snafu on Wed, 30 May 2001 23:03:27 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> opensources and pull the plug opensources and pull the plug.
Snafu interviews Florian Cramer
Bologna, Digital is not analog, 27-5-2001

There was a strange smell of explosive powder in the air, last week in 
Bologna. Digital is not analog, the festival of, hacktivism, 
reverse engeneering, fueled a warm atmosphere of recognition amongst 
godfathers of plagiarism such as Negativland and a new generation of 
pranksters and simulation's cowboy, such as Rtmark, Surveillance Camera 
Players, and

The powders were fired  last thursday by the exciting performance, in 
Piazza Maggiore, of Alexei's Shulgin 386DX, ended up with a 
decontextualized pogo. The crew got hotter and hotter over the weekend 
until saturday night when a performative march took place in front of the 
survaillance cameras around the center of Bologna. After that an house 
party terminated with fridge divings, plastic glove-toes country dancing 
and other amazing, unpredictable stuff.

But who played the role of the actual plagiarist, during the conference, 
was Florian Cramer. The teacher of Comparate Literature of the  Freie 
Universität in Berlin revealed a prank that he has been playing for two 
months under the distracted eyes of the community. In this lapse of 
time, none apparently noticed that to the famous's 
website has been recently placed side by side a slightly different domain:

This domain, registered by Florian Cramer, swaps a 0 with a 1 mimicking 
very well the original domain. So well, that nobody noticed that the 
opensourced recursive splash page of Rhizome wasn't signed by the original, but by the fake by Florian Cramer.

In the following interview Florian Cramer explains how did it come to this 

Florian Cramer: In March 2001, there was a discussion in the Nettime
mailing list about the historification of, whether
has become historified and become a commodity. Instead of engaging
in that discussion, I just registered a domain which is a sequence of
zeros and ones very similar to the well-known zeros and ones website,
just with a little twist in one 0 and one 1. On various
mailing list, I posted a self-interview of my fictitious zero one
group which I contributed to Amy Alexander's "Interview Yourself"
project <>. Nobody
noticed the difference in the digits, as nobody noticed the
difference in the rhetoric. There is an essay by Sarah Thompson on
the life_sharing project of the original zero one project which
refers to that interview and cites both URLs next to each other
<>. As mentioned in
the interview, I created a website with a piece called "dates", a
somewhat tongue-in-cheekish display of the Net artist's names linked
to the names of women and men the fictitious zero one group had sex
with <>. Both the interview
and the blueprint of "dates" was taken from a 1986 Neoist text which
itself was parody of postmodern art and its self-marketing rhetoric
<>. It worked
perfectly for even fifteen years later. I just had to change a
few names and terms. My prank continued for almost two months. Nobody
recognized the difference except mi_ga on the rohrpost mailing list and
of course the Bolognese zero ones who took it with great humor. The prank
was, I hope, in tune with them anyway. I think it became more difficult
for them to be subversive within since they themselves became a
recognized brand in So it was time to shake this up a bit. In
an interview with Tilman Baumgärtel, the 01 project called upon people
to recuperate them, and that's what I did.
Snafu: Since you registered the domain, you received several e-mails from
people believing you were the real 01. So, a simple twist of the code,
produced a chain of human reactions...
FC: It was very interesting for me to see that the little twist of the
zero and one had a social impact. I received invitations for festivals,
I got fan mail by well-known people in the community. Everyone
believed I was the 01 they knew. People seemed to care less about what
I was doing than whom I seemed to be. I was simply using an established
brand and pseudo-subversive rhetoric, and they liked it. Nobody checked
the facts or got suspicious. If "dates" and "opensourcing"
would not have had the 01 label, but unknown signaturw, I doubt
anyone would have cared about them. This tells of course about the
institutionalization, self-gratification and self-historification in
this community which the original 01 project addressed as well. There
were other social impacts that were lots of fun as well. Some artists
from England approached me for what Neoists used to call "grant
sucking". They applied for a grant to spend it making summer vacation
in Italy and asked me to write them a formal invitation. Of course I
did, and now I wonder what will happen when they turn up in Bologna.
It's fun and interesting to mix up social situations and experience how
you can manipulate interpersonal relations by E-Mail. And it's nice to
expose this game in a city that invented the Luther Blissett project
where many people wore the same name and created confusion with that.
Q: Don't you think that this confusion is also related to the fact
that people don't really pay attention to what they read? With all
the information overload, people are no longer able to notice slight
FC: I have an interest in not making things that can be straightforwardly
identified (even if stating this is a contradiction in itself). I have
to correct my previous statements insofar as the fake 01 website does
not simply boil down to parody. Many people say they still like the 01
self-interview as just what it pretends to be, even though they know that
it's fake. And the idea of the iterative HTML sourcecode has transgressed
the prank level to a point where I am afraid that the 01 Net.artist
identity actually plays a prank on me and turns me into something else! At
the festival, I tried to inject confusion into the audience by speaking
for ten minutes about bit rot as a modern type of permutation which,
opposed to permutations in the Kabbalah and 17th century encyclopedism,
doesn't increase but decrease information. To a large extent, that was
intended to be crap talk just to see if people would swallow it like the
fake 01 announcements in the mailing lists, which they mostly did. On the
other hand, it wasn't all crap, since I'm interested in how code relates
to literature, writing, but also to information architectures as a matter
of fact. The Internet and the operating systems we use is an architecture
built from writing. The 01 prank of course demonstrates this as well

S: What is the difference between an unintentional error, like the error
of the machine, and a chosen, a provoked error? Is it possible to talk
about aesthetic, social or machinic implications of such an error?
FC: For me the interesting thing is the cultural impact of such an
error. In the case of the 01 website, the error itself was a social
one. It happened in the mind of the people reading E-Mails. I'm surprised
that it worked so well. It's also telling, by the way, of how people
rely on their software, just clicking URL in E-Mail programs like Outlook
instead of using their browser bookmarks.

S: Don't you think that this kind of game risks to be very
self-referential in a way? Is it clear and understandable within a
specific community, but it's not played in a broader arena, like Rtmark
or other people seem to do.
FC: First of all you can't be subversive withouth being subversive
to yourself, that's very important. You miss something crucial if you
think subversion means to have clearly defined enemies and act against
them. The enemy always is always you, too and in the first place. That's
a lesson I learned from Neoism. So I think it's very important to keep
oneself alert, to remain smart and not to fall into ritual behaviors
of gratifying yourself and nodding to anything that comes from your own
community. Sometimes you have to stir it up and play little pranks against
yourself. Also I must say I'm not a Net.artist. It was a non-artist
intervention, assuming the identity of a Net.artist. Since I am not
interested in stabilizing this identity, it is time to pull the plug.

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