In recent years, piracy and peer-to-peer file sharing of audio-visual contents have become a massive activity involving millions of internet users, and one of the main ways in which cinema is experienced at home. This does not only raise obvious copyright and legal issues, and not only floods us with poor, downgraded versions of the hi-quality original but also potentially challenges cinema’s materiality and the idea of a movie as a linear narrative.
The Peer-to-Peer Sharing protocol is based on small samples file fragmentation. This fragmentation smoothes the exchange between different recipients: when all the “chunks” have been downloaded, the file can then be reconstructed sample by sample until completion, from chaotic scraps received from distinct users. This hidden architecture reveals extraordinary narrative implications, automatizing and randomizing the remix processes widely used in art since the Avant-gardes.
The Pirate Cinema takes off from here to make the hidden activity and geography of Peer-to-Peer file sharing visible. The project is presented as a monitoring room, which shows Peer-to-Peer transfers happening in real time on networks using the BitTorrent protocol. The installation produces an arbitrary cut-up of the files currently being exchanged. This immediate and fragmentary rendering of online activity, with information concerning its source and destination, thus depicts the topology of digital media consumption and uncontrolled content dissemination in a connected world.
The Pirate Cinema is based on a data interception software. It reveals, through a simple diversion, different aspects of exchange platforms, such as the global and multi-situated nature of Peer-to-Peer networks (P2P), the potential for viral transmission, and alternative social models. Its purpose is to make available for aesthetic exploration the pre-existing potentials of Peer-to-Peer architectures. The installation of The Pirate Cinema relies on an automated system that constantly monitors the most viewed torrents. The intercepted data is immediately projected onto a screen, after which it is discarded. The 3 screens installation at Aksioma project space visualizes fragmentary files received and sent all over the world.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Nicolas Maigret exposes the internal workings of media, through an exploration of their dysfunctions, limitations or failure thresholds which he develops sensory and immersive audio visual experiences. As a curator, he initiated the disnovation.net research, a critique of the innovation propaganda. He teaches at Parsons Paris and co-founded the Art of Failure collective in 2006.
His work has been presented in international exhibitions and festivals: transmediale (Berlin) - File (Sao Paulo) - Museum of Art and Design (New York) - 30th Chaos Communication Congress (Hamburg) - NWFF (Seattle) - SAIC (Chicago) - China Museum of Digital Arts (Beijing) - The Pirate Bay 10th Anniversary (Stockholm) - Palais de Tokyo (Paris) - Eastern Bloc (Montreal) - Gli.tc/h (Birmingham)...
The Pirate Cinema a presentation by Nicolas Maigret
As a portrait of the network in real-time, Pirate Cinema somewhat reflects the temporal complexity of the world now in the coming together of different co-existing ways of being in time. In the talk Geoff Cox wants to suggest that Pirate Cinema might allow us to better understand the dynamics of networked technologies and some of the defining conditions of globalization that underpin the cultural logic of our times.
The lecture is based on Geoff Cox essay, which was commissioned for the Aksioma's new series of brochures PostScriptUM.
Geoff Cox (UK) is Associate Professor in the Dept. of Aesthetics and Communication, and Participatory IT Research Centre, Aarhus University (DK), and Adjunct faculty Transart Institute (DE/US). His research interests lie in the areas of contemporary art and performance, software studies and network culture. He is an editor for the DATA Browser book series (published by Autonomedia). With Alex McLean, he wrote Speaking Code: coding as aesthetic and political expression (MIT Press 2012).
The official release of the co-commission will happen in Hull (UK) during the conference Digital Utopias, an Arts Council initiative curated by Abandon Normal Devices as a trailblazer event for Hull City of Culture 2017.
At Link Cabinet the artist presents a custom version of the online piece that focuses on the Metallica versus Napster case of the early 2000’s: the first law suit that involved artists suing a peer-to-peer file sharing software company that caused the eventual shut down of Napster. The audio streaming is based on the monitoring of users currently sharing Metallica albums.
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