Archive for the ‘press’ Category
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The USB Manicure Puts Data at Your Fingertips –— Oct 1 2016 –>
DOMENICO QUARANTA: Oh, When the Internet Breaks at Some Point
“Walked out this morning / Don’t believe what I saw / A hundred billion bottles / Washed up on the shore / Seems I’m not alone at being alone / A hundred billion castaways / Looking for a home” The Police, “Message in a Bottle”, 1979
Back in October 2010, German artist Aram Bartholl cemented 5 USB flash drives in various locations in New York, as part of an Eyebeam residency.  Referring to the way, in espionage, items are passed between two individuals using a secret location and without an actual meeting, he called the project Dead Drops. The first five dead drops were empty, except for a small readme file explaining the project. A dedicated website was set up, featuring a video tutorial and a simple “how to” and inviting people to participate in the project.
In interviews, Bartholl explained that at the beginning he was just fascinated by the power of an image: a small data container plugged in the wall, in public space, and a person trying to access it with her own device. He invited people to participate by dropping files in and taking files out, installing their own dead drop and sending the GPS coordinates to Bartholl. As in many collaborative projects, he wasn’t particularly confident about people’s participation, and he believed that the project was conceptually strong enough even in the shape of a small, five-nodes network. But people liked the idea, and as I’m typing on my keyboard today, the online database features almost 1500 registered dead drops for a total storage space of 9891 gigabytes. I installed my own a while ago and I’ve noticed some others along the years, and I’ve always been fascinated by the precariousness of these tiny, rusty artifacts. I’ve never seen anybody plugging in, and probably most of them are almost empty, or out of work. But they are, still, extremely powerful as an image.
Message in a Bottle
“A Dead Drop is a naked piece of passively powered Universal Serial Bus technology embedded into the city, the only true public space. In an era of growing clouds and fancy new devices without access to local files we need to rethink the freedom and distribution of data. The Dead Drops movement is on its way for change! Free your data to the public domain in cement! Make your own Dead Drop now! Un-cloud your files today!!!” Aram Bartholl, “The Dead Drops Manifesto”, 2010 
The dead drops network emerged in an age that saw a major shift in the general perception of the internet as a public space. Widespread Wi-Fi access, the massive adoption of social networking sites, and the advent of smartphones made people start to think about the internet as a new public space, with no physical boundaries and infrastructure, where data can be shared and taken easily and seamlessly. The metaphor of the cloud, already used in the Nineties to describe the internet, became more and more popular in the late 2000s, when cloud computing emerged – further reinforcing the idea of an immaterial public space and eroding the difference between public and private, local and shared. As Annet Dekker wrote in 2008:
In the past two months there has been again a lot of international press about DeadDrops. The DeadDrops project is running since November 2010, for four and a half years now. After the initial press buzz in 2010/11 the project kept spreading online with occasional press like after the Snowden releases etc. But just since the beginning of 2015 there was a lot of press all over again. It is really hard to tell how such a press wave is starting on a project which is already running for such a while but I assume after almost 5 years there is a new generation of Internet users and press people who haven’t heard about DeadDrops yet. Through some big blogs in the US it reached the south american news, spreaded there and also made it back to Europe. I ve listed a selection of press links at the end of this post. Please also see the nice DeadDrops youtube playlist somebody made.
In Germany the recent reports about DeadDrops had a special twist. End of February the yellow press style news paper Kölner Express had a piece about a bomb making plan PDF which was supposedly found on a DeadDrop in Cologne. The local and national press picked up quickly the story and my phone kept ringing for two weeks. It is astonishing how in 2015 you still have to explain to people that it is of course not a problem to find such a PDF with illegal tutorials on the Internet. Or yes! there could be a virus on the USB drive, like there could be a virus in this blog post. But in an era of constant fear about terror the suspicious USB drive in wall was a perfect story for them. I was only waiting for the ISIS connection. But again this was a good opportunity to explain that there is no use in censoring or prohibiting encryption or anonymous communication technologies because there is illegal activities. Like back in the days the ruling class tried to banish the brand new dangerous technology ‘book printing’ which radicalized all the young people. Especially journalists should be aware how important independent, encrypted, private communication is. In fact DeadDrops is not a very efficient communication technology but a good symbol on independent, open digital communication. So while the NSA has trojans installed on all our hard drives or access to millions of sim card keys we worry about a 20 year old anarchist cook book PDF on a flash drive in a wall in cologne. What a crazy world! :))
The actual great story about the Cologne DeadDrop is that this specific DeadDrop, which I made myself as part of a duo show with JODI at DAM Cologne in 2011, was still existing and working in 2015!! Until the police ripped it out and broke it to then hand it in at the at the LKA cyber security department to get it fixed. Of course the highlight is how the two police men are kneeling in front of the yellow banana (the gallery “certificate”) trying to understand what’s going on. In fact later the Kriminalpolizei called DAM gallery to have them explain what exactly this USB stick is about and what the DeadDrops project is etc. On the same day I made this popular tweet about the whole story.
Of course I am very happy about all the attention for DeadDrops. It is very interesting to witness how the perspective on such a project has changed over the past five years, especially since 2013. I am glad to see how this project is still going on and how it has inspired so many people over the years. Thanks to all the deaddroppers out there!! You are awesome!!
Aram Bartholl, March 2015
Full Interview at Sueddeutsche.de:
More press links:
— Aram Bartholl (@arambartholl) 24. Februar 2015
Dominique von Burg, “The Darknet – From Memes to Onionland. An Exploration.” Kunstforum Nr. 229, Seite 286, 2014
Review of Hurt me plenty on Motherboard Vice http://motherboard.vice.com/read/hurt-me-plenty
by Doug Berend
Kritisches Lexikon der Gegenwartskunst
Aram Bartholl, 12 pages, 8 pages colored folded cover.
Erscheint viermal jährlich mit insgesamt
28 Künstlermonografien auf über 500 Text-
und Bildseiten und kostet im Jahresabonnement
Hurt me plenty
Exhibition: 13th September – 1st November 2014
DAM Gallery, Berlin
7:30: Introduction by Olia Lialina, Professorin New Media at the Merz Akademie Stuttgart.
In his solo show Aram Bartholl exhibits a new series of works inspired by the questions and developments engaging humankind’s ‘entry’ into the digital realm and the role of the first person as ‘shooter’. Bartholl deconstructs stereotypes about pixel imaging with unique large-scale works that are subtly combined with a series of pieces about issues of privacy, surveillance and net neutrality. With this exhibition, Bartholl proposes a new discourse that challenges the current debates about surveillance versus the seemingly antiquated ideas and images of ‘cyberspace’.
- Hurt me plenty – opening speech by Olia Lialina
- press release DAM gallery, by Tina Sauerländer PDF (PDF deutsch)
- aqnb.com “Aram Bartholl, Hurt me plenty (2014)” by Jean Kay
- makezine.com ‘A First-Person Tour of Aram Bartholl’s First-Person Shooter Art Exhibition’ by Andrew Salomone
- Breitband Deutschlandradio, ‘Vorsicht Ironie’ by Moritz Metz (mp3, at 20:13 min)
- kotaku.com ‘Yes, Even Duke Nukem Is Art‘ by Luke Plunkett
Nr. 176 | Samstag, 2. August 2014
Der international agierende Künstler Aram Bartholl erklärt im Interview, weshalb er gerne digitale Symbole nachbaut und in die reale
Welt stellt. Er ist der Ansicht, dass man sich durchaus mal die Frage stellen sollte, was man den ganzen Tag am Computer macht.
thx @ Ricarda Stiller!