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Taking out the evil doctors?
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2005 8:18 am    Post subject: Taking out the evil doctors? Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Uh.. anyone here still remembers Steve Kurtz? You know, that incredibly evil artist who now faces a 20 year jail sentence for bio-terrorism?

Professor faces jail in bio-terror scare

Christian Sciene Monitor tells it all: yeah baby.. click me now



What do you guys think?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2005 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I believe in freedom of expression, but I'd like to see what the outcome of this is before making a judgement. I'm actually glad the para-medics reported this to the police and that the FBI investigated. After all, there was a dead person in the apartment. It is reasonable that they talk to people Kurtz works with and knows. Not to do so would be irresponsible. If Kurtz is really innocent, then after due process and due diligence the FBI should drop this investigation and give the guy his equipment back.

Would it be art if someone pulled a fake AK47 out at a football game and pointed it towards the crowd? Maybe, but such an artist should expect the logical consequences. That might include getting immediately gunned down by security people. Maybe we should give him a standing ovation after that? Twisted Evil

Scaring people with fake biological material is over the top, IMHO. Biological terrorism is something governments have to keep ahead of. People who work in this area have to make some very tough calls, sometimes instantaneously. Maybe they deserve a little compassion too.

There is very little intellegent dabate about the patriot act. I don't see how this helps much.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2005 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I have read some interviews. I am pretty sure Kurtz never was terrorist, but I am not getting what he really is about.

Critical Art Ensemble is of course on the web: http://www.critical-art.net/

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2005 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Very dry and boring, to me at least. I started to read a white paper and couldn't make it though the first page. Confused
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

i followed this quite closely as it was unfolding...a good example of the same press release (from the cae) being used over and over again as a "story" with no analysis, commentary, or critical thought applied to it. this issue spread like wildfire among "artists" and "activists" who were all shouting about the persecution of an ARTIST.

in reality, there was a dead middle aged woman in an apartment with no apparant cause of death, and the apartment was filled with peetree dishes full of bacterial cultures...not labled, not organized, and for no apparant purpose. yes, the fbi took the body and the apartment for several days, but even the local aclu representative agreed that this was all understandable, and proper. when it was clear that the cause of death was not from the cultures, and that they were an "art project", the apartment and body were returned (i forget what happened to the cultures).

what "artists" and "activists" fail to notice or talk about is what the cae actually does and ecourages others to do. (this is all explicit and laid out in the cae writings, you can look those up if you wish...i won't link to them). if there is a biotech facility that you don't like, plant mutant fruit flys in area resturants so as to make the general population think there problems. sources of mutant fruit flys are provided, as are detailed instructions on how to do this (and how often)...how would you feel if it were your (or your parents) resturant having been "targeted"?

also, distributing "biological agents" via balloons is encouraged, as well as other (biolocaly relatviely begnin) "pranks" that are designed to make people think there is a problem (one such "installation" caused a bomb scare on a ferry boat).

to my mind, these guys are terrorists who try to encourage others to also become terrorists while hiding behind free speech. i do believe in freedom of speech, but the cae does the equivilent of telling everyone to shout "fire" in a crowded movie theater just to show everyone that it would be difficult for everyone to get out if there were a fire....and who cares who might be trampled (or loose their business) in the process. i do think there is real value in artists (and even engineers) to critique society, and to point out where there are potential problems....doing this by "making" a problem is hardly productive, and definitley dangerous. remember, your own job _near_ a biotech facility is fair game....perhaps even a venue you might perform at.

the current state of this case is (i belive) that kurtz and a university scientest are being charged for "wire fraud" for illegal selling of bacterial cultures over the mail. the cultures in question are of the most begnin type, requiring only the most minimal of labrotory procedures and safety practices (the sale of such cultures are regulated so that only facilities that meet those minimal requrements can obtain them from the suppliers)...but of course steve kurtz had none of the safety mechanisms and procedures in place, and no supplier would sell to him. even these harmless agents can make you sick if they are mishandled.

