Remote Install – Installation of Software Art as Software Art Installation

Posted July 10th, 2013 under Computer Art, Contemporary Art, Digital Art, Installations, New Zealand

Remote Install - Installation of Software Art as Software Art Installation
Julian Oliver from New Zealand is known for his whistleblowing Transparency Grenade and other projects that made him one of the hottest artists running around in Berlin right now. He already won a Golden Nica at Prix Ars Electronica 2011 for the media manipulation project Newstweek.

Oliver’s work shows how man is already trapped in a media technology environment that can’t be controlled anymore. With his latest work, an installation that installs itself, Julian Oliver takes us further down the rabbit hole to provide a glimpse of the ugly future ahead.

A remote install in the media-arts world refers to the artist not being physically present at the gallery during the installation process. Rather, they send a link to download the software and work with a local team to set it up on hardware already provided.

Remote Install is a work of network-dependent Software Art that presents its own installation process as an artefact in itself.

Distributed as a stripped down, customised GNU/Linux Operating System, the gallery merely needs to copy a single file onto a USB stick, plug it into a computer on site and boot it on the day of the opening. Remote Install then analyses its network context and the amount of space given to it – the free space on the USB stick. It then logs into the artist’s server and creates a file of random binary data to exactly fill this space and proceeds to download it over the course of the entire exhibition. An algorithm ensures the last byte is downloaded on the last second of the exhibition.

Devices on the gallery network that use too much bandwidth are knocked off the network by the script, as they are a threat to the installation process. Detailed statistics relating to the process appear in several regions in the output, including a list of all the routers between the gallery and the artist’s server on the Internet.

Process Breakdown

Start up during exhibition opening
Ask for IP from local network
Request name of Curator, Assistant Curator and Exhibition and exhibition close date
Determine amount of available space given to the artist (disk space)
Send a network packet to with this value on a predetermined port
Server generates a file matching this size of random data
Download file throughout exhibition, ensuring that the process completes on last second of closing date
Attack network hosts that threaten the process, bumping them off the network (wireless mode only).

Remote Install ISO (customised GNU/Linux distribution)
A 288Mb ISO can be downloaded here. Full source code is to be found therein. Naturally the process for generating files of random data is blocked until there is an exhibition in which the project features. As such, Remote Install will not function. Nonetheless the code is provided for study.

-> Remote Install ISO (288Mb)