Datamine: crate mixed media, computer data installation dimensions: 24 ft x 12 ft x 8 ft 2001
These slides show the exterior and interior of a large plywood crate containing computer components recovered from refuse dumpsters, assembled into a functional computer lab with an operating network. The computer lab was originally installed in the basement of the house where I live, where I assembled it and used it in a two year performance in which I recovered other peoples computer files left behind when their computers were discarded and saved them on recordable CD media. Holes were drilled in the sides of the crate at eye level so viewers could see its interior.
Small video clips showing my former interactions with the equipment played on many of the computer monitors. Boxes filled with discarded hard disks from discarded computers were clearly visible along with articles of clothing, consumed beverage containers and other by-products of the performance.
Datamine was a two-year performance project during which I collected discarded computer components from The Ohio State University. I then repaired these machines and installed them in the basement of my house, where I used them to make copies of files that had been left on the hard disks of other discarded computers left in dumpsters and other centralized disposal areas. The nature of the material retrieved from these disks ranged from internal departmental documents to personal emails and pornography once belonging to employees of the university. This computer lab grew in size during the duration of the performance and several thousand Megabytes of recovered files were compiled and stored. During the process of file recovery, a pair of welded aluminum signs placed on the side of my house flashed as data traveled across my homemade network. One sign read error , and lit up in red when an error occurred during the processing of stolen data. The second sign reading data ok flashed wildly as files were copied from one computer to another. For my MFA thesis exhibition I moved the entire contents of my basement to a plywood crate in the gallery space. This crate had the exact dimensions of the basement room where the materials had previously been installed, and text inscribed on the sides of the crate informed viewers of this information. This seemingly oversized crate had several holes drilled in its walls at eye level to facilitate a view of the interior, which contained a fully functional computer network, video, and sound. In fact, so much equipment was operating in the crate that the walls were warm to the touch, and audible beeps and fan noise could be heard at some distance. The space was arranged as an exact replica of the original basement computer lab's configuration, though there was no entrance allowing access to the inside.