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Knowbotic Research project shut down? Comments?
posted by steve on Monday May 13, @06:12PM   

Sven Robert Hillman writes:

Hey there,

Though, I'm based in Canada, I do keep a regular eye on the New York Times, and I couldn't help but notice the article Matthew Mirapaul wrote, Museum's Cyberpeeping Artwork Has Its Plug Pulled which outlined how this work had been closed down by the New Museum.

I wondered if any of the artists, or in fact the curators (who I understand were acting independently of the New Museum), would like to comment on this?

Christian Hübler of Knowbotic Research is quoted as saying that
"because when I work with the border as an artist, I want to know at least what the border might be."
This comment made me wonder what kind of legal investigation had preceded the installation of the work - on behalf of the artists, and the curators, and in fact the museum?

As a native of Europe (I'm originally from Denmark), I couldn't help note Mirapaul's comment, that "European digital artists are more politicized than their American counterparts ...".

Aside from the fact that this is a fairly meaningless generalisation (though not strictly 'artists' as such, one can't help reflecting on the fact that RTMark are US based, as are the collective, RSG, who feature in the exhibition with their 'cultural' version of the FBI software, Carnivore), how do the curators view this comment? [See also Alex Galloway's comments to this effect.--SD]

Is there a paucity of intellectual political debate in the public artistic sphere, on issues around privacy, secuity, and open information?

If so, why is this the case?

As a colleague of mine pointed out to me as we read the Times this morning, one can't help remembering the overwhelming array of US-based events and movements which have promoted the open exchange of information, and have highlighted the insecurity of electronic networks. To mention but a few, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was founded in the US, Phil Zimmerman released his PGP book from there, PGP was invented there, the free softwaee movement came from the US, the main PGP encryption algorithims (RSA/Diffe Helman) were invented in the US to promote public encryption, and the first big hacker cases were in the US.

These things have been major issues in the Public Domain. Have they not impacted on art discourses in the States at all? And if so, why has this, rather minor technical and legal issue come as such a surprise, causing such a fracas? Is the new media artworld in the US so new/naive to these discourses, that a minor activity such as port scanning could cause such a controversy?

I'd be interested in the responses of both the artists, and the curators, on these points.


Sven Robert Hillman
Winnipeg, Canada

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  • Carnivore
  • New Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Knowbotic Research
  • NetArtCommons
  • RTMark
  • RSG
  • Alex Galloway's comments
  • Sven Robert Hillman
  • article Matthew Mirapaul wrote
  • Museum's Cyberpeeping Artwork Has Its Plug Pulled
  • More on Open_Source_Art_Hack
  • Also by steve

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    Knowbotic Research project shut down? Comments? | Login/Create an Account | Top | 4 comments | Search Discussion
    The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
    re: sven, alex + legal bug (Score:1)
    by knowbotics on Tuesday May 14, @01:48AM ( #20)
    User #36 Info
    Sven, Alex,

    replying to: http://netartcommons.walkerart.org/article.pl?sid= 02/05/14/0414200&mode=thread

    > Is there a paucity of intellectual political debate in the public artistic sphere, on issues around privacy, secuity, and open information?

    Don't let us get into a 'i'm more illegal than you are' discussion. alex's point is in a way valid, and it shows that mirapaul's article is imprecise, but that is not a problem, so long as people don't start discuss the mass medias truth value - the point of MM's article (and of his questions) was directed at the *news value* of the story.
    if the discussion is supposed to go a for me challenging direction, it needs to continue the analysis of the relationship between technology, art and legality.
    There was no real problem until now with the New Museum, they let our project go to articulate the legal pub, it would have been a mistake not to make the legal bug visible after we had met him. Therefore we decided not to portscan from Europe after our legal US port
    scanner was shut down. So here is the string i would like to suggest, let us enact the legal bug:

    Wendy Seltzer, http://openlaw.org
    Your experience here is actually a very interesting part of the project. It demonstrates how private parties can exert control of the public domain well beyond what the law requires. Even with institutional support for your installation, you are often at the mercy of other economic actors -- the ISPs whom the museum and you depend on for connectivity, who in turn depend upon higher-up ISPs to preserve their connections to the Internet. Any player in this chain has the ability to break the connection and prevent you from displaying and contributing to the public discussion, based on its own feelings, contracts, and interpretations of the law, before any judge is called in to determine whether the activity is legal.

    Steve Dietz:
    The fact that Minds of Concern is potentially undermined by the legal system in the form of a standard or "shrinkwrap" license the New Museum has with its ISP is not insignificant. It is precisely a legal bug and the strategy by which so much of the public domain in the U.S., at least, escapes Constitutional and other legal protections by entering into [voluntarily?] contractual agreements that void and/or supercede these supposed rights.

    Commment Mailing List Lachlan Brown:
    Indeed, the distinction between assumed rights and legal guarantee of rights, public and private, residesin an interstitial state. Not a 'grey area' to be filled in between the public and private by new conditions for cyber' space, but a contest in which like a Venn Diagramme the public and private vie over the terrain they both occupy.
    Add to this the interests of several dozen States, thousands of public service institutions hundreds of thousands of companies and millions of users, well... . What would we call it? War? Wrestling? or Seduction? A Million times a million contests. Cultural confusion.These webs of the law are durable and have easy translation to the new media distributive terrain. Despite word play or administrative/bureaucratic assumptions of power. The really interesting fact is that States, institutions, companies, individuals, but not collectivities like artists, writers, coders, primary producers and so on, are beginning to 'stand-off' this terrain. We might, after all, consider a return to the question of the aesthetic, and then of policy, and thenof law over several years. It will become clear as we do so that we NEED insitutions, new institutions perhaps, that are able to host the work you do.

    >This comment made me wonder what kind of legal investigation had preceded the installation of the work - on behalf of the artists, and the curators, and in fact the museum?

    I worked with Wendy Seltzer on the legality of the portscanning in the US after the patriot act. The value of being legal as an artist in an art show was set at highest priority from the curators of the Open_So

    Read the rest of this comment...

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