The Transparency Grenade


Julian Oliver


The Transparency grenade is equiped with a mini computer, a microphone and a powerful wireless antenna. Once activated, it intercepts the traffic on the wifi network as well as the random sounds around. The datas are then streamed anonymously and in a secured way on a server deidcated to these informations. user names, peripheral identifications, IP addresses, fragments of non crypted e-mails, web pages, images and sounds are collected and instantly displayed in public on the screen. A red dot on the map shows the place of the detonation.

Through this symbolic artifact, Julian Oliver critiques the lack of transparency of information circulated by governments and companies. He critiques the withholding and the control of practical information by these entities and advocates for freedom of information at a time when whistleblowers are always condemned. The grenade is presented here as the symbol of a passing to action. It is an immaterial explosion that is produced, without physical violence, publicly dispersing fragments of information.

Beyond political demands, the work also raises awareness among the public about the need to protect personal data, often intercepted and used for commercial ends or for espionage. Seeing photos, the sites visited, the fragments of emails instantly displayed before everyone’s eyes on the big screen, the visitor becomes conscious of the ease of intrusion into our private virtual space.

Julian Oliver (1984-) is an artist from New Zealand who defines himself as a “critical engineer.” His works, internationally recognized, use engineering and computer code as the central materials of creation, exploring their potentiality as much as denouncing their by-products. He also speaks at numerous workshops and conferences, particularly on software art, creative hacking, networks, object-oriented programming for artists, etc. An activist, he defends free and open source software and contributes to initiatives aiming to reinforce civil rights on the Internet.


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Transparency Grenade - Julian Oliver