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