!Mediengruppe Bitnik: Random Darknet Shopper
Emerged as a wild and open space where communication is fluent, the free exchange of content is easy and identity can be hardly tracked down behind the opacity of IP addresses and monikers, the online environment of the internet has turned, in recent years, in a place where national governments, international organizations, and companies are all involved in a titanic attempt to put this anarchist utopia under control. Of course, this doesn’t happen without conflict: activists, private citizens, other organizations and other companies are actively working to protect the “freedom of the internet” on an infrastructural level, well aware that when this infrastructure will change – for whichever good reason (protection of copyright and patents, fight against terrorism, etc.) – what we are going to lose is much more of what we are going to gain. This conflict is not anymore something that can be reductively limited to the field of technology – it’s something of which everybody should be aware, as an important side of current global politics and economics.
The rise of the so-called “darknet” is part of this process. Like peer-to-peer networks or forums allowing anonymity, darknets are not illegal – or used for illegal purposes – by default, but as free, uncontrolled spaces, they are easily demonized as dangerous, uncomfortable places the place where bad things such as terrorism, espionage, pedopornography and black markets flourish.
How can we get an impartial portrait of a place whose look changes a lot depending on the experience, the culture, the ideas, the tastes of who’s visiting it? One possible way is to set up a robot that visits it for us, according to a set of simple, predetermined rules. The Random Darknet Shopper, by Swiss artists !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo, is such kind of robot. With a wallet of 100$ in Bitcoins per week, and the task to randomly buy whatever fits in its wallet and send it to the place where the work is exhibited, the Random Darknet Shopper goes for shopping through AlphaBay, an online marketplace accessible via Tor browser, listing about 96,132 products, not all of them illegal.
Follow the bot on: https://wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.bitnik.org/r/
Credits and more information about this event HERE.
Watch the artist talk by !Mediengruppe Bitnik at Aksioma | Project Space:
24 February – 25 March 2016
Aksioma | Project Space
Curated by Aksioma
!Mediengruppe Bitnik (Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo)