The Aesthetics of Computer Viruses - I love you [rev.eng] (fwd)

From: Vintage Computer Festival <>
Date: Mon Sep 6 02:57:01 2004

I thought this might be interesting to some...

Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger      
[ Old computing resources for business || Buy/Sell/Trade Vintage Computers   ]
[ and academia at  || at  ]
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 2004 11:17:47 +0200
From: Alessandro Ludovico <>
Subject: The Aesthetics of Computer Viruses - I love you [rev.eng]
I love you [rev.eng]
The Aesthetics of Computer Viruses. German Exhibition on International Tour
Providence (USA) / Copenhagen: The return of
"Made in Germany" - "I love you [rev.eng]"
(rev.eng = reverse engineering), the extension of
the successful exhibition in Frankfurt devoted to
the phenomenon of computer viruses, is going on
an international tour. It can be seen from
September 11th to October 4th at the renowned
private Brown University in Providence, Rhode
Island, USA, and then from October 7th to
November 14th in the Museum for Communication in
Copenhagen, Denmark.
Nowadays computer viruses are an integral part of
our computerised everyday life. The damage to
national economies caused by the more than 90,000
viruses that have already appeared worldwide runs
into many billions. The independent US research
institute Computer Economics puts the damage in
the case of "I love you" in 2001 alone at 8.75
billion US $. But not all computer viruses are
harmful. Computer viruses can also result from
experimentation with (programming) language. "I
love you [rev.eng]" is the first exhibition
worldwide dedicated to the phenomena of computer
security and computer viruses, and takes up both
these aspects to carry out a controversial
experiment with contemporary culture that goes
far beyond current vehement debates on hacking.
"I love you [rev.eng]" is divided into political,
technical and historical areas of investigation
and focuses on the controversial positions of
security experts and hackers, of net artists and
programmers, of literature experts and code
poets. What actually is a computer virus? Who
creates them, and why? What sort of world is
hiding behind these everyday phenomena? The
exhibition provides background information,
presents artworks, and reveals the role of
computer viruses as a destructive force and
economic threat as well as an inspiration for
creative art. "I love you [rev.eng]" is conceived
and presented by the cultural organisation based in Frankfurt, Germany.
" sees itself as a future
oriented model for a changing understanding of
cultural communication," says Franziska Nori, the
leader of the team. "The big
question being raised by the exhibition as to
what digital culture is today and will become in
the age of the information society doesn't only
determine contemporary artistic and cultural
production, but is also intended to motivate
cultural institutions to rethink their practice
and their own role."
What can visitors to the "I love you [rev.eng]" exhibition expect?
- Computer viruses in close-up. At isolated
terminals ("in the zoo"), visitors can activate
infected data with viruses like "Sasser" or
"Suicide" and force computers to close down. A
presentation of the 30 year history of computer
viruses and their technical development offers
background information on the development of this
phenomenon right up to the present day.
- Virus outbreaks in real time. An interactive 3D
game world has been developed specially for the
exhibition to allow visitors, by operating a
joystick, to experience in real time the
otherwise invisible processes involved in a
global virus outbreak. Visitors can also click
together their own viruses using a computer with
so called virus construction kits like the ones
often used by budding hackers to flood the
Internet with evernew viruses.
- The web artists 0100101110101101.ORG and
epidemiC present the computer virus
"", which, over and above being a
self-reproducing program, has been declared as a
social work of art. The work "The Lovers" by the
British artist Sneha Solankis creates, using two
mutually-infected computers, an analogy between
the distorted communication between the computers
and that between lovers. '"I love you" [?but do
you know what love really means?]' by the artist
Caleb Waldorf is an
  installation video montage reflecting how media
represents the phenomenon of viruses and how
governments and corporate entities react to the
increasing threat of cyber terrorism.
  - Insights into the heterogeneous culture of
hackers with a broad spectrum of film material
created in the scene itself, including "Freedom
Downtime" by the New York hacker community 2600,
and "Hippies from Hell". Historical and current
material provide insights into the development of
