Constant Dullaart: The Censored Internet
Freedom of expression and the possibility to effectively turn censorship into a thing of the past has been, in the early days of the internet, one of its most seducing promises. The way its infrastructure was built, together with the seamless copyability of digital data, nurtured the techno-utopia of a world in which information could circulate globally without any restriction.
Yet, the way this infrastructure evolved and fell under the control of big corporations open to make agreements with governments in order to bring their services to an increasing number of users, turned this techno-utopia into a dystopian reality in which censorship seems as ubiquitous as data. Reporters Without Borders (RWB) – a France-based international non-profit, non-governmental organisation that promotes and defends freedom of information and freedom of the press – maintains a list of “enemies of the internet”, updated from time to time as local regulations are modified in the attempt to control the way we access information in the online environment.
The Censored Internet is an installation that collects all flags of the nations mentioned in the list ‘enemies of the internet’ published by advisory board to the United Nations ‘Reporters without Borders’ in a fully blackout room. The amount of national flags is based on the most recent report of ‘reporters without borders’, so it changes every time the piece is installed. Each flag has an RGB LED shining on it, consistently changing color with the other lights, changing the color of the room, and effectively the colours of the flags. The national colours resembling a country’s identity are harder to interpret and engage with.
Continuous changing colours cause a hypnotising effect in which the visitor is confronted with a reality without national borders and identities. The intervention of the light acts as a metaphor for the necessary skills needed to bypass local limitations, and envision an utopian image of global freedom to information. A vision which seems utopian and dystopian at the same time, when the same technical skills are used to oppress people’s access to information. The old hacker mantra ‘all information should be free’ gets lost in the distraction of changing ethical relationships to technology.
Credits, more information about this project and related events HERE
3 March – 10 April 2015
Aksioma | Project Space