museum or the street."--JM
Steve, for several months now we have been spoofing, spooking, hacking,
cracking, searching, constructing, extracting, exchanging, collecting,
open sourcing; keeping our conjoined ideas and energies alive through many strands of conversation, emails and meetings to organize the exhibition Open_Source_Art _Hack. I do not think it is very important to give a full account of how all this came together. I am sure
historians and new media critics will give a full account in the years to come.
What made me do this? Open Source_Art_Hack draws from a wider research
interest in hacking and net art in which I got engaged with a grant
from MECAD in Barcelona, Spain, last year, and particularly from my own interest and practice as a new media artist using the Internet.
It has been my understanding that always the social, cultural and political structure of the works of artists are credited to the technology which they are using but although most of the works in this exhibition are on line Open_Source_Art_Hack is not only about net art, connectivity and tactical media. I see as one of the goal of this exhibition to explore a broader phenomenon, where the free "e-conomy" of software as a social object meets with the extreme skills and tactics of hackers in order to construct a virtual platform for creative production. It is the nature of hacking to be destructive and constructive as well as "to discover freely, to invent freely, to
create and to produce freely,” to quote McKenzie Wark. This reminds me of David Cox, who suggests that Joseph Nicephore Niepce (creator of the first fixed photo) was a light hacker by using cameras, chemicals and
The selected works in Open_Source_Art_Hack (OSAH) are by media artists, collectives,
designers, hackers, activists, filmmakers. Some of the artists write
their own tools and software, some open source their code, some create
game interfaces, some visualize digital data or use information in a
very "improper" manner, while others hack with existing cultural
systems of power and control. But independently, from the electronic and
computing tools they use, the ultimate motivation of the artists is
social concern and tactics of subversion, which have been addressed by proposing radically alternative uses of virtual and real space, the museum or the street.
A good example of an artist group that lies in this intersection of meaning and beauty is Knowbotic Research the collective based in Zurich, established in 1991,
which does an excellent job of weaving together notions of tactical
media, software aesthetics and pop culture in their web-based installation
project Minds of Concern :: Breaking News.
The installation is made out of constructions of Rubbermaid red, white and blue plastic containers reminiscent of a wall-flag and scattered on the floor in an arbitrary way opening up, according to the artists, "a control space for the network processes and connoting as well the unstable structures of daily life." Through a "Public Domain Scanner," visitors can trigger a set of network processes by port scanning software, which evaluates the vulnerability of a particular server to hacking attacks. The network processes are simultaneously transformed and externalized through light and sound signals in the space of the gallery. The result is a dramatic visual and acoustic experience, which activates the gallery space, augmenting the sensorial experience of data visualization.
What attracts me to this work is the irony and contradiction between the beauty of everyday life--i.e. the Rubbermaid containers--and the subversive tactics of hacking intersecting with the appropriation and abstraction of digital data, which is then dynamically transformed and materialized into a bodily light and sound experience for the user.
And since it has been so much discussion lately about the magic of "new
media aesthetics" the question that can be posed here is what kind of
meaning and beauty can be produced by the intersection of art and
tactical politics nowadays? What kind of communities and artistic
generations have been created by a pop-oriented attitude, which is less tied to
ideologies and more to the politics of software economy and data
It is for several years, actually, as the kernel of Open_Source_Art_Hack was
presented at Medi@terra 2000 in Athens, albeit as conjoined shows--"Game Patching and Hacking Sublime" and "Outsourcing Creativity? The Audience as Artist"--rather than the greater integration of our show at the New Museum.
Nevertheless, I think we are approaching the topic of OSAH from oblique
angles, which has been extremely fruitful. This is not a show that I could
have done by myself.
I like the metaphor of Niepce because he was what the media historian Dieter
Daniels refers to as an amateur. Dieter makes this argument in relation to
radio as initially a point-to-point medium that amateurs hacked out of the
ether, so to speak. And to reference another favorite trope of my, Jon Ippolito has argued that the fundamental relation of the artist to technology is one of misuse (however skilled). So, for me,
there is a whole other history of hacking that relates to amateurs and
networks and conscientious misuse, but which is not necessarily or overtly
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.
