Illicit images

From Rhizome Artbase
Greg Sidal

"Illicit Images" are images taken from everyday Web pages then reduced
to anonymous and indistinct visual static. Using data encryption
technology, the artist experiments with the structure of these images in
a programmatic and transparent fashion.

Greg Sidal
5 March 2001

This Web site displays thumbnail-linked galleries of images collected
from the Internet. The pixel data in each image was encyphered using
the strongest cryptographic algorithms, resulting in images that appear
to be composed of random static.
Great care was taken to insure that the original images can not be
recovered, especially through coercive methods. The images were
collected in a "clean-room" environment from various deeply linked
locations using a Web browser with its URL display areas obscured from
view and with image display support disabled. An encrypted redirection
service was also used to insure that no useful ISP or similar logs were
recorded during collection.
Each image was selected based on its promotional context, encyphered
using a unique properly randomly generated key, and compressed. The
keys existed only long enough to perform the encryption. The images
were compressed using a scheme that preserved the visual appearance of
the ciphers. The software used was improvisationally composed from code
extracted from various open-source net repositories.
The encrypted and compressed images were transferred to the Web site,
and finally the hard drive in the computer used for collection and
processing was destroyed. The artist never viewed the original images
(in some cases images were made visible to the artist during collection
due to the design characteristics of the associated Web sites, and these
images were specifically rejected).

Greg Sidal
5 March 2001
Variant History
static files
5 March 2001
Rhizome staff