Re: No power without brain....
ricardo dominguez <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Fri, 27 Aug 1999 16:14:42 -0400
[: hacktivism :]
Steven White wrote:
> [: hacktivism :]
> On Fri, 27 Aug 1999, Mike wrote:
> > Creating disruption through CD and ECD has a function: it garners attention.
> > Attention garners interest and interest has the potential to bring about
> > constructive change.
> I'mn not simply trying to fan a flame war, but how does dumping data into
> an error log of a web server garner attention? Who will see it? How can
> anyone even verify that the work was accomplished? AFAIK it isn't
> possible to get a dump of an web server error log unless you have access
> to the directory that it lives in on the computer running the web server.
> So beyond being able to say you did it, what purpose does this specific
> action serve to garner attention?
> > I would agree that constructive change is necessary. Providing alternatives
> > is powerful. But there is also much value in creating interest in an issue.
> > There are many roles that need to be filled in order for something to get
> > done on a large scale.
> Yes, there is a place for ECD but only the instances where public display
> of their work is possible.
[Well I again I think the net_activist communities forget that the Zapatitista
FloodNet was created by network_artist and not hackers or activist. And
as far as getting a great deal of attention for the Zapatistas we have
accomplished that task: Check out current PunkPlanet magazine,
or next month in SPIN, a few more i cant remember,
as well as a number of Art Journals in Europe
will dealing with Zapatismo this fall season. Yes this action has not
changed the structure of neo-liberalism...but now a larger public that
had never heard of anything this...is reading about.
As for uploading the names of the dead into error logs lacking
activist force. Again the purpose was to develop our work within
a history of conceptual art via Beuys and Duchamp. Here is a good
statemet on that trajectory.]
The Zapatista Tactical FloodNet
A collabortive, activist and conceptual art work of the net
by Brett Stalbaum
Tactical FloodNet's automated features are used:
1) To reload a targeted web page several times per minute.
2) For the conceptual-artistic spamming of targeted server error logs.
The web site of an institution or symbol of Mexican neo-liberalism is targeted
on a particular day. A link to FloodNet is then posted in a public call for
participation in the tactical strike. Netsurfers follow this link; then by
simply leaving their browser open the FloodNet Applet will automatically
reload the target web page every few seconds. The intent is to disrupt access
to the targeted web site by flooding the host server with requests for that
As FloodNet performs automatic reloads of the site in the background,
slowing or halting access to the targeted server, FloodNet
also encourages interaction on the part of individual protesters.
Netsurfers may voice their political concerns on a targeted server
via the “personal message” form which sends the
surfer's own statement to the server error log.
Additionally, a mouse click on the applet image (
containing a representation of the targeted site), sends
a predefined message to the server error log. In the current version of
FloodNet, this process is automated as well.
FloodNet as Conceptual Art
FloodNet is an example of conceptual net.art
that empowers people through artistic expression. By the selection
of phases for use in building the "bad" urls , for example using
"human_rights" to form the url "http://www.xxx.gb.mx/human_rights",
the FloodNet is able to upload messages to server error logs
by intentionally asking for a non-existent url. This
causes the server to return messages like “human_rights not found on this
server.” This works because of the way many http servers process requests
for web pages that do not exist. FloodNet's Java applet asks the targeted server
for a directory called, in this example, "human_rights", but since that
directory doesn't exist, the server returns the familiar “File not Found” or
“Error 404” message, recording the bad request. This is a unique way to
leave a message on that server.
Past versions of the FloodNet have tuned this idea to
current events, such as during the June 10 protest
when the names of the Zapatista farmers killed by
the Mexican Army in military attacks on the autonomous
village of El Bosque, were used in the construction of
the "bad" urls. In an artistic sense, this is a way
of remembering and honoring those who gave
their lives in defense of their freedom. In a
conceptual sense, the FloodNet performance was able to
facilitate a symbolic return of the dead to the servers
of those responsible for their murders.
“Only art history still knows that the famed geniuses of the Renaissance did
not just create paintings and buildings, but calculated fortresses and
constructed war machines. If the phantasm of all Information Warfare, to
reduce war to software and its forms of death to operating system crashes,
were to come true, lonesome hackers would take the place of the historic
Taking the place of “historic artist-engineers” only becomes possible if we
focus on genius as a emergent quality of human-machinic networks (the
cybernetic as distributed collective) . “Lonesome hackers”, is somewhat
misleading in the context of fine artists working on software weapons, if only
because it unfortunately indexes all of modernism’s notions of troubled
genius, without qualifying it in the context of the conflation of biological
life into the consciousness prosthetic of the network. The Zaps FloodNet
hopefully serves as a counter example to this notion of individualist genius,
because, as media art, it has emerged from and serves a community which
genuinely requires the development of such attention weapons as a matter
As an alternative to the re-emergence of the artist as the lonely hacker, we
could in turn seek an ontological status for artist as "true" defensive worker
in the network era. But the destructive implementation of “Defense” as
euphemism for war (as in the name change in the United States from the
“Department of War” to the “Department of Defense”), long ago erased the
distinction between defensive and offensive capabilities once evident in the
various designs of fortresses and war machines. The cryptanalytical
foundation secrecy, correctly identified as the foundation of
contemporary information processes, is simultaneously
defensive and offensive under this implosion.
Can the fortress be reinstantiated?
It seems that the reconstruction of the fortress as a
somehow useful strategy is no less misguided and
romantic than the reinstantiation of the Renaissance
artist figure as a cryptanalytical war engineer. If
anything, the cryptanalytical accomplishments of
the past two centuries have soundly defeated the
wall as a defensive mechanism; not only by blurring the
distinction between defense and offence (as in Ronald
Reagan’s star wars imaginary), but by simply
rendering walls and other manifestations of
As such, fortifications and secrecy are a kind of trap
for information artists for many reasons. Information
is ephemeral, becoming stale quickly, leaving it
as one of the most perishable of tactical tools.
Additionally, most artists do not have the capital to
compete with the information warfare apparatus of
corporations and governments. And of course, no
one really cares about an artist’s secrets in any case!
It is better to not have secrets, because to do
so is to pretend walls of comfort around us
which no longer exist. More importantly, it reduces
the amount of friction the info-artist must face:
secrecy requires little work if we are little concerned
with it. It is better to take public actions which
call attention to dangerous situations for real
people. Artists as communications engineers,
working in groups to design the next generation
of networked communications pulse-weapon, will allow still
larger groups to leverage their numbers in tactical
performances of presence;
these are the goals of non-violent inforwar.
The Zaps FloodNet represents just such a
collective weapon of presence. Designed as
a collectively actuated weapon, inverting
the logic of wide open propaganda pipes
by flooding network connections with millions
of hits from widely distributed, fully participatory
nodes, the FloodNet enables a performance of
presence which says to Mexico (and its close ally the United
States): "We are numerous, alert, and watching
carefully." After the initial design, the roles played
by communications artists are best described as only
the initial low-dimensional attractors upon which the
critical tertiary projection of similarity in the dynamic
net-system of cybernetics is articulated. This is not
only evident in user participation with the FloodNet
performances, but in other similarly directed mass
actions. Instead of the return of the Renaissance
artist/engineer or the sedentary seclusion of the
fortress, we seek instead the self-organization of
of good conscious, visibility, and presence.
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