Perhaps the counter example to Knowbotic's project, which proves the rule,
so to speak, is RSG's Carnivore. Knowbotic builds up a structure out of
everyday materials--Rubbermaid containers. RSG disassembles the guts of the
computer, hanging them on the wall like silicon hides. In both cases, the
artists are subverting the normative presentation of their materials. In
both cases, the process is like a question. Why the scanning/sniffing? To
(mis)quote George Bush, is it for good or evil? Knowbotic scans
Internet-connected web servers for weaknesses. RSG's Carnivore sniffs the
packets of the internal LAN traffic. In both cases, visualization is
critical but Minds of Concern uses the data scanned to trigger sensory
overload in the gallery environment as a kind of alarm. The Carnivore
clients create visualizations of the data itself, divorced from the meaning
of its content. Neither is explicitly tactical in the manner of, say, Electronic Disturbance Theater's
Floodnet software, but both, I would argue, are creative hacks, and it is
the process of their art that is tactical/political and potentially radical,
not its content per se.
McKenzie Wark, Hacker Manifesto 2.0
This may seem inadequate to some viewers, and I'm not even sure the artists
would agree with me about this, but just as you say you come to OSAH through
a wider interest in hacking and net art, I come to OSAH through a burgeoning
interest in the notion of a public domain as instantiated in a digital
commons. It is important--to me at least--that such an idea support a wide
range of tactics from the overt to the covert, from the tactical to the
conceptual, from open source to self-determination, and yes, including the
I found very interesting while I was reading your views and comments
about the OSAH the reference you make to the hacker as "amateur" and the
misuse of the medium in relation to the radio. There is a long history
of the improper use of the radio by amateurs going back to Major Edwin Howard Armstrong inventor of FM frequencies in 1936, the GI Pirate
Radio in the War in Vietnam, to today's free pirate radio online
networks around the world, the mp3 search engines, and napster, which
operate based on the concept of open source and free distribution of
software. Obviously they are all advocates of radio as the medium for
freedom of speech, social connectivity, sharing and free distribution
in the public domain of "ether" as you said.
I wanted to begin with this summary becomes it contains some common
grounds with projects such as r a d i o q u a l i a's Free
Radio Linux, an online and on-air radio station and one of the projects in
OSAH. Adam Hyde and Honor Harger founded the online art collaboration
r a d i o q u a l i a in Australia in 1998 as a means of experimenting with the intersections between broadcasting, music, sound and new
media. The sound transmission consists of a computerized
reading and distribution of the code used to create the Linux operating
system. In their OSAH installation, visitors will hear the sound as soon as
they enter the museum.
I find certainly very intriguing the transmission and the dynamic
reading of the entire Linux kernel which contains 4,141,432 lines of
code, translated by the artists into an audible stream and making apparent what is
usually invisible and not heard. In the same way that I find extremely
intriguing Artaud’s radiophonic creation "To have Done with the
Judgment of God" (in which America has been denounced as a baby
factory, war-mongering machine) and in the audible sampling and remix
culture of DJ’s jamming and clubbing, as all three are subverting the
norms of their mediums. What I am arguing here is that the "art"
is located less in the individual website or radio project and more in
the collective manipulation of all aspects of the network.
Which brings my thread of thought to what German
media theorist Siegfried Zielinski said during the symposium "Mediations: Archaeologist and Transformations in the Electronic Sphere" at The Austrian Cultural Forum in New York on April 20. To paraphrase, he defined new media
civilization in relation to activity and deep time, and as an example he
used The Three Princes of Serendipity to define the importance and the
complexity of variation and accidental discovery as opposed to a
direct and specific dimension of coherence, which brings us back to the
notion of the "amateur" as "hacker" of new possibilities.
Frankly this also makes me think of the art of "pranksters" which is
embedded in serendipity, as they both subvert the established
system of coherence, reclaiming imagination and fantasy in the accidental
and in the misuse of the public domain and mediascape.
Perhaps also relevant to today's conversation about innovative methods of distribution
by radio and Internet is to look into the streets and the dynamics of
accident in the French Situationists' derive and detournement. As we all
know, there is an important legacy of artists who have been
concerned with the public domain and The Surveillance Camera Players
(SCP) is one of these groups.
SCP were formed in November 1996 by a New York-based group of
Situationist-inspired pranksters who manifest their opposition to the
installation of surveillance cameras in public places by performing
silent, specially adapted plays realized with puppets and signs directly in front of the cameras. The group also organizes walking tours in New York showing the locations and different types of surveillance cameras in the streets around them.
