Monday, September 24, 2007

″Dark Source″

In March of 2005 ″Making Things Public″ opened at ZKM. The curator, Bruno Latour, pulled together innovative art works by media specialists, video producers, sculptors and sound engineers in order to create a multi-disciplinary, multi-media installation that insisted on the visitor to ″experience, in a new way, the presence of political matters.″ Many of the works included within the exhibition explore the instances of representation - both artistic and political - that occur in contemporary public space.

The picture of the installation above is from Ben Rubins ″Dark Source″ project - a kind of informational sculpture - that interrogates the political practice of electronic voting and the technologies that enable such activity. I wanted to post about this project for two reasons.

1. ″Dark Source″ deals with the source codes that make electronic voting possible -- source codes that are kept private because of copy-right issues. In ″Dark Source″, Ben Rubin dramatizes this problematic political situation by displaying lines of code that have been systematically erased. As Ben Rubin writes ″What is on display, then, is not the forbidden source code, but rather the state of affairs in which we find ourselves today, one in which the critical infrastructure of democracy in the United States is becoming privately owned, and being private, is also being made secret.″ The political and social issues this piece so provocatively raises correlates nicesly with Galloways writings on protocol and control in de-centralized societies. ″Dark Source″ raises the questions -- how is political representation based (and subsequently restricted) by the technologies that facilitate public action? what are the political consequences of privately owned source codes?

2. But perhaps more importantly, i refer to Ben Rubins art because i think it in many ways represents an alternative to the somewhat lame ″resistance by silence″ paradigm presented by Galloway. I think art like Ben Rubins spectacularizes certain political realities in a way that insists on reform - or at least on public awareness.

im interest in bringing art into the picture -- however cumbersome and problematic it might be - to regard it as a force that might ameliorate some of the issues of restraint or control raised by Galloway.

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