public sphere


in Zusammenarbeit mit Gideon May, Thomas Rehaag

Kunstverein Hamburg 2000

Aussendienst und Kulturbehörde Hamburg

kr: connective force attack-open way to public (Pressetext), dt

Giaco Schiesser: Connectivity, Heterogeneity and Distortions

'How to crack it!' was the information and encouragement the computer magazine PC Online offered to readers in issue 10/2000, followed by precise instructions on how to take part in the boldly announced scheme: 'The CD supplied with this issue contains the brute force attack software you need to participate to crack the password. After installing the program, dial into the Internet, where you can start to attack the Hamburg server and join the hot action.' Behind the journalistic hype lies xxxxx connective force attack: open way to the public (, realized in collaboration with the Hamburg Kunstverein and the Hamburg Subway (HHA),

xxxxx connective force attack: open way to the public is an urban system of action designed for working through the various conditions and potentials of a mediatized public domain. The project addresses the issues of insecure data networks, paranoia about hackers, privacy, electronic . The project foresaw the mass distribution of free software that would invite Internet users to join forces in cracking ('brute force attack') an Internet server in Hamburg in order to infiltrate the city's public information system 'Infoscreen'. Three times daily via mobile and ISDN networks, the information entered by the trespassers was to be transferred uncensored to the screens of the some thousand monitors installed in Hamburg's tube trains. Hacking and the controversies surrounding privacy, the public domain and data security would have been brought closer - metaphorically and literally - to some 800,000 passengers a week. It foresaw the deployment of 'brute force attacks' based on algorithmic data-descrambling strategies in order to gain access to an Internet server.

The software allows participants to get together in a chat environment and so heighten the efficiency of the attacks. The goal is to infiltrate an information medium and/or territory, to allocate a new password to a purpose-created, password-protected area and occupy it with new content - until the next group cracks the password, alters it, and either adds its own comments to the preceding group's content, or else deletes it or overwrite it. The available quantity of time and computer power decides whether, how and when a group succeeds in cracking a password. In other words, a brute force attack's chance of success is directly dependent on the connective efficiency - the number of people who use the Internet to channel and join up their PCs to form a distributed, shared unit of action. Any new content generated is simultaneously displayed in a public location without being censored, namely on the large-scale data display in the 'Jungfernsteig' station, where it remains visible round-the-clock.