Pit Schultz on Thu, 22 Jan 1998 20:31:00 +0100

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Syndicate: ars electronica 98: InfoWar

check: http://www.aec.at/

The ars electronica festival 98 will be presented under the title: 

The _information society_ - no longer a vague promise of a better
future, but a reality and a central challenge of the here-and-now - is
founded upon the three key technologies of electricity,
telecommunications and computers: Technologies developed for the
purposes, and out of the logic, of war, technologies of simultaneity
and coherence, keeping our _civilian society_ in a state of permanent
mobilisation driven by the battle for markets, resources and spheres
of influence. A battle for supremacy in processes of economic
concentration, in which the fronts, no longer drawn up along national
boundaries and between political systems, are defined by technical
standards. A battle in which the power of knowledge is managed as a
profitable monopoly of its distribution and _dissemination_. 

The latest stock market upheavals have laid bare the power of a global
market, such as only the digital revolution could have fathered, and
which must be counted as the latterÃ?s most widely-felt direct outcome.
The _digitally-networked_ market of today wields more power than the
politicians. Governments are losing their say in the international
value of their currencies; they can no longer control, but only react.
The _massive expansion_ of freely-accessible communication networks,
itself a global economic necessity, imposes severe constraints on the
arbitrary restriction of information flows. 

Any transgression of a _critical_ control functions in the
cybertechnologiesÃ? sphere of responsibility and influence puts central
power wielders in a hitherto unheard-of position of vulnerability and
openness to attack. The geographic _frontiers_ of the industrial age
are increasingly losing their erstwhile significance in global
politics, and giving way to vertical fronts along social

Whereas, in the past, war was concerned with the conquering of
territory, and later with the control of production capacities, war in
the 21st century is entirely concerned with the acquisition and
exercise of power over knowledge. The three fronts of land, sea and
air battles have been joined by a fourth, being set up within the
global _information systems_. Spurred on by the "successes" of the
Gulf war, the development of information warfare is running at full
speed. Increasingly, the attention of the military strategists is
turning away from _computer-aided warfare_ - from potentiation of the
destructive efficiency of military operations through the application
of information technology, virtual reality and high-tech weaponry - to
cyberwar, whose ultimate target is nothing less than the global
information infrastructure itself: annihilation of the _enemyÃ?s
computer_ and communication systems, obliteration of his databases,
destruction of his command and control systems. Yet increasingly the
vital significance of the global information _infrastructure_ for the
functioning of the international finance markets compels the
establishment of new strategic objectives: not obliteration, but
manipulation, not destruction, but infiltration and assimilation.
"Netwar" as the tactical deployment of information and disinformation,

targeted at human understanding. These new forms of _post-territorial_
conflicts, however, have for some time now ceased to be preserve of
governments and their ministers of war. NGOs, hackers, computer freaks
in the service of organised crime, and terrorist organisations with
high-tech expertise are now the chief actors in the _cyberguerilla_
nightmares of national security services and defence ministries. 

In 1998, under the banner of __"INFO WAR"__, the _Ars Electronica
Festival of Art_, Technology and Society, is appealing to artists,
theoreticians and technologists for contributions relating to the
social and political definition of the information society. The
emphasis here will lie not on technological flights of fancy, but on
the fronts drawn up in a society that is in a process of _fundamental_
and violent upheaval.