Jon Lackman, art historian and writer, tells the story of RDS, Random Darknet Shopper, a bot created by the Swiss artists Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo, known as !Mediengruppe Bitnik. RDS is a piece of software that can operate nearly autonomously, blindly selecting an item costing less than $100 from an online black market, then paying for it from its own Bitcoin account, and having the item shipped to the address of the gallery or museum in which RDS resides at the moment. Its story began in September 2014, in an art gallery in St. Gallen, Switzerland, when it first bought a “Fire brigade master-keys set”. Since then it has bought many illegal items, such as counterfeit brand clothes, drugs, passport scans or credit card numbers. The shopping has been exhibited in the gallery and some paradoxical problems were raised when the police sequestered the Ecstasy pills. Is it illegal for a bot to randomly buy illegal items? And what happens when a vendor knows what (or who) RDS is?
Jon Lackman: Random Darknet Shopper
Series edited by Janez Janša
Publisher: Aksioma – Institiute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana
Represented by: Marcela Okretič
Design: Luka Umek
Layout: Sonja Grdina
Cover and pp. 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 24
Photo courtesy: !Mediengruppe Bitnik
Photo: Florian Bachmann, Kunst Halle St. Gallen, 2015
pp. 4, 16-17
Photo courtesy: Gunnar Meier, Kunst Halle St. Gallen, 2014
Photo courtesy: Horatio Junior London, 2016
(c) Aksioma | Text and image copyrights by authors | Ljubljana 2016
Printed and distributed by: Lulu.com
In the framework of Masters & Servers
Supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, the Municipality of Ljubljana and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication 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.