Ping Melody: ideological undercurrent

A part of ideological undercurrent of Ping Melody is using the existing technological infrastructure, which originates in military applications, like a prototype of contemporary Internet created in DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) for diffused, nuclear attacks proof, the command of US Army, especially for agency called NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command). NORAD was a word that was associated predominately with the Cold War. The eyes and ears of NORAD were focused on aerospace threats that may come from sources far away from the shores of Canada and the United States). Reworked after Cold War DARPA network has become, a still used, core of planetary-range medium, and a lot of software tools for testing and controlling of networks was created or extended by DARPA, too (e.g. a few early versions of Unix "ping" command).

During performance I'm scanning military servers very frequently, but also parts of the code used in Ping Melody was ripped from the software written by programmers and researchers of DARPA. That software was created as a modern kind of weapon, because DARPA is the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense. It manages and directs selected basic and applied R&D projects for DoD, and pursues research and technology where risk and payoff are both very high and where success may provide dramatic advances for traditional military roles and missions. My job (and joke) was to reverse and revitalize this military tool for more humanitarian usage (in accordance to Jaron Lanier observation, about musical instruments, which are technological phenomenon, because: In most historical eras, and in most cultures, musical instruments have been among the most advanced technological devices produced, often edging ahead of weapons in sophistication. [How music will save the soul of technology, Media Art Biennale WRO '97 catalogue]).

The visual component with reference to military tactical maps and operational schemes, showing routes of data packages and servers like trajectories of ballistic, long-range and guided missile rockets, transporting war-heads (implicitly nuclear, chemical and biological weapons).As well, I'm interested in one special attribute of global communication environment as crucial element of decisive structures (governments, administrations, managements, etc.), viz: distinctive for many technocratic cultures, transition of decisions concerning actions against individuals or groups, threating the status quo of community, into collective, legal, automatic or algorithmic (ones). What will be explained hereafter, the threating factors may be located inside of groups, provided by control institutions. Therefore acts of victimization targeted formally to the destabilizing factors may, in real, be forms of defense-strategies taken by decisive structures standing in awe of losing established position. Because algorithmic, automatic procedures are causing notion of impartiality, their use is a safe camouflage to hide authentic, especially selfish, motives of ongoing activities. In short: it's the archetype of "rising of the machines" placed into social and political context: automatized entities, created for public welfare, are starting a warfare against their creators.

The allude to NORAD may be a good example of that process. Early NORAD was founded as agency for monitoring and protecting the airspace of Alaska, Canada and the contiguous 48 United States. Until the Sept. 11, 2001, NORAD's official focus was almost exclusively fixed on threats coming toward the Canadian and American borders, not on terrorism inside domestic airspace. Because of that day, NORAD's focus has been increased to domestic airspace. Currently, the highly skilled personnel of NORAD uses powerful, cutting-edge tracking technologies: ground-based radar, airborne radar, satellites, fighter aircraft, proven command structures and intelligence capabilities to enforce control of the skies over the United States and Canada (this information was published on official NORAD's webpage). So, in fact, NORAD is controlling the entire air-communication over the Earth, but their special important mission is monitoring air-communication over Canada and USA, that is: tracking citizens of that countries.

text: Pawel Janicki

wording: Agnieszka Kubicka-Dzieduszycka