"In the context of omnipresent telecommunications surveillance, “The Pirate Cinema” makes visible the invisible activity and the geographic implications of peer-to-peer file sharing. The project is presented as a control room, which instantly reflects P2P exchanges happening in real time on networks, which use BitTorrent protocol. The installation produces an improvised and syncopated arrangement of files currently in exchange. The immediacy of the presentation of digital data, including fragmented information about source files and their destinations, depicts the topology of digital information use and the global reach of data dissemination."
Having seen the installation firsthand, I can attest to its mesmerizing quality, somewhere between the experience of flipping channels -- surrendering a certain amount of control as a viewer, unable to choose what came next -- and scrolling through a website like Tumblr, moving quickly between snippets of diverse content. Watching media -- predominantly American television, pornography, and music videos -- travel quickly across the globe, very often through networks that never required a file to pass through the United States, was a fascinating way to think about sharing of media and the ways that online media feels utterly divorced from its real-world origins and history of circulation once it gets to us. Who are these "peers" with whom we enter into contractual, anonymous agreements about sharing media?
It seems that the official website for the installation is still live: http://thepiratecinema.com/ if anyone is interested.
I think this piece raises a lot of interesting questions not only about rights and surveillance, but about the ways that the Web both is and is not a community, the ways that dominant discourses reproduce themselves across national borders and the ways that the Web can undermine those borders, and equally, what it might mean to think about the Internet as art, as performance, as a site of resistance, and as a form of the televisual. I'd love to hear what you guys think of it!