4 case studies
- 1) Claude Shannon's Ultimate Machine
- 2) A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter by Caleb Larsen
Every ten minutes the black box pings a server on the internet via the ethernet connection to check if it is for sale on the eBay. If its auction has ended or it has sold, it automatically creates a new auction of itself. If a person buys it on eBay, the current owner is required to send it to the new owner. The new owner must then plug it into ethernet, and the cycle repeats itself.
- 3) The self-referential aptitude test (genius!)
- 4) Alerting Infrastructure! by Jonah Brucker-Cohen
- The are very simple in their "output"
- They do one, and one thing only
- Nonetheless, they can be complex technically, and conceptually
- Most importantly : the final product is purposefully designed to destroy the agency this same product could have. They are basically created to cancel themselves out - their authors (makers) had a clear intention in making these pieces, knowing that the sole purpose of them would be to undo themselves..
What, how, why
So where am I going with this?
(we're only at v.0.2 - let's keep a few doors open still)
I would like to design a "system" (see "how") that has 2 main characteristics : the first one is that it is only capable of doing something bad/illegal/reprehensible/dodgy/unorthodox/strange/incomprehensible/senseless/disgusting/etc., and "knows" it very well. The architecture of this "system" would basically allow for a single, unambiguous use of it. And this use, which would assume one of the adjectives mentioned earlier, would repeat itself over and over and over regardless of the "damage" it inflicts. Given the nature of my past work and taking into account my interests, this action could be one of two things for the moment - although in reality, many many more would be possible - (why is discussed further down) For the time being...1) the collection of data packets, following a wireless network attack 2)the collection of personal data (a picture), triggered by an unsuspecting user himself.
So, one single use which reflects the clear intention to cause damage.
The second characteristic of this "system" would be that it gives the appearance of remorse, repent or guilt (if it does really, who knows?). After performing its "bad" action, it would give the impression of perhaps feeling remorse, communicate to the offended party that it is sorry for the damage (perhaps even promise to never do it again), and then carry on repeating itself immediately.
In brief, a system that was designed purposefully to cause harm, to purposefully express remorse/demand to be excused for its actions, and deliberately repeats them in an infinite loop.
Since I have evoked the possibility of two discrete functions that my "system" could assume, we could hypothetically imagine two different forms, practically speaking. In both cases, it should be made clear what the system does. Either by revealing in the most transparent way possible the internal mechanics or the system, in such a way that renders the it self-explanatory at a simple glance. If not possible (and this might very well happen), visual cues should be provided that clearly detail the current actions under way. In the example of the picture taken, an observer could simply push a button, triggering the contraption, and without warning have this file uploaded to a public digital space, without asking any permission. This process should be clear and just as unambiguous as the machine itself. In the case of wireless attacks, there should be a clear outline of what my system is currently busy doing - if it's trying to crack a password, running a 4-way handshake against a dictionary or something else.
The second part of the system should also be communicated clearly. I can envision small speakers talking to the person targeted (which doesn't need to be present, there only needs to be somewhere there to witness the act, this ties into the "why"), asking for redemption. Since this sort of process to feel guilt and remorse is typically "human", I could imagine a somewhat "analog" metaphor to translate effectively these intentions. I believe this is where salient storytelling and well-constructed narrative come together in forming a convincing case.
Now let's imagine for a moment that this "system" already exists - let's call it "government". I certainly believe that government isn't foul in its entirety, of course I'm only addressing one facet of its policies. In many countries, government has made considerable efforts to keep the Internet as open as possible, to democratize it, to ensure the protection of its users, etc. Inversely, many countries also uses its power and reach to take advantage of technology built by industry to monitor citizens unreasonably. To increase surveillance, to single out dissidents. It does so very knowingly of the implications such actions have, yet carry on with these actions, and this is where most of the problem lies for me.
My beef is primarily with the fact that governments do this, try to pretend they aren't doing it and expect nobody to find out. Things always come around, governments then act like children, and simply start all over again.
Why recreate such a scenario in this fashion then?
- these "stories" about government regulation and surveillance generally occur very slowly and take months or years to unfold (there are generally court orders involved, public hearings, investigations, etc.). By compressing them into an accelerated form could reveal the contradictions in them more easily. It also emphasizes the recurrent nature of this type of attitude.
- from a personal point of view, I'm very much interested in the idea of "code as architecture" (Lessig), and digging into the possibilities of reverse-engineering the systems that we rely on. This includes working with the TCP/IP protocol on a low level, hacking the access points of which we take security for granted and expanding the possibilities of hardware which enables the two previous points.
- lastly, my work usually involves the construction of a narrative, and I would like to continue in this path. I think that as humans, we connect in very singular ways with stories and my interest lies more in these looping narratives than the actual substance they are made of.
- The AT&T story
- Data requests sent to Google
- How much does it cost for government to ask for these files? (40$ per account, for Cox anyways)
- Bush's wiretapping
- small camera > arduino
- wireshark captures
- tcpdump love
- fonera 2.0g (discontinued)
- WRT54G + linux
- piranha firmware by Orange
- packet types
Post-meeting with Steve
- reflexivity in conceptual art (T. deDuve= kant after duchamp)
- reflexivity in cybernetics (hayles & tomas)
- tautology in art after philosophy (kosuth)
- charles and ray eames' 'do nothing machine'
- lippard the dematerialisation of the art object= 'five years'
- B. Buchloh = 'the aestheticisation of administration'
- action= actualisation
- relfexivity - conceptual art
- "kant after Duchamp" - "Art after philosophy" - totology
- Sol Lewitt
- Bucklow - epistomology
- political reasoning - the reasoning of simulation -> no original
- self-reflectivity that creates self-validation
- something that recreates itself
For next week
- narrativize this story (make up an example)
- take pictures and show diagrams
- Lee Morgan + Bud Powell + we7.com