Mail A Virus (2005)

by xtine

On May 19th Mail A Virus was launched as part of Eyebeam's arts and media Internet showdown, “Contagious Media” (May 19th - June 9th, 2005). Created out of nostalgia for computer viruses now considered “retro” and incorporating email as the apt transmitter, Mail A Virus allows viewers to browse postcards which depict now dated viral memorabilia, like the pervasive I Love You and Melissa email viruses. Although the Mail A Virus site itself is benign, it does test the level of technological hypochondria in a computer-age society. To the surprise of Eyebeam, artist xtine and collaborating programmer Vasna Sdoeung, the project was shut down by ISP Datagram within 72 hours of the project’s broadcast due to a “violation” of the terms of service.

A portion of Datagram’s official response to queries regarding the said “violation” reads:

"It's not really a question of our opinion of the site or how or ...

Full Description

On May 19th Mail A Virus was launched as part of Eyebeam's arts and media Internet showdown, “Contagious Media” (May 19th - June 9th, 2005). Created out of nostalgia for computer viruses now considered “retro” and incorporating email as the apt transmitter, Mail A Virus allows viewers to browse postcards which depict now dated viral memorabilia, like the pervasive I Love You and Melissa email viruses. Although the Mail A Virus site itself is benign, it does test the level of technological hypochondria in a computer-age society.  To the surprise of Eyebeam, artist xtine and collaborating programmer Vasna Sdoeung, the project was shut down by ISP Datagram within 72 hours of the project’s broadcast due to a “violation” of the terms of service.

A portion of Datagram’s official response to queries regarding the said “violation” reads:

"It's not really a question of our opinion of the site or how or what it is doing, it comes right down to the fact that these IP addresses can and have already begun to be black listed because someone may think you are sending viruses - even if you are not actually doing anything bad, you are setting off way too many alarm bells. Ironically, this was probably your goal - but unfortunately we can not have it coming from our net-space. The world is just way too paranoid about viruses right now..."

If a simulation of a computer virus produces the same results as an actual violation, how can we be sure that a simulation of other violations might not set off  similar “alarms?”  In such cases, improper punishment or penalties may ensue, all within a free and democratic society. The removal of the Mail A Virus project from the Contagious Media server is yet another example of censorship within the arts community and a result of the paranoid emotional landscape of a post-9/11 America.

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