Art Meets Technology in David Darts’ PirateBox

The PirateBox? What is it?

The PirateBox is an electronic device that creates mobile, autonomous, wireless hotspots that allow people in the same space to communicate anonymously and share electronic files without connecting to the Internet. It was inspired by the free culture and Pirate Radio movements.

What’s behind your invention?

I wanted to provide people with an easy way to communicate electronically without the need for intermediaries like telephone companies or Internet service providers. With the PirateBox, you simply turn it on to transform any space into a free and open
communications and file-sharing network. Clearly, this has cultural
and political implications, and so the PirateBox also serves as an artistic provocation designed to generate further discussion around important contemporary issues like privacy, surveillance, and control in the digital age.

What is the question that the PirateBox answers?

Is it possible to re-purpose existing electronic equipment and free
software to provide local communities with increased electronic
privacy and control over their communications?

 

David Darts is an assistant professor in Steinhardt’s Department of Art and Art Professions.