The aim of SCP as social activists and performers in front of the
surveillance cameras shares, to a great extent, the tension to
reconnect (through the accident of detournement) art with life and by
doing so to subvert the norms of the public domain into a mis en scene for
intervention. The most interesting thing about SCP in my opinion is that their
performances bring out through jokes and free play an alternative
use of the city. At the same time, the social nature of their
artistic production directs our attention to the tools of surveillance
and control and our fundamental right to privacy.
In the end, I do wonder how useful it is to apply the label
"hacking" to qualify and limit our understanding only of the diverse ways that
artists are using hacking tactics and strategies. Thus, the more
relevant question for me is less whether the artists in the OSAH are
making enough innovative hacking strides at the moment, but rather how
has hacking and "open sourcing" altered their artistic production?
This is not to dismiss that behind the imagination--the creativity of
each amateur--there is not also meaning. We all want to say something
about the world and the culture which is around us. So the subject for
me in OSAH is not only to examine distribution as an end to
itself, but as well the distributed political or social critique that
comes from each project.
It is interesting--and quite correct, I think--to think of SCP in relation
to the Situationists, although you could also say, I suppose, that their
route through the city is completely overdetermined by the mapping of a
distributed and disembodied panoptic gaze. Yet where a project like the
Institute for Applied Autonomy and Hactivist's Maptivist literally maps a "route of least surveillance," SCP is in effect turning the gaze into a kind of unwilling yet complicitous audience.
This is one of the tensions that interests me a great deal--the role of the
institution vis-a-vis the hactivist artist. There is a rich history of
artists hacking "systems," whether it is SCP and the surveillance grid or
Cornelia Solfrank's Female Extension or Graham Harwood's Mongrel Tate or Keith Obadike's use of eBay to sell his blackness or Rachel
Baker's TM Clubcard or RTMark's Whitney Biennial 2000 free-for-all to name just a few important
Part of the lesson of these projects, to my mind, is that many artists
understood much earlier than most institutions what was going on with the
Internet. They were able to produce amazing leverage by presenting
hoaxes--sometimes very elaborate ones--as the hype-come-true. The
functioning of this practice was not unlike a traditional avant garde,
except that any investment in the authority of the conventional artworld was
underwhelming at best.
But even as institutions are incorporating these artists' work into their
own practices of commissioning and presenting, artists such as Knowbotic
Research and Critical Art Ensemble are raising the stakes. For them, it is
inconceivable to "pretend" to simulate the scanning of computer security or to release a transgenic organism. It has to be the real (mediated) thing.
Frankly, this forces institutions to scramble; to weigh the remote
possibility of legal entanglement with the desire for integrity; to balance
artistic freedom with institutional survival--or self-interest, perhaps.
What results is a kind of 21st-century replay of the tragedy of the commons.
Corporate and government imperatives are marking the "digital commons" as
either anti-individual--e.g. Napster taking away the means for individuals
to profit from their efforts--or anarchic and in need of greater control
for the greater good. In this light, Knowbotic's Minds of Concern, for instance, is a kind of early warning system of just how unrobust is our
public discourse, forcing Knowbotic to change its motto for the installation
from "United We Hack" to "/OPEN_LEGAL BUG _ARTISTIC_SELF-CENSORSHIP" for
fear of the possibility of retaliation, essentially.
The real tragedy is that the discourse is all around legalistic
interpretations of vaguely worded law compounded by an economics of risk
management. The arts can claim nothing new in this regard, perhaps, but many
if not all of the artists in Open_Source_Art_Hack are presciently and
creatively pointing to the loss of a public domain that may only be
crushingly obvious when it is too late.
I agree with the issues which you have just brought up regarding the role of
the institution and the hacktivist net artist. I would like to continue by
pointing to another issue which interests me regrading the relationship
between the institution and the hacktivist.net art, which from the artist’s
point of view I find very relevant in the premise of Open_Source_Art_Hack.
My question is what are the conflicts in creating and presenting
radical net artwork that has been commissioned, supported and filtered through
corporate funding and art institutions?
