Incautious Porn

A fictional company harvests users' phone numbers publicly left in comments on porn websites, uses them to make generative paintings and sells them online. A research on our changing perception of privacy and on the blurring of the boundaries between public and private spaces.

The paintings and services sold by the fake company.

The process of the fake company.

The Story

A company harvests 400,000 phone numbers left by users of porn website on public comments (no login required, these are real phone numbers left in the open by incautious users).

The company uses these phone number and comments to produce generative paintings: each painting contains one of these phone numbers and comments. The paintings are on sale for 50$ each.

Users can check if they are on our databases. To do this, they must pay 10$.

Users can ask to be removed from our databases. To do this, they must pay 1000$.

The Facts

We have actually harvested all of this, to understand how people behave in relation to a delicate information such as a phone number in the digital public sphere.

We have anonymized this information: in our database each phone number is replaced by an unique identifier (technically, a hash. Thus, we don't keep the phone numbers, but we know how many we have, and who asks for them.

When someone buys one of the paintings with the phones and sexy comments: the sexy comment is there, but the phone number (which we don't have anymore in our database, substituted by a hash code) is replaced by Salvatore Iaconesi's phone number.

The 50$ collected through the paintings sale goes to fund the research. This might be considered as a peculiar type of crowdfunded research.

This far we have sold more than 800 paintings ( > 40.000$ for our research).

When someone asks to check on our database if their phone number is in it (and, thus, gives us their phone number) we reply that yes, of course their phone number is in the list. This is yet another indicator that we collect about the level of perception of the exposure of private data on internet websites.

This money, too, goes to our research. This far we have collected >200 contributions in this way.

When someone requests to be removed from our database and, thus, pays the 1000$, we give back the 1000$ and send them a complimentary privacy protection toolkit and guidelines. This is another indicator we collect for our research.

As so far, 3 people have asked to be removed, and have been completely refunded.

This has been going on for 3 months, and now we're ready to share the reresults of the resarch.

We consider this to be a really interesting model to perform scientific research, in which the practices of arts, communication and sciences are really interweaved and interdependent.

The Research

We have radically changed our perception of what is public and what is private.

Social networks, search engines and websites make it really complex to determine who has access to our information, our personal details, our habits and preferences.

We're being sold hundreds of times each day, while we surf websites and social media sites, wth our information passing from one provider to the other in ways that are subthe and non-transparent: data collected on one site may be used on other sited to sell us advertisements or to investigate on our lives.

On top of that, we tend to interpret social media sites as new forms of public spaces, and service providers make sure that we maintain this perception to promote our full disclosure, allowing them to collect even more data about ourselves.

We used Incautious Porn to investigate on this scenario, to explore the shifting and blurring of the boundaries of what we perceive as our privacy and as our private and public spaces.

Incautious Porn uses the operations of a fake company systematically invading our privacy (even to the point of performing simulated forms of blackmail) to collect enormous amounts of information which we have used to analyze this scenario.

In Incautious Porn art acts both as a sensor on the transformation of human societies and as a tool for analyzing its effects.