again, these cultures are relatively harmless, but would you want the person in the next apartment running biotech experements (or "art installations") with no requirements to know what they are doing? do you consider the (self appointed) title of "artist" to qualify one in biotech safety?

i played a show onetime where there was an installation of bubble machines blowing bubbles made from water that was used to wash cadavers in a morgue in mexico city...the water was "sterilized by the artist"....it didn't give me much comfort, and when the installation was at moma, they required anyone who wanted to enter the room sign a wavier....i was able to get the bubble machines turned off (when i pointed out that bubbles would land in people's drinks), but we were basically swimming in the stuff (the carpet was soaked), and i had to wash (in the tub) every wire and cable i had. would you rather drink such water that was "sterilized by the artist", or "sterilized in an acreddited lab"....i know my choice.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
to my mind, these guys are terrorists who try to encourage others to also become terrorists while hiding behind free speech. i do believe in freedom of speech, but the cae does the equivilent of telling everyone to shout "fire" in a crowded movie theater just to show everyone that it would be difficult for everyone to get out if there were a fire....and who cares who might be trampled (or loose their business) in the process. i do think there is real value in artists (and even engineers) to critique society, and to point out where there are potential problems....doing this by "making" a problem is hardly productive, and definitley dangerous. remember, your own job _near_ a biotech facility is fair game....perhaps even a venue you might perform at.


I agree with you. I see this as senseless sillyness and extremely counterproductive. Calling this art makes it OK? I don´t think so. I am of course not against political art, but this is really something else.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

....just so you can hear it from "the hoses mouth" (rather than the other end), here is direct pasting from the cae
http://www.critical-art.net/books/molecular/chapter5.pdf

If FBS ["fuzzy biological sabotage] has roots, it is in the realm of pranks. Most readers
probably have a story of a prank that they or someone they
knew did involving a biological agent. Placing a dead
rodent or fish (nature’s stink bombs) in a heating duct at
school or some other offending institution is one of the
classics. However, these are not among the class of pranks
that are of interest to the fuzzy saboteur. FBS pranks are not
done for a good laugh, for public embarrassment, or simply
to be annoying; rather, they should be done as a form of
psychological disturbance—more along the lines of LSD
in Castro’s cigars and liquid refreshment before a public
address (to use an example from the CIA’s book of practical
jokes). Pranks can be used to stir up internal institutional
paranoia, or they can be used to divert attention toward
useless activities. Pranks can provide their own unique
blend of inertia.
For example, the release of mutant flies in research facilities
and neighboring offices can potentially have a
disturbing effect. There are all kinds of mutated flies
available on the market. They come in various colors with
almost any type of deformity one might desire. Labs use
them for cross-generational study because they are easy to
raise, reproduce quickly, and maintain unusual genetic
codes. Choose a set of mutated flies and begin a steady
release of them into biotech facilities (it also works well in
nuclear facilities). They can be set free in lobbies, parking
garages, parked cars, almost anywhere. One does not have
to challenge a fortified site—the flies themselves will do
the infiltration. If enough flies are acquired or produced,
you just have to be near the site and release swarms of
them. Trespassing is not really necessary, unless there is a
need for specific targeting. It only takes the occasional
observation of them on a regular basis for people to start
wondering what might be causing the appearance of these
strange creatures. Needless to say, the first conclusion will
not be that some fuzzy saboteur must be letting mutated flies
go in the offices. The imagination will provide more exotic
scenarios. The key here is consistency, not quantity. Moreover,
relying on the power of the rumor mill that develops
in any workplace, we can be sure that the fear and/or
conspiracy factor will be considerably amplified. A paranoid
work force is an inefficient work force. This approach thus
creates inertia in the system. In the best-case scenario, an
investigation into the origins of the flies would be launched,
which would burn more cash and waste even more employee
time. In the worst-case scenario, the prankster would provide
a topic of conversation at breaktime.
If there are other businesses near the research facility, let
the flies loose in there too. Restaurants are particularly
good locations, since customers are sedentary for a while
there, and flies call attention to themselves in environments
where food is served. This can have the effect of
aiming local business owners’ and workers’ suspicions at
what may be occurring in labs nearby. Needless to say,
local tensions could easily increase, and those who never
would join a movement could become unknowing cohorts
or willing allies.
Pranks such as this one are easy and inexpensive. As for the
flies, they really don’t care where they are, as long as it’s a
location that corresponds to their adaptability range. As for
environmental danger, this is negligible. Mutant flies have
no adaptive advantage in the wild and their recessive
characteristics are not likely to be selected for. They are
not overachievers when it comes to survival, so there
should be few worries about environmental pollution in
any ecological sense. The pollution will be in the human
psyche. And isn’t it better for a mutant fly to soar free for
the resistance than serve a lifetime in laboratory servitude?
For those who would like to have their own mutant fly
hatcheries, they are fairly easy and inexpensive to start and
maintain. The flies are free, and can be obtained on the
web from the Bloomington Fly Center. To maintain the
flies you will need fly bottles (they hold about 100 flies);
however, if you are on a small budget, you can substitute
milk bottles for this function. The fly food is made from
molasses, yeast, and apple juice. To get the perfect consistency
requires a little human power, but a machine to do
this is also available (but they are costly). For optimum
breeding an environment with a relatively stable temperature
is necessary. The flies should be kept at a temperature
between 18-25 Celsius with humidity between 40% and
50%. Flies are fairly robust, but must be kept away from
extreme temperatures (especially heat). The life cycle is
about one month, so producing a swarm (10,000) is a
laborious, assembly-line like task; however, maintaining a
small amount over a long period of time is relatively easy.
Test Site Disruption
Over the past forty years, resistant groups have made tremendous
strides in terms of organizational principles. Many have
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Shocked

