Amazon Noir, Paolo Cirio, Alessandro Ludovico & Lizvlx

26 July 2007


The Amazon Noir crew (Cirio, Lizvlx, Alessandro Ludovico and Hans Bernhard) have been stealing copyrighted books from the website, one of the major online booksellers that have globally expanded their business over the years. When buying a book one has the opportunity to “search inside the book”.

By using sophisticated robot-perversion-technology coded by super villain Paolo Cirio, the Amazon Noir artistic group was able to get access to ALL pages of the books that are offered online. In this way they were able to download complete publications and offer them for free on their website as public property and based on an economy of sharing.

A legal fight started with and big online debates followed in which the limits of copyright were discussed.

Lizvlx from UBERMORGEN.COM had daily shoot outs with the global mass-media, Cirio continuously pushed the boundaries of copyright (“online books are just pixels on a screen”, he stated), Ludovico and Bernhard resisted kickback-bribes from powerful until they finally gave in and sold their technology for an undisclosed sum to

Betrayal, blasphemy and pessimism finally split the gang of bad guys. In the end the good guys ( win and drive off with the beautiful and seductive femme fatale (the mass media).

This project provides a critique of propriety models of cultural production and distribution. This while doesn’t only sell books but asks its customers to tag texts, write critiques, which then are available for customers, and thus make them also cultural producers. In this way suggests a kind of community of sharing which was then tested by Amazon Noir.

Amazon Noir addresses the debates on open models for content use and distribution as we see being developed in open source practices which are based on sharing content. The debate on Copyrights in a digital economy has been going on for many years now, the introduction some years ago of Creative Commons is just one of the outcomes of this, as is the movement of FLOSS—Free Libertarian Open Source Software.

Nevertheless this issue is still a very contemporary issue since innovation in a knowledge society is depending on the concept of sharing and having access to knowledge and information for as many players as possible. Looking at Copyrights and intellectual property issues on a global scale we are also facing tremendous unbalances in having access to knowledge and information as a basis for social, cultural and economic innovation.

Amazon Noir can be seen in a tradition of conceptual art as well as performative arts in this case using any platform they can find from traditional mass media, the Internet, and the street. Over the last 15 years there have been several protagonists in this direction, who have tried to break the boundaries of traditional artistic spaces.

Etoy, RtMark, Critical Art Ensemble are strong examples of this. In an interview Paolo Cirio—one of the participants in the Amazon Noir project—stated “we engage in our show different actors: the audience, media, art and the legal system.

Every layer of our complex society is in this scenography, because happenings should be in the anthropologically space of our contemporary culture”.

Amazon Noir