j bosma on Thu, 20 Mar 1997 22:33:17 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> scanner project interview heath bunting

This interview was made in march 96 and concerns a project
heath bunting proposed to make for the conference Next5Minutes,
which dealt with art, politics and tactical media. N5M, as it
is called in short, was held in januari of that year. 

You can still find information about this conference at

heath bunting:

JB: Can you tell us what you wanted to do for Next5Minutes?

hb: The big idea was to create the first section of the 
underground secret service and this would be a radio listening
post in a proposed series, covering the world, linked together
via the internet, enabling people to listen to and monitor
radiotransmissions remotely. This could be pirate transmissions,
policetransmissions or any kind of radiotransmissions. It seems
a shame that large governements and legitimate state secret 
service have their own networks and the underground always seems 
to be the victim of these. It would be quite poetic to reverse 
this, I imagine. 
Things that would be required would be a computercontrollable 
scanner, a small pc, a bit of glue software, total cost about
a thousand pounds. This would have to be installed somewhere on 
a vast network somewhere within the city. Central is better.

JB: What kind of network do you mean? I don't understand.

hb: Well, the main problem people have with getting connected to 
the internet is that they want it to their premises, at home or
their business, whereas this would only have to reside somewhere
in the city, because the radio would do the local carrying.
So for instance you could put the internetscanner in a advertising
company or so, if they allready have a fast link, so you wouldn't 
have to lay a leased line to a specific receiver. You could just 
tack it on to an existing network. 

JB: What is this glue software?

hb: Its just a piece of software that would take audio from the 
scanner, pass it through the computer, digitise it and place it 
onto the internet to people that want to receive it. Very simple 
software, it can be written in 5 minutes by experienced hackers. 

JB: But was it written? 

hb: It was half written. A collegue of mine who was enthusiastic 
about the project set to work straight away, in visual basic, on 
his pc.

JB: And why wasn't it finished?

hb: We ran out of time, because it was christmas, and nobody works 
at christmas. Also money. It was suggested to me we could run an 
entire local radiostation for a year on such a budget. But I think 
we could probably obtain the equipment. 

JB: But wouldn't it be so that only one listener at the time could
control the tuner?

hb: Only one could control, but many could listen. As I said it 
would be a kind of elite underground listening post, and hopefully 
many would grow around the world, so people would have their choice. 
If one was occupied they could listen somewhere else. Its not really 
for entertainment, its more strategic. 

JB: You could tune into any bandwidth you would want to as well?

hb: Yes, it would be good to have a scanner that would cover all 
the spectrum. We don't really want to dictate whether people should 
listen to piratemusic or whether they should listen to military 
broadcasts or cellular phones, whatever.

JB: This can not be a serious threat to the governement can it?
Is it a joke?

hb: It is a serious threat to be able to operate in the same media 
as repressive organisations. 

JB: It is just a serious threat because you are present, which you 
weren't before?

hb: It is a serious threat because you can demonstrate that you 
understand how they operate and that either by action or just by
word you can reverse or reflect their own ideology. For instance,
slightly different to radio, most of my international mail is
opened. Specifically when it comes from Japan it is very carefully 
opened and the aperture is made very delicately and reinforced with
cellotape for the insertion of a videocamera. So I was thinking it
might be nice to make a whole series of envelopes with prelubricated
apertures, clearly marked for the assistance of the secret service.
It would just say: "Please inspect contents here", for instance.
I like to imagine peoples experience of these projects. 
So, if you can imagine somebody who's job it is every day to cut open  
an envelope, reinforce it with cellotape and then pass it on to their
superior who will inspect it, can you imagine the first person going
to the superior saying: "Oh, this one's allready been done! And its
got instructions on it." 
I think that would be quite funny.

JB: So you're just teasing them actually.

hb: Seducing. Those two people will know that somebody is playing a 
game with them. And hopefully it will awaken them a little more to
what they are doing. Make them think.

JB: Are you an idealist?

hb: No, I am not an idealist. Maybe a poly-idealist (laughing).
No, ideals always end in violence and I don't like violence very
much. It makes me scared. 


JB: The remote scanner might still be developed. 
    Time and money required.


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