But is this art? If so this is damned close to entering events as the "Bay of Pigs" disaster and kristallnacht as artyfarty pranks in the curator´s book too. I think I have decided to hate all art. I am still considering it.

I am not sure Kurtz in fact should be jailed for doing this, but I think his father should give him a jolly good spanking. He should stay in is room for a few weeks and .. no TV! Brats!

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

...i'm not sure about jail either. what concerns me is the "bandwagon" that every activist, artist, and art group that will talk about the kurtz case supports him. i don't hate all art, but i hate it that artists seem so married to their "anti government" adgeda that they can't read the actual writing of the person they hold up as a martyr for their cause (artistic freedom).

much like i wish "high profile muslims" would condem suicide bombings and murder, i wish "high profile artists" would condem such art...instead, they throw benefits for them Sad ...it makes me feel distant from the artistic community, and makes me doubt the ability of the artistic community to think at all.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think we have an artistic community right here. I am not seeing any senseless ultra right wing activism going on at electro-music.com in the style of Kurtz and his bioterrorism gig. Perhaps musicians are able to think and make art at the same time? Toetapping improves the sense of right and wrong?
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'm saddened that these idiots get the attention they crave. Next time around, why don't they throw themselves in front of a train to demostrate the futility of trying to stop a train. I'll answer that rhetorical question meself: It would be unfair against the poor train driver, that's why.
Throw them off cliffs to show them the futility of fighting gravity! A high cliff, for preference!

mad, short circuit mad, short circuit

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Art Ethics: http://electro-music.com/forum/topic-6753.html
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Oskar wrote:
A high cliff, for preference!


More time to contemplate :-)

From what I've read sofar I don't see much art happening, not much terrorism either, but it seems kind of sick to me.

Jan.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

jan,
what would you call it if you had to leave your apartment (or block) because of an unexplained infestation of mutant flys? what if the company you work for was closed because of such an infestation? what if it were your own business being targeted (with all of your resources tied up in it)? what if it was an entire city? what if you stumbled across someone spreading "bioloical agents" (of an unknown variety) via weather ballon...if they claimed they were "artists" performing "fuzzy biological sabotage", would you consider it safe?

granted, talking about such things is differant than doing them, but then again, i don't think it should be legal to offer a step by step guide to use over the counter drugs to drug and date rape someone on a college campus.

i have "evil ideas" almost daily....i don't publish them because i don't want to encourage anyone, the cae seems to think this is ok.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I guess I'd call it terrorism and then the next day regret using that word. One has to be on the watch for word inflation all the time.

