Clemens Wallrath, Felix Held

keine zahl ist illegal

Das Bild zeigt die Ausstellungsansicht des  Werkes »keine zahl ist illegal«
Clemens Wallrath, Felix Held
keine zahl ist illegal
#Encoding #AlgorithmicGovernance
#Computing #Interface #Encoding
Medium / Material / Technic
Size / Duration
40 × 40 RGB LED matrix panel

Like color pixels, sound waves and binary data, numbers are just a specific mode of displaying information. They have no materiality, and only through the process of coding they become data that can take on different forms with the same content.

Copy protection systems such as AACS and HDCP are based on encryption that prevents unauthorized access to content. The master keys for AACS and HDCP, however, have already been cracked, rendering this protection ineffective. In some countries, the media industry has enforced a ban on disseminating these master keys.

The key is a dataset that is typically written in the form of a number. This raises the question of whether banning this number also means banning the information it presents. Such a ban entails far-reaching consequences: if a different form of presentation, for example a picture, contained the same information, the dissemination of this picture would also be forbidden.

The installation »keine zahl ist illegal« addresses the question of whether the same information (in the form of a combination of numbers) can be both legal and illegal at the same time, depending on its coding. The wall panel shows a 40 × 40 matrix with 56-bit numbers, and represents a copy protection master key, from which numbers can be generated. Pushing the “source” button generates a number to encrypt the data, and pushing the “sink” button generates a number to decode it. When the buttons are pushed, the columns and rows that are used in generating the number light up. The numbers that have been generated are then printed out, and can be taken along.