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Data Loss Cruft (Corruption)

This cruft algorithm downloads a recent photo from the Whitehouse.gov website as well as a report published by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism listing U.S. covert drone war casualty estimates. The text file of casualty estimates is literally inserted into the binary code of The White House photo. The drone war information becomes hidden from view, but corrupts the image producing visual distortion often referred to as a glitch. This work uses digital leftovers, consisiting of information either usually forgotten, or in the case of the drone war information, it is usually hidden, and in the process this cruft re-generates a new image by altering the data, which then reminds us of it's origin.

Covert Drone War Casualty Estimates

Covert Drone War Casualty Estimates CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan 2004–2013 Total US strikes: 371 Obama strikes: 320 Total reported killed: 2,505-3,584 Civilians reported killed: 407-928 Children reported killed: 164-195 Total reported injured: 1,111-1,493 US Covert Action in Yemen 2002–2013 Confirmed US drone strikes: 50-60 Total reported killed: 254-370 Civilians reported killed: 15-56 Children reported killed: 2-3 Reported injured: 65-147 Possible extra US drone strikes: 81-100 Total reported killed: 289-463Civilians reported killed: 23-48Children reported killed: 6-9Reported injured: 81-106 All other US covert operations: 12-77 Total reported killed: 148-377Civilians reported killed: 60-88Children reported killed: 25-26Reported injured: 22-111 US Covert Action in Somalia 2007–2013 US drone strikes: 3-9 Total reported killed: 7-27 Civilians reported killed: 0-15 Children reported killed: 0 Reported injured: 2-24 All other US covert operations: 7-14 Total reported killed: 47-143 Civilians reported killed: 7-42 Children reported killed: 1-3 Reported injured: 12-20 Methodology

Casualty Estimates, CIA Drone Strikes. Retrieved from
http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/

Further Resources

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
The Bureau pursues journalism which is of public benefit. They undertake in depth research into the governance of public, private and third sector organisations and their influence. They make their work freely available under a Creative Commons licence.

Covert Drone War provides a full dataset of all known US drone attacks in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. This analysis has changed the public’s understanding of US actions and revealed that under Obama over 3,000 people, including nearly 500 civilians, have been killed by drones. The findings have been used widely in media outlets including the New York Times, Pakistan’s Dawn, and the BBC. In 2013 the Drones team won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, was invited to give evidence to the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones and was commended by Jamie Shea, assistant deputy general secretary, NATO and Christof Heyns, United Nations special rapporteur on extra judicial killings.




CRUFT: Art from Digital Leftovers

The relentless flow of information on the Internet that quickly becomes digital leftovers is examined by my art practice to reveal a relationship in which we don't simply consume media, but are also consumed by it. I explore the Internet as source material to be appropriated, taken apart, juxtaposed, and recycled by writing computer code that is automated and runs on a 24/7 schedule producing a form of collage I call Cruft. The resulting artwork allows me to investigate broader issues of originality, authorship, reproduction and temporality.

In response to the intense pace and constant change happening online, my art practice includes a slower and thoughtful method of applying traditional media such as charcoal, paint, wax and ink, to prints of selected Cruft images. These analog images are created over longer periods of time resulting in a meditative process that subverts the goals of speed, spectacle and distraction, offering an opportunity for slower looking and deeper thinking compared to the crushing overload of an endless stream of Cruft produced by automated computer processes.

The Internet has the ability to provide freedom by connecting us at great distances, democratizing the world's knowledge, and facilitating disruption and resistance to systems of power. It can also simultaneously provide control by restricting and regulating our thoughts and actions while propagating fear, divisiveness, surveillance and repression. My art practice delves into the very nature of the Internet, pulling at it’s strengths and exposing the flaws, producing what has been coined Post-Internet art, that by definition references the "network" that we all inhabit, and ultimately, it's effects on our society and culture.

Robert Spahr
Carbondale, IL
August 2018