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Themesicon: navigation pathPublic Sphere_sicon: navigation pathPublic Sphere_s
Name.Space (Garrin, Paul), 1991

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the Linux kernel’s code. [37] According to Micz Flor, this stream references an earlier media crossing. «In the late seventies and early eighties, pirate broadcasters would exploit the fact that in the early days many computers would store and retrieve code by using audiotapes. The ZX Spectrum is probably the most popular home computer using this technology. Broadcasting such an audio signal allowed listeners to tape the software and load it into their computers. Systems employing different ways of storing data would require special software to modulate it into audio signals, which would then be demodulated by the users at the receiving end.» [38]

In 1995, Guillermo Gómez-Pena and Adrienne Jenik produced «El Naftazteca: Cyber-Aztec TV for 2000 AD,» a live satellite transmission in which Gómez-Pena plays a Cyber-Aztec pirate who commandeers a commercial TV signal from his underground studio. In 2005, as demonstrated by «Superchannel» and numerous other projects, anyone can have their own «TV station.»

The point is that all of these telematic works, regardless of what medium they are modeled on or what media they are combining, extend the public


sphere and create the possibility for extended public discourse. Except…

Code Is Law

In law professor Lawrence Lessig’s «Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace», he argues that how systems are coded – and this can apply equally to business rules and protocols as software written in a formal language – can have the de facto effect of legal enforcement. «We live life in real space, subject to the effects of code. We live ordinary lives, subject to the effects of code. We live social and political lives, subject to the effects of code. Code regulates all these aspects of our lives, more pervasively over time than any other regulator in our life. Should we remain passive about this regulator? Should we let it affect us without doing anything in return?» [39]

There are many artists and cultural organizations taking direct action regarding laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [40] or the DeCSS case, [41] including Paul Garrin’s «Name.Space» project, but I want to focus on two particular aspects of the public sphere in relation to code and legal regimes.

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