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Prix 1987 - 2007

ORF Oberösterreich


Since and even well before the 11th of September, laws have been passed in the United States and in Europe that permit certain nations to keep all e-mail traffic under close surveillance. This has also happened in Switzerland. For more than a year now, Swiss providers have been required by law to retain telecommunications data for six months and, if required by a judge, to arrange the real-time interception of the email communication
of their customers. It is the consequence of these advanced surveillance practices that the question is no longer: Who? Where? What? but: What not? Fears are being fueled and “enemy” profiles established.

SuPerVillainizer is an interactive web project aimed against the establishment of the enemy profiles that these data retention surveillance scenarios are based on. Through the generating of artificial villains, SuPerVillainizer is questioning the prevalent notion of “friend” and “enemy”: SuPerVillainizer is about creating profiles of villains, rogues, bad guys, and scapegoats, equipping them with real email accounts at a Swiss provider, uniting them into conspiracies, and then watching as the villains start to automatically communicate with each other using SuPerVillainizer-generated conspiracy content, infiltrating the carefully planned surveillance system with more and more disinforming mails every day. This conspiracy mail content can be influenced, the conspiracy language chosen.

Because real email accounts at a real Swiss provider are being generated, and real mails are being sent using several SMTP-servers, the game is in reality taking place. This opens up the possibility of real consequences should the authorities fall for the fictional content or the real conspiratorial connections between the accounts. Moreover, this conspiratorial email traffic is not to be limited to Switzerland only: concerned emailusers can “donate” the email accounts they do not want to use (anymore). The accounts are integrated into the conspiracies and should be set to “AutoReply” if possible, so that an automated dialogue between the conspiring villains and the donated account evolves.

It is the goal of the project to render the aforementioned enemy profiles obsolete. The world does not consist only of good and evil as some people would like us to believe (example: “War on Terrorism”). SuPerVillainizer calls concerned people to act against this inadequate personalization (friend / enemy) and against the predominant black-and-white-thinking: many “enemy”- profiles coexist in the SuPerVillainizer environment and everyone can potentially become a villain: Bush conspires with Osama Bin Laden, a member of the Swiss federal council plots to contaminate water supplies together with Saddam Hussein. Everyone can declare themselves “SuPerVillains” and join a conspiracy. Here, the surveillance-system is being rendered absurd because it actually assumes that everybody is a potential criminal.