I'd still be pretty angry though (probably even having violent thoughts), but to me it's more like a sick joke than like terrorism - like yelling "fire" in a public space.

Maybe I should have said "really sick" instead of "prety sick" in my earlier mail.

Jan.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

...the reason it's a "sick joke" to yell fire in a movie theater is that fires in public places were common ways to die (even with media coverage of disasters, i don't think we can relate because of sprinker technology, rapid response, fire regulations,etc....perhaps crying "anthrax" at a cocaine party might be a more appropriate analogy). and therefore, the mention of "fire" in such a space would cause enough panic that one could be trampled to death....which is more than a sick joke.

the actions that the cae actively advocates behaviour that can cause such panic (it's their purpose), and on a much larger scale (imho).

the most balanced article i saw on this case (and the only one to be critical of the cae) is the following (i wasn't sure it was still online):

http://valleyadvocate.com/gbase/Arts/content?oid=oid:71224

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Terrorists don't measure the effectiveness of their craft by the numbers of people they kill or the financial impact, but by the fear and chaos they inflict on the society they are attacking. Certainly, the WTC disaster was not significant because of the death and destruction (compared, for example, to the death and financial damage that the tobacco or drug businesses cause), but by the fear induced in the population, and in the erosion of freedoms in society that results.

Thus, IMHO, when you release bacteria or mutated flies into the environment in order to generate an effect, you are essentially a terrorist. What's the difference if you do this in the name of Art or Islam?

I think the punishment for such attacks should be less when people are not hurt. I would expect a judge and jury would consider this in a trial.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

...although i think of tobacco and the drug industry deaths as a little differant than the wtc (one, on some level chooses to smoke or take drugs, which have death by lung cancer, drug overdose, heart attack, etc as some of the reasonable expectations of the outcome...the people at the wtc did not choose (or could reasonbly expect) to be in the flightpath of fuel ladden airliners), i agree with what you say.

a question arrises, however. the cae publishes how (and why) to do these acts, and don't participate (at least not as far as they will admit in public). is it freedom of speech to encourage others to do such acts? is it terrorism? ...or is it just plain stupid (and those involved deserve to be tangled in whatever red tape they find themselves in)?

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

deknow wrote:

a question arrises, however. the cae publishes how (and why) to do these acts, and don't participate (at least not as far as they will admit in public). is it freedom of speech to encourage others to do such acts? is it terrorism? ...or is it just plain stupid (and those involved deserve to be tangled in whatever red tape they find themselves in)?

I'm no lawyer, but I think it is a crime to publically advocate killing someone, like a political leader. IMHO, I certainly belive they "... deserve to be tangled in whatever red tape they find themselves in." That would be part of their "art", wouldn't it?

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

what is the most shocking (to me), is that here we are having a discussion where everyone involved seems to agree that the cae and steve kurtz are up to no good, and at least suspect.

try finding any other artist doing anything but decrying the kurtz case as the bush administration abusing the (inherently abusive, bush created) patriot act to persecute an artist who couldn't possibly be a terrorist. i can't even find a news story (besides the one i posted) that does so.

i don't know how an artistic community can exist without some real critical thought and commentary for artists that do encourage terrorism. imho, it feels like the "bush bad" adgenda trumps everything for artists...and it's not healthy. i must admit to being suprised by the reactions here (although from only about 4 people), as my past experiences with discussing this issue in artistic circles have revealed nothing but "artist being persecuted by the patriot act!"


