In the essay "The Work of Artists in a Databased Society: net.art as on-line activism," I discuss two forms of on-line resistance as executed through two artist projects that use the networked database structure as a tool for social contestation.
First, TO INFORM: Brooke Singer exposes her own electronic data to enlighten a general public of one's freely available data. Second, TO SUBVERT: iSEE, a collaborative project between the Institute for Applied Autonomy and the Surveillance Camera Players makes use of the database structure to subvert the monitoring of the public sphere.
An excerpt from the essay's introduction states that: If we accept Walter Benjamin's statement that property and possession belong to the tactical sphere, the computer age in conjunction with our networked reality have introduced a new tactical sphere - - the marketplace of information. At the heart of this sphere is the database, the warehouse of information.
Each public sphere is part of a civil domain that is governed by a set of laws and policies. Therefore, just as any civil, public space, the Internet must have its own set of policies that mirror those of our physical space. Amongst the on-line policies and regulations currently being established are decisions pertaining to appropriate policing and monitoring of cyber space, and determining the boundaries of privacy in a networked society.
The questions surrounding on-line privacy are complex and encompass a wide number of issues such as ownership, which in itself introduces a chain of other questions. It is impossible to present an answer to these involved questions as they will continue to arise. However, I do contend that unless non-governing independent groups protect the Internet as a space for independent production, dissemination and open discourse, the radical potential of the Internet will be consumed, largely through its very nature. Therefore, if there exists today an artist avant-garde, looking to merge art with daily social life, it is the growing number of socially active artist engaged in cyber resistance as a critical practice in which the network and the database represent tools for engagement.
For conference presentation or publication please me. The essay was published in the March 2002 issue of the magazine Afterimage.
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links to projects:
Brooke Singer's SPV2: http://www.bsing.net/
Institute for Applies Autonomy, iSEE: http://www.appliedautonomy.com/