Modern art these days comes in a wide variety of forms, each one more and more unlikely, yet a group of artists in Switzerland have taken things one step further.
The group known as !Mediengruppe Bitnik, launched an exhibition at Kunst Halle St Gallen in Switzerland, entitled “Random Darknet Shopper” that exhibits the random purchases made by a robot on the Agora darknet marketplace.
The robot was given $100 a week in bitcoins to spend as it wished on the darknet market, and it came up with some interesting purchases from the darknet site.
These included ten packs of Chesterfield cigarettes, a black hat with a built-in hidden camera and a Hungarian passport.
Most notoriously, however, was the purchase of 10 yellow tablets, each containing roughly 90mg of MDMA, delivered straight to the art gallery.
At the end of the experiment, back in January, the robot, along with its purchases from the darknet site was seized by the Swiss Police.
There was also some debate as to whether the artists would face charges for purchasing illegal drugs on the darknet site.
However, we’re now three months on, and the robot has been released.
The artists stated on their website that all of the robot’s purchases were returned, minus the ecstasy, as court ruled that all of the other items were legal to possess.
All cases against the artists have also been dropped, with the public prosecutor stating that the purchase of ecstasy was a reasonable means of sparking public debate.
They also stated that the exhibition of the drugs was justified by the mass interest that the exhibit received.
For me, I feel that these happenings pose some interesting questions.
Firstly, where do we draw the line with art? What the robot did was illegal, and those responsible for the robot’s actions are the artists who programmed it.
Yet the public prosecutor has stated that the exhibition of the drugs was justified.
Also, will this cause an increase in drug sales on darknet sites? When people see that these purchases on the darknet were so easy to make, that a robot could do them, and that the artists managed to get ecstasy delivered to an art gallery, will more decide to try it for themselves?
Whatever happens, this is definitely a remarkable story, of art once more testing the boundaries of what’s acceptable.
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