"As hackers become politicized as activists become computerized we are going to see an increase in the number of cyber-activists who engage in what has become more widely known as Electronic
Stefan Wray, 1998
There is no question that net artists understood very early the creative
manipulation of networks and how to use information over the net in a
subversive way against the grain of the art system. However, without being
nostalgic, net art has changed very drastically since 1997, the summer when I
met for the first time in Banff, Canada, Alexei Shulgin, Vuk Cosic, irational.org (Rachel Baker and Heath Bunting), ®TMark, and CAE; when art
was mailing lists, spam, email, websites, links, web rings and mirrored
sites--all devices for hacking into and parasiting networks for alternative
Of course, there is a large number of net artists whose work continues to adopt
creative and subversive uses of the net and reaches wide audience and
mainstream media such as Mongrel, Etoy,
0100101110101101.org, and plagiarist.org , to name a few in addition to those Steve that you have already mentioned before and whose work falls in
between net art and net hacktivism.
However as you know the mainstream institutions and conventional art world
have absorbed this kind of net art very soon. I wonder if this happened only
because this kind of work acts as disturbance rather than as an act of
enactment and internal critique within the museum.? My argument here is what
happens when the institution comes to radical, hacktivist net.art
aesthetics, when there is more emphasis on direct action, transparency and
Because action, unlike the hoaxes, is impregnable. Heath Bunting's seed kit
can be displayed on the wall of the ICA in London, but just let the ICA try to
spread genetically modified weeds.
For the same reasons, institutions show for their online
exhibitions only the documentation of political net.art work
such as EDT's Zapatista Flood Net.
I would like to refer back to Knowbotic and CAE .It is very obvious that
Knowbotic’s Minds of Concern is not only about disturbance but it is in fact
an enactment of hacking or direct action, which the institution has difficulty to
support. As a result Knowbotic had to change its motto in their installation
from UNITED WE HACK to OPEN_LEGAL BUG _ARTISTIC_SELF_CENSORSHIP. And Critical
Art Ensemble, a direct action collective, could only perform GenTerra
in the museum once they jumped through a number of hoops. The institution would prefer the simulation to the original. Both incidents suggest that the forces of the institution have not been able yet to balance artistic freedom for action with an actively internal critique from
within the museum space, which has as a result that some artists in OSAH censor
themselves in order to show their work.
Knowbotic disturbs and critiques in a way that is not bound only on hacking
the net but points directly to the public domain. It alerts us of the presence
that we should acquire inside the programs, the systems, the technological
models as in public life "which will shape the potential of effective fields of
action," as Christian Huebler, one of the members from Knowbotic, said to me during our
negotiations with the institution a few days ago. Which describes fiercely our
relationship of artists and institution till today and which always the avant
garde has been dealing with.
Frankly I would like to add here that the artists in Open_Source_Art _Hack
visibly and artistically demonstrate their concern for the future of a digital
and public domain connecting the street and the virtual as place for direct and
free action and unless the institution supports this kind of voices unfiltered
it won't be long that the "digital domain," as you refer to it, will be privatized
and wasted away into user interfaces.
I think the issue of radical art practice is an important one to
understand. From my point of view, something like rtmark's Whitney Biennial
2000 project, in which they used their "slot" in the Biennial--the first
time it presented net art--as an open network for anyone to participate in
not only was specific and appropriate to net culture, but it also hacked the
biennial system of curatorial choice and artistic "stardom" in a funny yet
challenging and equally appropriate way. On the other hand, it's not clear
to me that it would make the same sense to stage a FloodNet action against
the Mexican government, say, as an exhibition strategy. Perhaps the NEA
server or even the exhibition server with the right framing, but my point is
that a "public domain" would and should support a wide range of activities,
some of which would make sense--without being "domesticated"--in a museum
setting and some of which would not.
I'm interested in the ways that institutions--and curators--can and should
lend themselves to being hacked. Doing this, as you point out, is an
extraordinarily delicate balance, which may be gotten "wrong" as often as it
is pulled off. Does this mean it shouldn't be tried? Even so, it is not the
same as saying that the institution is even an interesting place for all
radical art practice. It's not.
The other thing that I think we have debated constantly and tried to keep in
mind in pulling this show together is an expanded or at least not-exclusive
definition of hacking as direct political action. As Micz Flor points out in
his excellent essay on r a d i o q u a l i a's Free Radio Linux:
"In a unique blend of contemporary academic and legal debates as well as
technological possibilities, Free Radio Linux is formulating questions to do
with the relation of language and code, technology and art, the history of
community radio and computers, as well as the battle of freedom of speech
and copyright protection. And how is it doing it? Simply by reading
thousands of lines of source code on the air and on the web."
