Interview for CONT3XT.NET/Furtherfield magazine (Uk)
about Amazon Noir
Franz Thalmair: Crime, thievery, betrayal, the bad and the good guys and a final showdown with the blistering sun. Amazon Noir refers to 1940s and 50s film noir and crime fiction in its title, narration and visualisation. Why did you settle your newest project in this genre and who are the good guys, honestly?
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PAOLO CIRIO (PC): The hype against piracy that comes from media propaganda focuses on the criminalisation of downloading and sharing content under copyright. However, the main controversial consequence of sharing content under copyright is that big businesses economically exploit devices playing MP3 and DviX. So we wanted to be the worst guys of the scene: we have staged a big crime and in the end betrayed ourselves by making a fictional deal with the enemy. The narrative also represents the ambiguity over copyright issues, where it seems that amoral and ethical laws are broken for the sake of the market, and not for the freedom of information.
FT: Despite all the storytelling, Amazon Noir is a socio-technical piece of art. What is the coding background of the "sophisticated robot-perversion-technology" abusing Amazon‘s Search-Inside-the-Book feature? Did you select books according to certain criteria?
PC: The background of our robot-perversion-technology was a system of four servers around the globe, each with a specific function: one in the USA for a faster sucking of books, one in Russia for the injection of books into P2P networks and two in Europe for the scheduling of the action with intelligent robots. The main goal was to steal all 150,000 books of the Amazon.com's Search-Inside-the-Book feature, and then use the same technology to steal books from the Google-Print Service. It was relative to the number of clusters of robots we could afford to use. Therefore, we should invest money in order to improve our project.
FT: According to a press release from the Edith Russ Haus, Amazon Noir is based upon the tradition of happenings and seen as a performative media event, which includes the reaction of conventional media in its concept. Are there already any reactions from Amazon.com or any other part of the show: media, press, lawyers? What kind of responses did you expect?
PC: Yeah, in the evolution of the net-art projects of historic groups like RtMark, CriticalArtEnsemble (CAE), ElectronicDisturbanceTheatre, we are the synthesis of the best elements of their core style. In our show we engage different actors: the audience, media, art and the legal system. Every layer of our complex society is part of the scenography, because now happenings should be staged in the anthropological space of our contemporary culture. I like the term "digital resistance“ from the CAE: "The aim of The Living Theatre to break the boundaries of its traditional architecture was successful. It collapsed the art and life distinction, which has been of tremendous help by establishing one of the first recombinant stages."
FT: Copyright/left, GNU, Creative Commons, All Rights Reversed - The discussions about the actual restrictions of the copyright are multifaceted and emanate from many different points of view. Where do you - as artists, writers, producers of intellectual, non-material goods - see the most striking clash between intellectual property and commodities in their original meaning as industrial property?
PC: A concrete example is when the books materialise into printed copy through Print-on-Demand technology will be distributed in public spaces of poor countries. When a common good has been given to people for free or for a cheap price, the whole of society grows. Every day we see the rampant privatisation of commons, as soon as people become more poor and ignorant. The latest movements of CC, Wikipedia, P2P free networks, etc. are a much needed resistance in a world where the use of cultural content is ever less a right and ever more a business.