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
I certainly belive they "... deserve to be tangled in whatever red tape they find themselves in." That would be part of their "art", wouldn't it?

well, yes it would. of particular note is that when his wife passed away (it would be an understatement to call this "a difficult time" i would imagine...his wife died), steve kurtz became the "victim" of exactly the kind of hoax he advocates using against industry he doesn't like....relatively harmless bacteria aroused suspicions leading to evacuating his whole block (i'm sure he is popular among his neighbors), the seizure of his cat, his wifes body, 22 hours in jail, and an indictment....all things that would really suck to have to deal with while dealing with his wifes death at the same time. the innocent neighbors are the resturants and businesses that surround offending industry facilities that kurtz claims are fair targets.

of course, no one planted this on kurtz, he was growing the cultures in his own apartment, and his wife was the editor of all of the cae publications...this makes it (in my mind) much less harmful to society than the sabatoge the cae advocates...it seems like justice (or karma).

the cae doesn't seem to see it from this (comical) angle...although to me it seems the pinnical of kurt's own medium....he has illustrated the dangers of trusting "artists" blindly by acting so irresponibly, and caused a huge scene so that everyone would notice....too bad most people seem to miss this "cosmic point", but i'm heartend that it seems to be embraced here.

of course it's always possible that the fbi killed hope kurtz so they could bust steve, but i think occams razor precludes that.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

deknow wrote:
try finding any other artist doing anything but decrying the kurtz case as the bush administration abusing the (inherently abusive, bush created) patriot act to persecute an artist who couldn't possibly be a terrorist. i can't even find a news story (besides the one i posted) that does so.


I don't think members of this community are big Bush supporters. But, we can be both anti-Bush and pro-American. We can both be artists and against playing pranks on people with mutant flies and biological samples. I don't think the Bush adminstration is going after this guy because of his art. If I thought that, I'd be outraged.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

howard, i agree with everything you said (and i loved the "protest song" at em05....great vocodorals...catchy even!), and as i said, i'm encouraged by the discussion here.

i was refering to other forums in which i've discussed this and almost every single "news article", "art group press release", and "call to action" that i have come across on this issue (do a google search, you will see, there is no rational discussion that even referances the cae's published material, it's dangers, or even the rational action of the fbi in investigating except for the one article i posted). i stick with my point....do look around and see how many "articles" you can find that don't use this as an "abuse of the patriot act" with no mention of what the cae actually does (they only refer to them as "the critically acclaimed cae".

this is a very unique community, and i value it greatly (for both gear and non gear related subjects), and i have no expectations for it to be a bush supporting community, and i'm happy to find it an island of sanity (at least on this particular issue) in the sea of artists i associate with on and off line.

it is worth noting that in introducing this topic, electro80, through reading and referancing the story from the perspective with which it is generally discussed, seemed to be under the impression that this was a baseless persecution of an artist (am i wrong? i hate to put words in people's mouths). it would be almost impossible to come to any other conclusion without actually reading the cae's own writings, and without having followed this from the begining.

deknow
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

deknow wrote:
it is worth noting that in introducing this topic, electro80, through reading and referancing the story from the perspective with which it is generally discussed, seemed to be under the impression that this was a baseless persecution of an artist (am i wrong? i hate to put words in people's mouths). it would be almost impossible to come to any other conclusion without actually reading the cae's own writings, and without having followed this from the begining.


I have followed this story in norwegian papers and some of the local artyfarty rags. I didn´t make any sense of it and decided to look into it a bit more closely. I read osme interviews of this guy, those weren´t really making much sense. I have absolutely no problem with him feeling sad about his wife´s death.
I think it is higly probable that he is not a terrorist. I don´t buy that bit. But after reading more about the critically acclaimed CAE stuff, I got really worried.
Subversive art may be justified. I have no problem with that. However, I do think an artist should be resonsible and use decent means. By decent I am not thinking the KKK way of white supremacy or christian values or whatever. I am simply meaning decent. One should simply not be destructive. I see the cae as mainly a destructive force that is unable to make any points at all.

So what was the feds and the police and the lot to do when they got this shit on their hands? I think they are still scratching their heads and trying to figure this out.

As for the evil doctors take on this, yes... it was some mild mannered satire I guess. Do any of you guys understand why these guys are trying hard at being Winnie The Pooh versions of Joseph Mengele? I don´t. I simply don´t get it. Why being subversive without an actual message to convey?

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

However, I do think that it is perfectly OK to make shocking art or even lazy and cute stuff. The message can everything from "Flowers are nice and I like cosy kittens too" onwards to the more demanding and challenging stuff.
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