As he points out, while the Linux kernel may seem arcane to many, this issue
of whether code is a language and hence subject to constitutional protection
is a critical issue for the existence of a robust digital public domain.
Micz refers to 70s and 80s radio broadcasts of computer code for compilation
as one of the important historical contexts for Free Radio Linux and the
whole idea of convergence of media. I think another interesting antecedent
is the "pirate radio" of poetry readings in a seminal show like Jack
Burnham's "Software" at the Jewish Museum in 1970. This show, which included
the likes of Hans Haacke, Joseph Kosuth and Ted Nelson, could be said to be an early
precedent for low power transmission as an alternative means of
dissemination and reception. Both histories, at the community level and the
institutional level intersect at the notion of public domain, outside of or
at least orthogonal to government and corporate control.
Or take Josh On's Anti-wargame. One example of "direct action" would be
Rtmark's videogame intervention, in which they switched the code of a
shipping commercial game to include gay soldiers and homoerotic storyline.
Josh's ultimate aim is just as radical, I would argue, but he is taking more
of a DIY approach and creating an anti-wargame that hacks the cultural meme
of war, so to speak, Anti-wargame is explicit in the sense that "winning the
war" is losing the game and that by creating a society that protests and
ultimately shuts down the war effort and topples the president, you've won.
This is both an overtly politicized storyline, but it also hacks at the
hidden assumptions behind hugely popular games like "Sid Meier's Civilization"
or "SimCity". By changing the rules so drastically, Anti-wargame makes us
reconsider the more hidden and often unquestioned rules of other games.
Similarly with LAN's TraceNoizer project. There is a purely fun moment of recognition when the user understands how TraceNoizer utilizes ubiquity to ensure privacy. With
this move, however, LAN hacks the meme of "information at your fingertips"
to highlight it as a privacy issue without hitting you over the head, so to
speak, with the need for strong encryption that is not considered a
munitions, etc. etc.
To me, these are all examples of creative hacking and part of the curatorial
goal of Open_Source_Art_Hack is not to argue for a hierarchy of hacking or a
purity of hacking but to highlight a diverse yet not comprehensive set of
tactical responses, which can be deployed appropriately and effectively in a
wide variety of contexts--but not necessarily every context (of course).
I agree with you of @TMark ‘s Whitney Biennial 2000 project as a good
example of imaginative and creative radical art practice in the same
way that I find fascinating the hacking and cloning of HELL.COM by
0100101110101101.ORG in February 1999. HELL.COM was born as a conceptual
piece a container for net art sites and art galleries in which it is
possible to get in only if you are invited and whom list of members is
kept secret. When HELL.COM organized "surface" a show with several
superstar net artists, which was opened exclusively to RHIZOME
subscribers for 48 hours. 0100101110101101.ORG downloaded all the files of
the site and the clone has been put on line, this time anti-copyright,
visible, reproducible and easily downloadable. According to
0100101110101101.ORG, they did this under the conviction that information
must be free and accessible, but HELL.COM threatened them with legal proceedings
on the grounds of copyright violation and plagiarism, which points to
another creative use of tactical media.
In The Practice of Every Day Life, De Certeau analyzed popular culture
not as a domain of texts or artifacts but rather as a set of practices
or operations performed on textual or text like structures and how do
we as consumers use the texts and artifacts that surround us. He
described the process of consumption as a set of tactics by which the
weak make use of the strong. He characterized the rebellious user as
tactical and the presumptuous producer (in which he included authors,
educators, curators and revolutionaries) as strategic. Setting up this
dichotomy allowed him to produce a vocabulary of tactics rich and
complex enough to amount to a distinctive and recognizable aesthetic.
CueJack--a free software developed by Cue P Doll and hosted by rTMark--subverts and parodies the CueCat concept by allowing Cue Cat’s scan to
dig out information on the web about corporate mechanisms. CueJack is a
parody software of the Cuecat bar code reader, which "hacks" into closed
systems of information. This software turns CueCat's freely available
bar code scanner--which was meant to aid shopping from home and to help
keep messy information away from consumers--into a tool through which
users regain control by learning about corporate behavior and abuse
or boycotts against them.
