Opening at Filodrammatica Gallery (Korzo 28/1, Rijeka) on Thursday, March 7th, at 20:00, Critical Engineering exhibition presents three artworks by internationally acclaimed artists Julian Oliver, Danja Vasiliev, Bengt Sjölén and Gordan Savičić, also known as The Critical Engineering Working Group.
In the form of a condom-vending machine, Vending Private Network offers the user with the efficient protection on internet; Packetbridge tries to confuse the devices reliant on the wireless internet connection infrastructure, while Unintended Emissions captures and shows radio emissions unintentionally and invisibly shared by our portable wireless devices. Read more about the works below!
The exhibition arrives to Rijeka in the framework of State Machines, a joint project by Aksioma (SI), Drugo more (HR), Furtherfield (UK), Institute of Network Cultures (NL) and NeMe (CY), investigating the new relationships between states, citizens and the stateless made possible by emerging technologies.
The exibition remains on view until March 22nd, working days from 5 to 8 pm. If you wish to arrange another time of your visit, feel free to contact us by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
According to THE CRITICAL ENGINEERING MANIFESTO, the Critical Engineer considers Engineering to be the most transformative language of our time, shaping the way we move, communicate and think. It is the work of the Critical Engineer to study and exploit this language, exposing its influence.
The Critical Engineer considers any technology depended upon to be both a challenge and a threat. The greater the dependence on a technology the greater the need to study and expose its inner workings, regardless of ownership or legal provision.
The Critical Engineer raises awareness that with each technological advance our techno-political literacy is challenged. The Critical Engineer deconstructs and incites suspicion of rich user experiences.
The Critical Engineer looks beyond the ‘awe of implementation’ to determine methods of influence and their specific effects.
The Critical Engineer recognises that each work of engineering engineers its user, proportional to that user’s dependency upon it.
The Critical Engineer expands ‘machine’ to describe interrelationships encompassing devices, bodies, agents, forces and networks. The Critical Engineer observes the space between the production and consumption of technology. Acting rapidly to changes in this space, the Critical Engineer serves to expose moments of imbalance and deception.
The Critical Engineer looks to the history of art, architecture, activism, philosophy and invention and finds exemplary works of Critical Engineering. Strategies, ideas and agendas from these disciplines will be adopted, re-purposed and deployed.
The Critical Engineer notes that written code expands into social and psychological realms, regulating behavior between people and the machines they interact with. By understanding this, the Critical Engineer seeks to reconstruct user-constraints and social action through means of digital excavation.
The Critical Engineer considers the exploit to be the most desirable form of exposure.
VENDING PRIVATE NETWORK
Julian Oliver & Danja Vasiliev
Vending Private Network at Transnationalisms exhibition at Furtherfield Gallery, London, 2018
Photo: Guillaume Querard
Vending Private Network takes the form of a condom-vending machine, such as those typically seen in public toilets, nightclubs and bars. Equipped with mechanical buttons, a coin-slot and USB ports, it offers four VPN routes, each with an animated graphic depicting the route as a fantasy destination.
Visitors are invited to insert a USB stick into the slot, a coin (1 pound or euro) into the machine, and to select a VPN destination by pressing a mechanical button. In doing so, a unique VPN configuration file is then written to the USB stick. Special instructions (in the form of a README.txt) are also copied, explaining how to use the VPN in a special “sheathed” mode that evades detection methods (namely Deep Packet Inspection, or DPI) used by corporations and state-controlled infrastructure administrators. This is the only means known to work against state-controlled firewalls.
For the full experience of this work, “part” of which you can take with you and actually use it for the sake of your online protection, we suggest you to bring a USB stick and 1 euro (or pound) coin when visiting the exhibition!
A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Applications running across a VPN may therefore benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network.
The project was selected as the new art commission of The State Machines Open Call among over 100 submissions from around the world. Artists were invited to consider how might the digital subjects of today become active, engaged, and effective digital citizens of tomorrow, to reflect on increasing governmental and corporate surveillance, and the contradictions between the technical cultures of globalisation, that nevertheless does little to slow the construction of physical borders.
