A Beautiful Beast | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 24.05.2002
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A Beautiful Beast

They are the fear of every computer user: viruses. But a museum in Frankfurt says they belong to everyday digital life, and has dedicated an exhibit to them.


"I love you" was one of the most damaging viruses in past years.

Computer viruses are part of our culture. At least that’s what the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) in Frankfurt says. Its division digitalcraft has put together an interdisciplinary exhibition on these bugs.

"I love you - computers_viruses_hackers_culture" takes a closer look at 30 years of computer virus history and its technical development. It seeks to show the connection of viruses as a factor of economic threat and as an element that gives momentum to art.

"In a society of communication and information, dealing with computer viruses belongs to everyday digital life," digitalcraft says.

Visitors to the exhibit can view an interactive database containing several hundred emulated viruses - all made harmless, of course. There are also demonstrations of the effects of viruses, and what a monitor looks like after contamination

Artistic potential

Project leader Franziska Nori says "particular attention is paid to the aesthetic component of the code creation".

"I love you" wants to show the aesthetic dimension of computer viruses. One of the perspectives it takes up devotes itself to the programming code as a unique language.


Abstracted computer keyboard over numbers.

Digitalcraft says that, besides its mere functionality, these codes have a high artistic and aesthetic standard.

"Comparable to the experimental poetry of the early vanguard – Baudelaire, Rimbaud, the poétes maudits as well as Apollinaire and the surrealists – code poets experiment with this material of today’s information society."

The exhibition is accompanied by several expert talks among web and software artists, literature specialists, free software programmers, security experts, cryptographs and media sociologists.

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