Mail A Virus!

From Rhizome Artbase

Created out of nostalgia for computer viruses now considered “retro” and incorporating email as the apt transmitter, Mail A Virus! allows viewers to browse postcards which depict now dated viral memorabilia, like the pervasive I Love You and Melissa email viruses. Although the Mail A Virus! site itself is benign, it does test the level of technological hypochondria in a computer-age society. Initially created for Eyebeam's arts and media Internet showdown, "Contagious Media" (May 19th - June 9th, 2005), Mail A Virus! was shut down by ISP Datagram within 72 hours of the project's broadcast due to a "violation" of the terms of service.

The rules of entry for "Contagious Media" stipulated that each web submission be a new work, live, and hosted on the official Contagious Media Server, in compliance with the service provider's terms of use, with no adds , bots , scams or paid works permissible. A portion of Datagram's official response to queries regarding the said "violation" reads:

"It's not really a question of our opinion of the site or how or what it is doing, it comes right down to the fact that these IP addresses can and have already begun to be black listed because someone may think you are sending viruses - even if you are not actually doing anything bad, you are setting off way too many alarm bells. Ironically, this was probably your goal - but unfortunately we can not have it coming from our net-space. The world is just way too paranoid about viruses right now..."

If a simulation of a computer virus produces the same results as an actual violation, how can we be sure that a simulation of other violations might not set off similar "alarms?" In such cases, improper punishment or penalties may ensue, all within a free and democratic society. The removal of the Mail A Virus! project from the Contagious Media server is yet another example of censorship within the arts community and a result of the paranoid emotional landscape of a post-9/11 America.

xtine burrough
17 January 2007
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xtine burrough