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Minds of Concern::Breaking News, 2002

posted by curators on Thursday April 25, @04:56PM   

Knowbotic Research. Minds of Concern::Breaking News
installation in collaboration with Peter Sandbichler

This project consists of a gallery installation, a Public Domain Scanner, and a free downloadable newsticker. Through a graphic interface, visitors can select "Minds of Concern"--groups, movements, or NGOs such as Oxfam, Freedom from Debt Coalition or COSATU--that are engaged in critical global activities inside our networked society.

knowbotic : minds of concern : public domain scanner
"Why do we show the vulnerability of NGOs and media artists?

NGOs and media artists are an important part of the contemporary enlargement and diversification of the political and cultural landscape. They enact a reconstruction of the public domain in a globalised world.

The Internet is a crucial tool of these social and political agencies. It facilitates a broad and potentially open system of communication and information.

At the same time, there is an increasing awareness that the Internet is encroached by concerns about security: data security, privacy, military security, etc.

The dilemna of these security concerns is that they seek to protect a public domain which is corrupted by the very attempts to secure their functionality.

This dilemna is the central theme of this project. By scanning the ports of the NGO's and media artists servers we are trying to pinpoint the dilemna of NGOs and media artists having to protect an independent and progressive political and social practice through security measures which are constantly being tried, tested and attacked with ever new invasive tools. In the project, we are only using non-invasive scanning tools, which are essentially harmless and much milder than the tools that crackers and the NGO's, media artists, and systems administrators alike use in order to detect security holes on the Internet servers.

In this project, we are also interested to determine the borders of what is and what is not legal in the (US) public domain, and we are trying to seek out the areas of friction between an active construction of the public domain, the expansive US legal system, and the debilitating dimensions of an intensively patrolled, supposedly open communication and information infrastructure like the Internet."
Knowbotic Research
Minds of Concern::Breaking News consists of a gallery installation, Public Domain Scanner, and a free downloadable newsticker. Through a graphic interface, visitors can select "Minds of Concern"--groups, movements, or NGOs such as Oxfam, Freedom from Debt Coalition or COSATU--that are engaged in critical global activities inside our networked society. This list will also include artistic media activists and all participating artists in Open_Source_Art_Hack. By clicking a name in this list--either in the installation or on the website--visitors trigger a set of network processes that investigate the security conditions of a particular group's server, and sense whether it is secure or open to hacking attacks. The results are made available on a newsticker that can be downloaded from the project page, literally visualizing the strength or vulnerability of a server to people worldwide.

The software processes used in Minds of Concern are dramatically transformed and externalized through light and sound signals in a kind of Alert Zone inside the main gallery space, as well as through textual data flows in the installation. A main feature of this installation are plastic constructions made of Rubbermaid food boxes and trash baskets, opening up a control space for the network processes and connoting as well the in/stable structures of daily life.

This is the first time that the work of Knowbotic Research has been shown in New York. Knowbotic Research was established in 1991, and has experimented with formations of information, interface and networked agency. Their more recent projects present artistic practice with media in an attempt to find viable forms of intervention in the public domain. Since 1998, Knowbotic Research has been teaching and carrying out research in the New Media Department at the University of Art and Design, Zurich, Switzerland. Their projects have received major awards including: the Hermann Claasen Prize for Media Art and Photography 2001; the international Media-art award, ZKM, Karlsruhe, 1997 and 2000; August Seeling-Award of Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum 1997; Prix Arts Electronica, Golden Nica 1994 and 1998. Knowbotic Research has recently exhibited in major new media exhibitions including: Borderhack 2.0; "Defining Lines, Breaking down borders," online-exhibition, 2001; Biennale for Architecture and Media, Graz, "Infospheres"; Transmediale Berlin, "netbased participation and social software", 2001; ISEA Paris, 2000; and ZKM Karlsruhe, "net_condition", 1999 and in international art exhibitions such as Art Basel, "Liste2001"; Kunstverein Hamburg "Aussendienst", 2000; 48th Biennale Venice, Austrian Pavillon, "Open Fields of Action" 1999.

Peter Sandbichler is an independent installation artist and sculpturer, who has been collaborating with Knowbotic Research on their major installations for several years.


Anti-Wargame, 2002


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  • Knowbotic Research
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  • http://unitedwehack.ath.cx/
  • Public Domain Scanner,
  • newsticker
  • Knowbotic Research
  • http://www.krcf.org Knowbotic Research. Minds of Concern::Breaking News
    installation in collaboration with Peter Sandbichler

    This project consists of a gallery installation, a
    Public Domain Scanner,
  • newsticker
  • More on Open_Source_Art_Hack
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    Minds of Concern::Breaking News, 2002
    | 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.
    portscan (Score:1)
    by steve on Tuesday May 07, @09:33PM ( #15)
    User #6 Info | http://netartcommons.walkerart.org/
    Date: Tue, 7 May 2002 16:46:31 +0200
    From: Florian Cramer
    To: Nettime
    Sender: nettime-l-request@bbs.thing.net
    Precedence: bulk
    Reply-To: Florian Cramer

    Am Tue, 07.May.2002 um 13:14:24 +0200x schrieb knowbotic.research:
    > MINDS OF CONCERN::breaking news
    > http://unitedwehack.ath.cx
    > http://unitedwehack.homeunix.net/minds3/


    > In the project, we are using non-invasive SECURITY scanning tools, which
    > systems administrators alike use in order to detect security holes on the
    > Internet servers.


