Shooting for the gap

A timeline of global protests since 1979.

For a while… before I really knew anything, or had thought about it properly, I was of the opinion that if laws were made that impinged upon the freedom of Art, then Art would deliberately create things that were explorations of what was only just legal… things that broke the spirit, but not the letter of the law. Or vice-versa. The gap between the spirit and the letter of the law is where art plays.

Art who’s responsibility it is to wake people from the dream, must remain distinct from the dream.

So… this is a bunch of stuff revolving around that. The Gap.

1) The New Weathermen


This is an art piece rather than an actual thing… it’s an exploration of bio-punk. DIY Bio used for maximum disruption, revolving around a manifesto

  • Parasitic behaviour will not be tolerated. Their actions target people, corporations and practices that use and abuse of nature for their sole benefit without ever giving anything in return (e.g. chopping down forests.)
  • There is no untouched Nature to go back to. Only forward.
  • Abort the precautionary principle. Because we can never be sure that anything is going to be 100% safe.
  • Abolish intellectual property on plants and genes by biotech corporations (such as the world’s most evil one.)
  • Conserve all species and genomes. Create as many new ones as possible.

It reminds me a bit of this nagging doubt I have about the military using “ethical machines” to do their killing etc. Probably a good idea – because atrocities are created by people losing their shit – the Stamford prison experiment inflicted on an entire nation… but if you can make ethical military machines, you can also make unethical ones… which will be made, and will be used – as punishment etc. Because protection rackets are all about being able to horrify with violence – and when the state becomes criminal (as it is rapidly becoming), then it is basically just a protection racket.

2) Patentable



This is a project where expired patents are found, and turned into digitised objects.

I’ve got a better idea – how about a site that scrapes the existing “live” patent database, and provides a mechanism where punters can offer a “bounty”… for someone to create a digitised, digital-fabbable file of the patented object. When the bounty gets high enough for it to be worthwhile, a freelancer can create the digital file(s).

This is not dissimilar to the bounty system that is being proposed for pharmaceutical research – so diseases that affect huge numbers of poor people attract the attention of R&D budgets – rather than the situation we currently have – where the resources going into R&D are dissipated and tainted by “IP”… ie: they go into high-profit drugs like viagra, 1/2 of the money is spent trying to circumvent the “IP” of other companies, data/research is not shared, and the bulk of the cost of medicine goes on marketing.

“IP” itself is a disease that cripples creative ecosystems by sitting like a tapeworm on the money supply. There are other ways of doing it.

3) Mesh Networks In Greece

The Cradle of Democracy, now the cradle of Nazism 1.05 – It’s tempting to say “Nazism 2.0”, but what the Greek Nazis are doing isn’t 2.0 – it’s a pathetically predictable throwback.

Anyway – Mesh Networks have been springing up in Greece… they’re faster (a lot faster) than telecom-provided networks, and are free of the corporatist/NSA-led evils that have been attacking the wider internet. I have this vague suspicion that the future of the web will not be single computers attached to one giant network, so much as single devices playing in sub-networks which may or may not be attached to one giant network. I mean if every switch/chip in your house has an IP address (and that seems increasingly likely), then there’s really no good reason they should be accessible to the web at large. It’d be good to have remote access I guess…and aggregation of huge amounts of data can be really useful, but really – it’s none of anyone else’s business.

And that’s aside from the benefits of private local communication that aren’t spied on by our increasingly oppresive and criminal governments.

So I’m suspecting we’re going to see a rebirth of the intranet. It’s similar to the 1/2 century long ebb and flow between mainframe/thin-client and local info-power-house.

“The Cloud” is every inch a mainframe system – and it’s the wet dream of authoritarians. When I worked for Ernst and Young in the mid 1990s they used a system called “sabre”, which basically ran desktop machines as thin clients – the end-user and no control of their own machines. Then all the partners started using laptops, and it all went out the window. “The Cloud” is sold to us as a convenience, but really it’s about control. And know what? Fuck control.

I live in a small town – out in the suburbs. From here I can see 3 other wifi connections. At the cafe I hang out in in town, I can see about 20. If there was a natural (or more likely, unnatural) disaster, we could really, really do with a local mesh-network… and we’ve got one, but we’ve crippled it. It’s an evolved lunacy.

Mind you, the solution probably isn’t going to be some sort of “share part of your bandwidth” deal. It’s likely to be some appliance based on something like this:

Which is an arduino with (very) strong encryption and a 1km communication range… combined with something like this


Which is a laser-cut, DIY cellphone

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if something turned up that teenagers started using, to be under the radar of adults… once they twig that a smartphone is basically a nanny-in-your-pocket.

On that subject, Apple have just patented the capability of allowing “authorities” to disable all cellphones in a given area. Here’s the picture


I’ve been warning about Apple for years. This sort of thing is utterly inevitable. The surprise is not that “potential” tech-authoritarianism gets abused, but how fast it gets abused.

Any politician that seeks to censor the internet automatically signals their illegitimacy and must be removed from office. No election required. Censoring the internet should be regarded the same way as trying to organise a military coup or assassinate political rivals.

There’s a report on a “censor the internet conference” here – which without a hint of irony, talks about “Eurasia”. Lest we forget, in the 20th C, governments rounded up and murdered 120 million of their own citizens. The worst offenders were Russia and China… who are the superpowers behind this conference. Also in attendance are various brutal crackpot dictatorships, including Uzbekistan(?) where the British Ambassador was forced to resign because he whistle-blew on the state boiling people alive.

We should give absolutely zero quarter to politicians and organsiations in our own countries attempting to move in the same direction. Meantime, we need to build systems that render their efforts to contain “unauthorised” information moot.

To that end, I think we need to work on language.

Something that immediately struck me about this thing from Julian Assange

Is the phrase “Corruption of Purpose”. He uses this phrase describe the global disease affecting democracies “Politicians are supposed to represent citizens, they say whatever the hell it takes to get elected, and then they represent the interests of powerful elites”. There’s something about fitting it into “a name”, that gives it a kind of power. I know “To name something is to have done with it”, but it also kindof wraps it up as “a truth”.

I think we need to be permanently in the process of creating names… creating the names that are used to describe the info-wars.

4) But back to art:


A skull made entirely out of cocaine.

Art playing the gap between the spirit and the letter of the law. A “commissioned piece”… though there is virtually nowhere on the planet where you could do that legally. Reminds me of Damien Hurst’s diamond skull


… which also plays in the gaps, given that although he was claiming it was worth $100,000,000, actually appears not to have sold, and in reality might just have been a really expensive publicity stunt – although not that expensive, as diamonds and platinum have intrinsic value that doesn’t deteriorate over time. Blood diamonds? Blood cocaine? who knows. Bad idea. I just know I’d eventually find myself (morning knifing through the curtains) looking at a room full of debris, and the realisation that sometime in the last 24 hours, I’d snorted my own skull.

The truth is though, that art plays in the gap at the edge of reality… and if reality is proscribed by law, art will bee-line to it, almost as a matter of definition. Almost algorithmally – that’s what it’s for. Art Rock is louder than Metal. Experience trumps doctrine.