the scene from its origins in the late 50s, when
the term "hacker" was a neutral word for students
at the MIT who lived out their fascination for
logical tasks and enthusiasm for understanding
the new computers, to the criminalisation of what
is now known as the VX Scene, to the
commercialisation of the phenomenon, supplemented
by a wealth of interviews in which various virus
authors talk about their motives.
- The aesthetics of the source code. Apart from
its pure functionality, a program code (which
computer viruses are based on, just like any
other computer program) can also be an aesthetic
and artistic creation. "Obfuscated C Codes" are
examples of such highly virtuoso programming. The
exhibition presents two exceptional contributions
from the "International Obfuscated C Code
Contest" that has been held regularly since 1984,
the three-dimensional flight simulator by C.
Banks (1998) and the Saitou.c Code by Don Yang
(2000), a program with a graphic layout that
generates a set of mutually reproducing programs.
- Program code as language. Here, comparisons are
drawn between traditional poetry and contemporary
code poetry. The unbroken line from the Carmina
Figurata of antiquity and the Middle Ages via the
concrete poetry of the 19th Century to modern
poets and contemporary code poets show a
coherence of form that reveals the source code as
a new material for contemporary poetry.
- Internet security. Security concepts and
current methods for preventing global attacks on
the network are presented for an interested
Through a collaboration with experts at Brown
University's Watson Institute for International
Studies and researchers from Symantec - the
market leader in internet security - further delved into the
political, economic and social actuality of this
subject. At both locations, the exhibition will
be complemented by symposiums, in the USA with
the theme "The Power and Pathology of Networks".
The cultural organisation is
taking up with this project the challenge of
exploring complex virtual phenomena and
presenting them in a visual way. "I love you
[rev.eng]" (rev.eng = reverse engineering) is the
revamped and expanded version of the initial
exhibition which was successfully shown in June
2002 in the Museum for Applied Art in Frankfurt
and in February 2003 at the "transmediale.03" in
Further information on all exhibits, the digital
version of the exhibition catalogue and extensive
pictorial material can be found on the project's
website (+ press
section) or direct from:
Dr. Gabriele Reinartz
  PR and communication
  Phone: +49 (0)171 / 8 34 56 48
  Fax: +49 (0)69 / 48 00 61 32
Brief profile of was founded in 2003 as a
spin-off of the "digitalcraft" section of the
Museum for Applied Art in Frankfurt am Main
(2000-2003). Its mission is to research and
document fast-moving trends in everyday digital
culture and to present them to the public. Since
2003, has been an independent
cultural organization under the direction of
Franziska Nori. Its work includes
interdisciplinary exhibition projects such as
"adonnaM.mp3" (2003) on the phenomenon of file
sharing, "Origami Digital" (2003) on the digital
demo scene, public lectures and publications, and
consultancies for public institutions and
museums. The subjects it explores reflect the
rapid development in communications technologies
and methods and their significance for modern
Brief profile of the Watson Institute for International Studies
Brown University in Rhode Island is one of the
most renowned private Universities in the USA.
One of its associated institutes is the Watson
Institute for International Studies, named after
its founder, which is dedicated to
interdisciplinary studies. Under the direction of
Prof. James Der Derian, the "Information
Technology, War and Peace Project" has been
started up to make a targeted analysis of the
potential impacts of network structures in the
globalised society. In September,
"InfoTechWarPeace", a new, one-year research
project, is starting up with the heading, "The
Power and Pathology of Net-works". The central
matters it will be dealing with involve analysis
of the questions: What new forms of global
security and governance are needed to manage the
potential, allocate the resources, and reduce the
risks of networks? How do we assess the dangers
of global interconnectivity (networked terrorism,
computer viruses, pandemics) against the vaunted
benefits (increased transparency, higher
productivity, global interdependence)? The
research project will be inaugurated with a
symposium and the "I love you [rev.eng]"
Alessandro Ludovico - daily updated news + reviews -
Neural printed magazine -
Received on Mon Sep 06 2004 - 02:57:01 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Oct 10 2014 - 23:37:27 BST