All of a sudden, Tom Cruise is flashing an eerily white smile, soon taken over by King Leonidas in “300”, dripping with sweat, which has now morphed into Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in “Dumb and Dumber”, and without warning they are replaced by a large pair of breasts getting oiled up, soundtracked by a booming sound bite as Taylor Swift shimmies on to the screen alongside the distorted images of South Park, which are floating over large white Chinese characters and a woman in the background is moaning in ecstasy. This is Pirate Cinema.
Paris based artist Nicolas Maigret has created a chaotic landscape within Pirate Cinema that is defined by shapes and sounds compiled from the top 100 videos on the P2P site, The Pirate Bay. To experience the work, one enters a type of monitoring room set up in Ljubljana’s Aksioma Project Space, which is equipped with three large screens. On these three screens is the visual representation of information as it is consumed and dispersed across the globe. As it is on any torrent site, the location of the sender and recipients are displayed on the top of the screen in bold red and green letters. To really bring the user experience into the gallery space, the Pirate Cinema is displaying the mash-up of images as it’s happening in real time.
Upon entering the one room space, an onslaught of images, from the Little Mermaid to a leather-clad dominatrix, to a cacophony of sounds, to Nicki Minaj and country western slide guitar, are thrust upon the viewer. The Pirate Cinema relies on data interception software that captures the data as it’s being monitored, highlighting the various layers of exchange platforms, from the file, to the user name and time. Even though those individuals who are sharing and downloading files are unaware that they are on display, Maigret has referred to them as contributors to Pirate Cinema, as they are in part fueling this experience.
The main objective in Maigret’s work is to bring the experience back into digital data. For Maigret, this information is not totally separate from the human experience, and it can be seen like a black box. As file sharing has played an active role in disseminating information and has been instrumental in forming global culture.
As images fly across the screen, Disney movies are being downloaded in Jerusalem from a file in the UK and Call of Duty is crossing over from Japan to France: and behind each location and timestamp there is a user. The Pirate Cinema has created a platform for translating computer languages to something universal.
Text by Amanda Gray
Pirate Cinema is currently being exhibited at Aksioma-Institute for Contemporary Art in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Aksioma is socially conscious forward space dedicated to presenting new media projects that dive deeper into the role that media plays in contemporary society. The exhibition will be open until 20 February.
Maigret will also be presenting his work alongside Brendan Howell and People Like Us, at Transmediale tonight at 21:00