!Exploit: A Hactivist Panel

Panel: !Exploit: A Hactivist Panel
Participants: Conor McGarrigle, Julian Oliver, Danja Vasiliev, Nora O’Murchu
Chair:Dmytri Kleiner
Where: Studios 1 & 2 Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin
When: 3pm – 4.30pm, Saturday 30th June

“The scope of political resistance in vital networks, then, should be the discovery of these exploits—or better yet: look for traces of exploits and you will find political practices.”
Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker

This panel brings together a number of practitioners across engineering and art to explore forms of ‘exploit’ or tactical engagement with the political structures of communications networks, governments, powerful institutions and systems. Participants will introduce various personal projects that cross the boundaries between critique, activism and speculative design including Newstweek and Namaland.

The discussion will orient itself around some of the following questions:

What do we mean when we speak about the ‘exploit’? We might think of hactivism as a practice that is not just concerned with forms of political resistance but with the projection of possible alternatives from the temporary opening that this exploit produces. How are the projects discussed examples of this?

How can the language of engineering be transformative to art and design practices and discourses (and vice versa)?

‘Hactivism’ as a term was coined in the 1990s. How has the use of digital media to critique political systems and institutions transformed over that time? We might consider on one hand what implications a growing culture of surveillance, stricter IP and DRM regimes and increasingly tiered network architectures have to the importance of hactivism as a political activity.  We could also consider the growing popularity of techno-political activities such as data scraping, and the wide availability of open source technologies and platforms to a hactivist culture.

Sometimes hactivist work is a fully functional system that engages with real world systems in an applied way. Sometimes its function is as a speculative design that provokes cultural imagination and public discussion. How does the hactivist work or system move between these applied and fictional spaces?