computer viruses – between threat and fascination
transmediale.03 shows the "I love you"- exhibition
Berlin, Feb. 1st 2003 - A major contribution to this year´s international media festival "transmediale.03" in Berlin is the exhibition organized by digitalcraft, a department of the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt (museum for applied arts, Frankfurt, Germany). "I love you - computer_viren_hacker_kultur" presents contrarian aspects and extensive information on computer viruses.
According to the BSI (German federal office for Security of Information Technology), viruses and security investments designed to hold them off cause yearly charges amounting to the triple-digit millions. The fact that viruses affect both economics and the art world was a major impulse for this exhibition. Thus, controverse positions of net artists, programmers, IT-security experts and ‘code poets’ are likewise considered and included in a debate that concerns a large part of everyday life.
In the "Haus der Kulturen der Welt" on an area of 150 square meters the exhibition creates a connection between computer viruses as causes of economic damage and inspiration for art.
Isolated terminals ("in the zoo") present a collection of some 400 active viruses; the visitor can activate viruses such as "bad boy" or "suicide" eventually causing the system to crash. Background information on the by now 30-year–old history of computer viruses and their technical development is displayed.
Furthermore, the net.artists 0100101110101101.ORG and epidemiC present their viruses "biennale.py" and "bocconi.vbs" that have been declared social art works also due to their attribute as a self-reproducing programme. Insights on hacker ethics and the aesthetical function of computer viruses are given by a selection of works by free software programmer Jaromil. Programming as an act of playful virtuosism in the means of combining form and function - are treated within the presentation of works like the flight simulator created by Carl Banks.
Another perspective taken by the show reflects upon code as a language which, apart from its technical functionality, holds a high aesthetic component. The source codes that viruses are based on allow a comparison with experimental literature of the early avantgarde: Baudelaire or Apollinaire up to modern poets such as Ernst Jandl and the contemporary "Code Poets".
In order to approach the economic and social aspects of the viral phenomenon and its explosiveness, digitalcraft invited Trend Micro, the experts in internet security systems and anti-virus software, to participate in the exhibition.
The "I love you" exhibition featured by the transmediale.03 is an expansion of the premiere that took place at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt in June 2002. The exhibition has been realized by the digitalcraft-team under the direction of Franziska Nori. The exhibition is supported by Trend Micro.