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IO_dencies (Knowbotic Research), 1997

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technology on many different levels. Some only create curiosity and wonder (the first level of familiarity); others clearly aim at audience participation or even education. All of these works deal with the public domain as a virtual, mediated space consisting of both material and immaterial matter.» [16]

Mark Lewis argues in «Public Interest» that in any of these public systems, despite the rhetoric of censorship, «today in the west there is nothing that cannot be said, nothing, that is, that when released (as everything eventually is) can in any way mitigate an assumption of liberation, revolution or victory.» [17] Increasingly, however, private contractual agreements are subverting the public domain of expression. The artist group Knowbotic Research, whose «IO_dencies»(1997) was one of the earliest and most significant projects exploring the real effects of virtual flows on the urban public sphere, refers to the concept of the «legal bug» to describe this phenomenon of the privatization of rights. In their case, they were prevented from presenting a legal project, «Minds of Concern,» (2002) because the Internet service provider for the exhibiting museum did


not allow in its terms of service contract the particular use of the Internet that Knowbotic Research was exploiting. This is a specific example of what Lawrence Lessig has argued more generally is the increasing usurpation of representative law making through code and its attendant web of contractual relations. Code is law. [18]

In the face of both the privatization of the public sphere and government curtailment, often on security grounds, a number of artists are leveraging the network to monitor the monitors. Ryan McKinley’s «Government Information Awareness,» [19] for instance, was a distributed platform linking various publicly available databases and constituent input to create a knowledge base about U.S. government officials that mirrors, at least metaphorically, the government’s renamed versions of its Total Information Awareness program. Swipe’s performances also perform data-mining to present detailed data profiler to users based simply on reading the magnetic stripes on their drivers’ licenses. [20] Heath Bunting and Kayle Brandon’s «The Status Project» [21] looks at how people can utilize a database of Do-It-Yourself

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