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Hackers. The Art of Abstraction

27 february, 2004 - 8 march, 2004 /
Sabatini Building, Auditorium

Originally, hacker was a word that designated someone who made furniture using an axe. In the cyber world, however, it has acquired numerous meanings related to the world of artificial intelligence and its uses on the Internet, from the positive connotation when referring to a person who enjoys exploring programmable systems in great detail and how to expand their possibilities, to the unfavourable meaning used to refer to people who maliciously try to discover delicate information by manipulating programming systems. Hackers. The Art of Abstraction is a series of documentaries, conferences and performance pieces dedicated to the hacker phenomenon and culture that highlights some key questions that arose alongside the earliest appearances of computer ‘piracy’: Are the security systems guaranteed by large corporations and web servers really stable? To what extent can hacker practices be categorised as meaningless vandalism? What lies in these practices of civil disobedience?

In the information age, the matrix of all development (technological, economic and social) is innovation, the supreme value inherent in innovation which when augmented by the revolution in information technologies, exponentially increases the capacity to generate wealth and accumulate power. However, innovation is not a clear-cut value. It must be associated with some type of personal satisfaction related to the act of innovation. Herein lies the essence of the hacker culture, according to Finnish philosopher Pekka Himanen: in the pleasure of creating for creation’s sake. This moves the world, especially the world in which cultural, technological, scientific and (in its non-economic aspect) business creations have become a direct productive force because of the new technological relationship between knowledge and the production of goods and services. According to this definition, it could be argued that hackers exist everywhere, not only in the information sphere. In fact, Himanen argues that everyone can be a hacker in their daily lives and that anyone who is moved by a passion to create in their specific field is motivated by a power higher than economic gain and the satisfaction of instincts. However, technological computer innovation is closely linked to changes in the information age, meaning that hacker culture shines most brightly in computer and Internet technologies.

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Curatorship: 
Jenny Marketou and Berta Sichel

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