Hacking Rhetoric

Artist’s Statement – MinChul Han

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            When I first received the name of my victim whom I had to hack, I was blank about how I would perform this assignment. I didn’t have a single idea about any of the process that I could do to reveal this person’s password. Even though the password options were limited to few questions, obtaining such personal data of someone I completely do not know about felt like a difficult mission.

           The very first option I could reach out was to find this person’s Facebook profile. My Facebook profile was deactivated at the time since I felt like I was devoting too much of my time into it but due to this assignment, I had to re-activate to access the system. After re-activating, I searched for my classmate’s name but I could not get the exact match from this search. Almost all of my friends on Facebook are Koreans and so, the search gave me all the Korean people with the same English name. I tried typing in the full name but that also didn’t work out well. I was stuck at that position until a hint was given on the blog from my hackee. The hint made everything work out and I was able to progress. The hint was “I spent most of my life in Marlton and Cherry Hill of New Jersey, but I was born in _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, New Jersey, 08043.” This hint told me that his password is the answer to the question, “What city were you born in?” and by typing in “New Jersey, 08043” into a Google search gave me the exact answer I was looking for which was “Voorhees.”

           Now that I broke into his system, I started reading few of his blog posts to choose what hack I can perform with his account. As I was reading, I found out that my hackee was very much into cyberpunk and the cyberpunk culture. One of his blog posts talked about an art piece that dealt with this topic and this particular piece of art actually caught my eyes with its explicitness. It was an art named “Medialand: The Bastardization of Humanity in a Time of Great Need” by Jeffery Scott. It starred a naked woman right at the middle of the image. Looking at this, I thought that since he is very interested in this culture, I could actually hack this blog post to talk about my ideas of this image and see how it contrasts with his ideas.

           Before I jumped right into talking about my opinions on the art piece, I actually thought that censoring this image is the appropriate thing. My hackee actually started his blog post saying “WARNING: The piece I’ve chosen is NSFW, view at your own discretion” but I changed this phrase to “The piece I’ve chosen is NSFW but I censored it to an appropriate level. It is fine to view the image without any warning NOW.” I downloaded the image and blocked off the explicit parts with a black square. Then, I made a website to upload this image so that I can link the piece directly from the blog post. Now the image was censored and anyone was allowed to view it without any warning for NSFW.

           After dealing with the art piece itself, I started manipulating my victim’s thoughts in his writing into my opinions. I tried to edit it, not too much tweaking on the style of the writing. I maintained the original author’s tone so that people would see my arguments as my hackee’s ideas. My ideas and the original argument on the blog differed like this. I said,

“Notice how all the men watching the TV all look the same; this could be to show the anonymousness of the people on media. We know that people in real life have different characteristics to each other so that we can identify various people around us but people we see through media are all anonymous and thus cannot identify the true identity of each other.”

when the original writing said,

“Notice how all the men watching the TV all look the same, this could be to show a future filled with clones, or a race that has evolved to be the same, or maybe that people don’t care about the fact they look different anymore.”

I actually interpreted the artwork’s message differently from my hackee thus, wrote down on the blog my ideas as if it was his.

           We had similar but different views on this same artwork and connected to the exact same piece with different messages in our minds. I wanted to show my hackee that other people might have alternative thoughts that differ from his, just like mine.



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