On the other hand, there are artists who recognizing the necessity for
collective action demanded by the media such as film and electronic tape
to expose and to explore the power of media images as artifacts of our
culture for public consumption. Harun Farocki's Eye/Machine puts the emphasis on
the poetics of simulation, transparency, mass media, sampling and the moving
image, which is bound to the social beyond the digital domain. Farocki,
like Josh On's Anti-wargame deals with war but instead of a DIY game,
Farocki adopts rigorous and subversive approach to filmmaking by hacking or misusing images from the Gulf War of 1991 to bring to our attention to the fact that what was brought into play during this conflict was not the weaponry but rather a new policy on images, such as early warning
systems, area surveillance and other monitoring devices that created
the basis for electronic warfare. The Gulf War saw the loss of the
"genuine" picture, as it became impossible to distinguish between the
photographed and computer-simulated image, thus making redundant
existing notions of historical witness and challenging our assumptions
about the meaning of images in our culture.
Finally I would like to mention the following code from an anonymous
"hacker," which I found on a Situationist list.
Hackers share and are willing to teach their knowledge.
Hackers are skilled. Many are self-taught, or learn by interacting
with other hackers.
Hackers seek knowledge. This knowledge may come from unauthorized or
unusual sources, and is often hidden.
Hackers are tinkers. They like to understand how things work and
want to make their own improvements or modifications.
Hackers often disagree with authority, including parents, employers,
social customs and laws. They often seek to circumvent authority
they disagree with.
Hackers disagree with each other. Different hackers have different
values, and come from all backgrounds. This means that what one
hacker is opposed to might be embraced by another.
Hackers are persistent, and are willing to devote hours, days and
years to pursuing their individual passions.
This Code is not to prescribe how hackers act. Instead, it is to help
us to recognize our own diversity and identify.
Every hacker must make his or her own decisions about what is right or wrong, and some might do things they believe are illegal, amoral or anti-social to achieve higher goals.
Hackers' motivations are their own, and there is no reason for all
hackers to agree.
One of the fascinating things about Open_Source_Art_Hack is the
excitement of discovering of each other's different points and
existing differences, which had as a result to bring together diverse
and distinctive artistic voices and aesthetic practices by artists
from different cultures, backgrounds and social concerns. Their
propositions have challenged our perception about art when art meets
with the tactical, direct action, public, digital domain and traditional,
SD: To quote from the introduction to the exhibition:
According to the Jargon File—-part Bible part open source dictionary for net
culture--hacking has many different and often opposing meanings, from the
mundane to the esoteric, from "research" to mischief to crime.
Originally, a quick job that produces what is needed, but not well. 2. n. An
incredibly good, and perhaps very time-consuming, piece of work that
produces exactly what is needed. 3. vt. To bear emotionally or physically.
"I can't hack this heat!" 4. vt. To work on something (typically a program).
In an immediate sense: "What are you doing?" "I'm hacking TECO." In a
general (time-extended) sense: "What do you do around here?" "I hack TECO."
More generally, "I hack `foo'" is roughly equivalent to "`foo' is my major
interest (or project)". "I hack solid-state physics." See Hacking X for Y.
5. vt. To pull a prank on. See sense 2 and hacker (sense 5). 6. vi. To
interact with a computer in a playful and exploratory rather than
goal-directed way. "Whatcha up to?" "Oh, just hacking." 7. n. Short for
hacker. 8. See nethack. 9. [MIT] v. To explore the basements, roof ledges,
and steam tunnels of a large, institutional building, to the dismay of
Physical Plant workers and (since this is usually performed at educational
institutions) the Campus Police. This activity has been found to be eerily
similar to playing adventure games such as Dungeons and Dragons and Zork.
See also vadding.
At first glance, Open_Source_Art_Hack presents an equally broad array of
practices from tactical portscans by Knowbotic Research to the "data
aesthetics" of RSG’s Carnivore to the gameplay of Josh On’s Anti-wargame.
In every case, however, while the content of a work may be more or less
overtly political, the process of its creation intersects with the ideology
of open source to suggest and model a world view that is often referred to
as the public domain and the digital commons.
Today, as more and more of the world of ideas--from everyday phrases to
irreplaceable genomic data--is copyrighted, trademarked, patented,
licensed, and otherwise legally controlled by corporations and governments,
the curiosity and daring of the hack combine with the ethics of open source
to challenge this "fencing" of the intellectual commons to try and promote a
robust public discourse that is a minimum requirement for a creative and
First posted May 8, 2002.
Bare Code: Net Art and the Free Software Movement
Net art and hacking