    All 1549 scanned ports on ( are: UNfiltered

    Interesting ports on (
    (The 1542 ports scanned but not shown below are in state: closed)
    Port State Service
    22/tcp open ssh
    80/tcp open http
    111/tcp open sunrpc
    443/tcp open https
    901/tcp open samba-swat
    3306/tcp open mysql
    6000/tcp open X11

    + unitedwehack.ath.cx :
      . List of open ports :
          o general/tcp (Security warnings found)
          o general/udp (Security notes found)
          o unknown (32768/tcp) (Security warnings found)
          o general/icmp (Security warnings found)

      . Warning found on port general/tcp

            Microsoft Windows 95 and 98 clients have the ability
            to bind multiple TCP/IP stacks on the same MAC address,
            simply by having the protocol addded more than once
            in the Network Control panel.
            The remote host has several TCP/IP stacks with the
            same IP binded on the same MAC adress. As a result,
            it will reply several times to the same packets,
            such as by sending multiple ACK to a single SYN,
            creating noise on your network. If several hosts
            behave the same way, then your network will be brought
            Solution : remove all the IP stacks except one in the remote
            Risk factor :

      . Warning found on port general/tcp

            The remote host uses non-random IP IDs, that is, it is
            possible to predict the next value of the ip_id field of
            the ip packets sent by this host.
            An attacker may use this feature to determine if the remote
            host sent a packet in reply to another request. This may be
            used for portscanning and other things.
            Solution : Contact your vendor for a patch
            Risk factor :

      . Information found on port general/udp

            For your information, here is the traceroute to :

    Read the rest of this comment...

    [ Parent ]
    Subject: Re: PUBLIC DOMAIN SCANNER (Score:1)
    by steve on Thursday May 09, @03:07PM ( #17)
    User #6 Info | http://netartcommons.walkerart.org/
    Date: Wed, 08 May 2002 17:27:40 +0200
    From: "knowbotic.research"
    http://amsterdam.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettim e-l-0205/msg00046.html [nettime.org]

      >I've never received an email that has caused me quite so much concern,
      >indeed, terror.

    Yes, you are potentially right. Each network actor who does not follow the
    legal guidelines of the political logic of security immediately becomes a
    focus of concern.
    If we published the precise vulnerabilities of the public domain in the
    networks, the 18 U.S.C. 1030 Fraud and Related Activity in Connection with
    Computers would make us hackers=terrorists.
    (see http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/cybercrime/1030_new. html
    and the new Amendments

    In relation to our project PUBLIC DOMAIN SCANNER, minds of
    concern::breaking news
    this means concretely:
    A) if we used in this Public Domain Scanner the full range of a Security
    Scanner, i.e. enact also intrusive scans,
    B) and/or we published the adresses of the scanned servers and their
    we would turn immediately illegal.
    Thats the dilemma: security becomes the leading principle of today's
    politics; if you dare to go in this political mousetrap (public domain is
    the zone of instability and contestation, and has nothing to do with the
    concept of security=regulating disorder by means of appeasement) and
    discuss, crisscoss, enact publicly/in networks the concept of security, the
    law forces you immediately to obscure the topic.
    We had hoped to raise these issues unobscured in an Art museum, but since
    Art Instutions are unwilling to enter this zone, even or maybe especially
    not in an 'Art Hacking' show, due to the ubiquitous paranoia and threat of
    getting sued, - the museum and the curators made it very clear to us that
    we as artists are 100% alone and private in any legal dispute -, we decided
    by ourselves to hide parts of the information on the scanner.
      >, but more importantly, who is behind it?
    The artist group Knowbotic Research, based on vulnerable site, part of a current show in NY New Museum called
    OPEN_SOURCE_ART_HACK. (netartcommons.walkerart.org)

    have a look at Critical Art Ensembles Book4: Digital Resistance: (chapter:
    2 The Mythology of Terrorism on the Net
    and i hope you will find out who uses tactics of near random paranoia,
    panic and (virtual) violence in order to define critical people als
    terrorists. The sovereign imposes an immanent threat on network actors of
    making them terrorists, or even become himself the cracker (see German
    interior minister Schily's state actions of cracking websites).
    We think the only way of escaping this spectacle of paranoia in networks
    demands new tactics and agencies inside the domain of the public. Such new
    ways of public acting cannot fall into the trap of the worn dichotomy of
    private and public but rather open new possibilities of public agency for
    domains of the commons which include tactics which were seen as
    inappropriate for the contextualization of the public domain in the
    modernist sense. Instead of referring only to the concepts of transparency,
    visibility and manifestation, we suggest to upgrade the public agencies
    with non-representational activities like encrypting, rendering invisible,
    disinforming, hiding, fleeting, tunnelling, disturbing, spoofing, and other
    camouflage tactics.



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    Read the rest of this comment...

    [ Parent ]
    Knowbotic Research project shut down? Comments? (Score:1)
    by SvenRobert on Monday May 13, @08:12AM ( #18)
    User #34 Info
    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 [nytimes.com] 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?

    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 software 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 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
    [ Parent ]

    Ornithology is for the birds as criticism is for the artists. -- trude. ;-)

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