Bengt Sjölén & Gordan Savičić
Packetbridge (Packetbrücke) explores the simulation of entire network situations by transferring the electromagnetic infrastructure to a different physical space. The result is a revealing “confusion” of devices and services reliant on this infrastructure. Wireless network packets are directly captured from a specific location and tunnelled through the internet to a remote location, where they are released back into the air. In doing so, Packetbridge literally injects one electromagnetic representation of geographical space into another, effectively producing a new imaginary topography and, through this remediation, an “impossible reality”. Packetbridge demonstrates that positioning systems based on WLAN are a site for intervention, at the same time expressing their vulnerability to location spoofing attacks.
Bengt Sjölén & Danja Vasiliev
Unintended Emissions in Montreal, 2015
Photo: art_inthecity (Flickr)
Inserted into urban environs, Unintended Emissions captures, dissects, maps and projects radio emissions unintentionally and invisibly shared by our portable wireless devices.
Employing two arrays of directional Yagi antennas, the project attempts to determine positions of WiFi devices in the vicinity. Similarly to surveillance and tracking systems such as StingRay, Unintended Emissionsplaces mobile WiFi users on to a map indicating the kind of a device a user has, the time of appearance, the user’s network activity and other user-specific metadata. This information can be further analysed to determine the user’s identity and movements within a locality and the internet.
Using methods and technologies known to be deployed by federal surveillance initiatives, the intervention seeks to engender a “healthy paranoia” in the interests of an increased techno-political subjectivity.
About the artists:
Julian Oliver is a New Zealander, Critical Engineer and artist based in Berlin. His work and lectures have been presented at many museums, galleries, international electronic-art events and conferences, including Tate Modern, Ars Electronica, transmediale and the Japan Media Arts Festival. He has received several awards, most notably the distinguished Golden Nica at Prix Ars Electronica 2011 for the project Newstweek (with Daniil Vasiliev). He is the co-author of the Critical Engineering Manifesto and co-founder of Crypto Party in Berlin. Julian has given numerous workshops and master classes in software art, data forensics, creative hacking, computer networking, counter-surveillance, object-oriented programming for artists, augmented reality, virtual architecture, video-game development, information visualisation and UNIX/Linux worldwide. Articles about his work have appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, Wired, Der Spiegel, El Pais and Liberation, among others, and on several TV channels worldwide including the BBC.
Gordan Savičić, born in Vienna, is a Swiss-based artist and designer whose work investigates the relationship between people, networks and interfaces. He has a background in media art and visual communication and has been active within the fields of academic research, teaching and the design industry. Savičić holds a BA in Digital Art and New Media from the University of Applied Arts Vienna and an MA from the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. His participation in collaborative projects and performances have been shown in several countries and received various awards, such as Japan (dis-locate), Germany (transmediale), Austria (Ars Electronica) and Spain (Arco), among others.
Based in Stockholm and Berlin, Bengt Sjölén is an independent software and hardware designer, hacker and artist with roots in the home computer demo scene. He collaborates with several networks, including Weise7 in Berlin, Teenage Engineering in Stockholm, and aether architecture in Budapest. His current and continuous experimentation spans the programmatic generation of design, function, hardware and code, electromagnetic investigations, networking technologies, reverse engineering, molecular life science, architecture, visualisations and visuals, sound and self-modifying code.
Danja Vasiliev is a Berlin-based, Russian artist and Critical Engineer. He studies systems and networks through anti-disciplinary experimentation with hardware, firmware and software. Using computational platforms, he engages in the examination and exploitation of system and network paradigms in both the physical and digital realms. Based on these findings, he creates and exhibits works of Critical Engineering.
Since 1999, Vasiliev has been involved in computer-technology events, media-art exhibitions and seminars around the world. He has received several awards and mentions at Ars Electronica, Japan Media Art Festival and transmediale, among others.
In October 2011, together with Julian Oliver and Gordan Savičić, he co-authored the “Critical Engineering Manifesto”. He gives public workshops and talks as well as regularly teaches courses on network insecurity, software/OS modification, hardware re-engineering, digital forensics and other technology related subjects.