Reading Response 3 – Lindsey Luckevich

After Nikeplatz, 0100101110101101.org said that businesses like Nike are machines, an “intangible entity” dependent on people’s perception of it. Isn’t it noble to fight the machines? I’d like to address this question with an anecdote. I know a guy, a hacker going by the name Defiant, who spent 9 months in a federal penitentiary after hacking the website of the largest cable provider in the US, Comcast. Excerpt from a Wired article explaining what happened:

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Like most Americans, I hate Comcast, and I can definitely support vandalizing their webspace. I support this kind of humour, and I think the hack is interesting to think about as an art intervention. Inflicting juvenile internet humour on an evil corporation like Comcast makes good use of the hacking medium. Hacking is typically done under a pseudonym, and does not necessarily reveal its motivation. “It must hide its ideology, or be so violent that its ideology is unclear” (32).

I tell this story to say while I respect this hack, I can’t see myself undertaking anything similar. Granted, these actions were criminal, but that’s just a matter of jurisdiction. I could comment critically on Comcast without actually imposing a threat on their business and feel comfortable about it, but I’m not sure I’d be comfortable if I really impacted them, which is a terrible thing to realize, honestly.

Websites are site specific if they are designed with consideration to the environment of the internet. The online atmosphere and the nature of networked communications create a new, highly specific public audience: the mass of people logged in. Really, if a website is designed to be a website it is a site specific installation. If the website is duplicated, archived or cached, it is no longer site specific because it does not have the same context as the original. Benjamin says reproduction doesn’t destroy the aura of a piece, it just diminishes it because we cannot perceive the original’s unique place in time and space. Groys says “the aura of a digital file is the consequence of its own invisibility” (158) and this aura is sacrificed when the file is viewed and can only be regained when given a presence, an exhibition space, a URL. Quaranta says a website can be describe as an installation because it locates a series of fragments in a specific, unique space. Bits of data are stored and assembled to create a specific work in a specific place. This work, on the web, is auratic because of its location.

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