maandag 9 april 2007

An Interview with Hans Bernhard, about Amazon Noir

For DEAF07, I did some research on Amazon Noir, a project by Ubermorgen.com (Hans Bernhard and Livlx), Paolo Cirio, and Alessandro Ludovenco. I emailed them with some questions and I yet had to post the answers. It's very interesting how I interpreted the project as something political and critical, while Hans Bernhard looks at it as research!
Many thanks to Hans for taking time to answer my emailed questions!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

27 March 2007.

dear tineke

sorry sorry for the delay.. its just too much at the moment.. i hope your
presentation went well.. sorry to come afterwards..

Am 22.03.2007 um 13:40 schrieb Tineke Pauw:

Dear Hans, Paolo, Alessandro, and Lizvlx,

Vera has given me your emailadresses, so I could contact you about the Amazon Noir project for the DEAF festival. Thank you for giving me the chance to ask you some questions. Amazon Noir a very interesting artwork, that, from my new media-student-perspective, is especially engaging in thinking about copyright and copyleft. But the longer I thought about the artwork and its meaning, the more questions I got. So, my apologies in advance for asking so many questions! This weekend, I will give a short, but in-depth, presentation on your work for my fellow students and graduates who'll work during the DEAF festival, and I will do my best to tell as much as I can about your work! I hope you can help me along.


Okay, here we go:

1. The title of your work is Amazon Noir, which reminds me of the film genre "film noir". Why did you decide to tell your story in a way that can be compared to this genre? And why did you give yourselves the role of "bad guys" in the story, while you could also be heroes, liberating knowledge from the "evil" conglomerate Amazon? If the visitors empathize with you (and my guess is that most of them will), they might consider you heroes. J

yes, but in the film noir the gangsters are the heroes, the bad guys,
the bad private investigators, the corrupt cops, they are the real heroes.

we wanted to combine film with internet actionism, and film noir
was the best classical genre to use. its also nice to think about
Amazon Noir with the action genre, or as a love story..

2. You say that "Amazon Noir was
scripted as an auto-generated internet-movie.". What do you mean with that? Did you actually film your actions?

no, this is a metaphor.
but actually we made a script (story-board) of the action to plot it
and to know how to tell the story and what to do when.

3. About the presented work itself: I read on your website that it is called a book incubator. I see that as a controlled surrounding in which the growth of a product (in this case, a book, or the book as a medium) is controlled. Could you tell me more about the installation itself and its meaning?

you should ask alessandro ludovico or paolo cirio about this,
they are more into the incubator (you can meet them in rotterdam)
or email them again and ask them..

You also make use of overhead projectors. Why did you decide to work with that medium? Do you also include your website www.amazon-noir.com (which looks like an artwork on itself) in the installation?

sometimes the web-site is part of the exhibition, but ususally it
is seperated because a web-site is designed to be viewed at
home, in front of a computer, which is a totally different setting
to an exhibition white cube situation.

The theme of DEAF07 is "interact or die!". In what ways is your art installation interactive? Can visitors do something with it? (besides making them think about concepts like copyright and copyleft ;)

During the action, users could enter keywords, book titles or authors
and then the machine would download these books, otherwise, most
important is that machines interact with each other in Amazon Noir,
so our software robots work with Amazon.com software and the suck
books from there and then amazon reacts and fights against our robots
and then we update our rrobots again, etc.. etc..

4. About the pdfs of the hacked books you share online: they aren't complete books. On several pages there are parts missing. Does this have to do with the court settlement with Amazon (I'll ask about that later on) or does it have to do with the technology you used to hack Amazon's database? Were the robots not able to find all words?

its the technology, sometimes the robots could not complete the books,
because its a very complicated process to suck down full books and recompile
them..

5. About the hack itself: I couldn't find any media coverage on Amazon's legal actions, but I did find some comments from people wondering whether this happened for real. So, did the hack really happen? I can always try. ;)

yes and no, since many years we work in the media hacking area and
in the beginning we produced pure fake actions such as Vote-auction
http://www.vote-auction.net. then we moved over to actually realize
projects, so yes, Amazon Noir is real... the hack happend and the software
was sold to amazon..

6. Even if you can't openly answer the previous question: perhaps it isn't important whether this happened for real or not. This installation and the website are made to make people think about copyright, the way knowledge is "locked away" from people who don't or can't pay for it. At least, that's how I think of it. Are there also other meanings to your work that I might have overlooked?

its non-political, non-ideological by intent. so the interpretations might
be highly political or the reception, but the intention is purer research:
what can be done within technical and media networks when we tell
such a story and produce such software and hack..

7. I find it interesting that in the story of Amazon Noir, technology is used for bad and for good (and whether something is bad or good depends on your point of view). While Amazon uses technology to lock books away, she also gives people a view. And on the other hand hackers use technology to free the books and their knowledge and cultural meanings. What are your opinions on the use of technology for sharing or locking away knowledge? And how important is the use of technology in your artworks?

technology is a key component in our artworks, but not necessarily in
their represenation in museums, galleries, exhibitions or in the media.

8. I also read a comparison of your actions with the use of open source software. It made me wonder: is your work meant to pose questions (and criticize) the current system, or do you also propose another, better system?

no, i dont. i dont care. i am a researcher and artist.

What are your opinions on the use of the open source software concept on books? Should books be for free? Should books perhaps be like open source software, as continuing works in progress with multiple authors?

yes. books could be free, . like music and movies and
other artworks

And does this imply that you think that authors of books should provide their works for free? Or do you see distributors, like Amazon, as the ones that should be criticized?

i dont know. i dont have a solution or idea ready for these problems.

Well, that's it so far. Again, sorry that I posed so many questions. Though you might consider it a compliment that the installation and the website made me think about so many things. ;) I hope you have time to look them through and give answers (and perhaps you feel like telling more about the work, feel free to do so), so I can enlighten the other students about this subject this weekend! :)

thanks for your questions. you are very deep into the project and thats
nice to see, so sorry again for the delay and maybe lizvlx, alessandro
and paolo might drop you a note with some more infos..

ciao
hans-

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2 opmerkingen:

Autoestima de Cucaracha zei

Hi,

I dropped in your blog looking for some information about the Amazon Noir project, and the interview was a big help for me.

Thanks for posting it!

Tineke zei

Hi,

You're welcome. I'm glad to be of help. :)

Greets,
Tineke.