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GALLERY 2010/2011

mobilization

Radical ATM Service
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1/1

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Webpage


Description of campaign/project


Radical ATM is not only a work of electronic art, but is also a music jukebox, a radical games console, a political propaganda display, an alternative mass communication media, an experiment on ICTs appropriation, an open source and open hardware machine, an activist installation to change the world.

Radical ATM Service offers awareness-raising for the mass of consumers. It basically consists of a series of fake ATMs that hijacks debit cards for some minutes while the owner is forced to consume radical propaganda against his/her own will.

After the Victim inserts his/her card, the following message appears:

***WARNING*** DO NOT ENTER YOUR PIN.
This ATM belongs to Radical ATM Service. Your debit card has been hijacked! But don’t worry: you will get it back safe and sound in a few minutes. We won’t take any money or information from you. Please do not panic. We’re not recording you, so you can behave naturally.

The victim will be, then, compelled to choose between a variety of options: radical games, music, documentaries, campaigns, etc.* When the process is complete, the Happy Victim gets his/her card back, but instead of getting money, he/she gets a set of nice subversive stickers to share with his/her friends and family.

* For Memefest we’d love to feed RATM with works presented in the festival.


We like to say that RATM is a ‘light terrorist’ action, since we’re using some violence in order to force people to consume radical contents against their own will. But at the same time, we make an effort to let them relax and enjoy the experience. We try to use humor to make a contrast with that violence.

We make a selection of great pieces of subverssive media (texts, videos, games) for people to enjoy by the time they learn new things about the world in which we live in. In that sense, RATM is an open platform where any kind of radical communication pieces can be displayed in, from static graphics or short videos, to texts or interactive games.


RATM ‘spreads the word’ of multiple organizations that are building alternatives all over the world. And it tries to reach an audience that is not necessary willing to listen to those messages.

RATM is also about trying to demystify the role of technology in market driven societies. We attempt to change the way people trust daily in the symbols of Capitalism.

RATM devices are built using pieces of broken printers and obsolete computer hardware, all commanded by an Arduino open hardware micro controller, which makes RATM enviroment friendly. RATM is open source and open hardware; the ‘know how’ is available for anybody who wills to replicate or modify our work.

We have two RATM units running, one in Argentina and the other in Germany. We like to dream with a network of Radical ATMs spreading all over the world, adapting their contents to local contexts by people from different communities.


That it is possible to do powerful things with some imagination, little money and hard work.

Curators comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

I decided to include the radical ATM to the works I curate because it possesses a few subversive qualities which I find irresistible. Radical it is. The project gets full marks on the aspect of being a fundamental critique of capitalism, and of one of capitalism's most recognizable objects: the teller machine.

The radical ATM distinguishes itself from other works because of its consequent approach and application. The machine as such is radical in all its dimensions. Combining open hardware and open software, the authors of this work have had the good idea to force the user into becoming a victim. By snatching one's bank card, the radical ATM captivates one's attention. It uses capitalist tactics (capitalism tends to want to force you into performing certain behaviours, including using a teller machine instead of a human teller) to direct the user out of his/her comfort zone.

Then, the contents (video games, documentaries, flyers, etc) - which unfortunately the description does not explain in great detail - show how creative the project can become. It makes me think of old cigarette dispenser machines that are used in Montreal by artists to distribute their art (zines, DVDs of spoken work, small stitched creations, etc). À propos, I was wondering whether one of the goals of this project was to distribute alternative art. It seems the intent is there, but I was thinking that instead of flyers, the machine could dispense all kinds of creative prints.

I would argue that the radical ATM has benefited from high technical knowledge and resolve, as well as strong conceptual effort. On the "people effort" index, I must admit that I have a few questions. One of the main criticisms of corporate communication is its "oneway-ness". That can be said of teller machines in general. Therefore, wouldn't it be of interest to render this limitation inoperative? Wouldn't it make sense for the radical ATM to become a node in a larger radical network of communication? You already have a machine in Argentina and in Germany. Isn't that the beginning of an international network of radical ATMs that could communicate with each other? Create radical stuff together? Whatever way one looks at this, I find the radical ATM would gain from inverting not only the message in the ATM, but also ways in which this message is shared and negotiated. I find that the users of the ATM are ready to graduate from their role of victim of a machine, of a system. They are ready to express their views through the radical ATM, to add their voice to the political conversation. An encounter with a radical ATM could become an invitation to step out of the rank, to move beyond propaganda communication and into a dialogue (ie. about banking, money, alternative currencies, the economic crisis, capitalism, etc). Another idea could be to transform the ATM into an action centre. As soon as you have recuperated your bank card, you're invited to sign a petition, to take a stand on something related to banking, etc...

Congratulations to the radical ATM team!

View other works commented by Frédéric Dubois  ››

In olden days following the agricultural revolution and the birth of civilization, we labored in the fields of the Fertile Crescent, hauling a portion of our harvest to the cities of Mesopotamia as taxes and tribute, to be recorded by the kings’ bookkeepers on clay tablets. The rest we traded or sold for money and, if the omens were favorable, we lived another year.

The basics remain present – labor, money, taxes and the forestalling of death – while much has changed. For one, the clay tablet has become our plastic card, and the bookkeeper a machine. We still line up to make an accounting, and civilization has "advanced."

(The Sumerians believed that the world was the writing of the gods; when they wanted to send a message to us mere mortals, they wrote in the form of abnormal events, or omens: an enlarged liver in an ox, the sight of a horse mounting a cow, an unusual event…)

I come to transact my business and get an accounting, and I am taken for a ride. A portentous event: bookkeeping run amok, unexpected messages, havoc in my world. What was normal no longer is, life has become something radical I must interpret as fate itself speaking to me.

What a powerful machine has been created here! To work most perfectly it must be enmeshed in our normal everyday, for that is when the unexpected message becomes most fateful. But how do we usurp the kings’ bookkeeper (without being torn apart by the royal lions)?

There is a powerful imaginary at work here, fantasizing the hijacking of our magic card with the ominous and radical signs that ensue. If it only could be... What changes when the context changes from bank to activist or art event? The normal is then already unexpected. The gods don’t speak to us then, but the prankster instead. I’m curious how far the Radical ATM has penetrated into the normal everyday, those places where we expect a correct accounting.

View other works commented by John Calvelli  ››

Like a war of tin to the best style of William Gibson, the southern cone of Latin America makes presence with this argentinean collective whose cyberpunk touch, returns us to a point of a possible war with the machines.
An ATM built of parties dissimilar and with a load of strong black humor, the users -dare I say customers- have for some time their credit or debit cards abducted while forced to endure subversive propaganda.

More than an appropriationists project or electronic art, without having interacted with it, immediately it makes me think (as colombian), in the initial terror that should cause me to know that my automatic teller takes my credit card for a few seconds… the resolution and the multiple screenshots should serve to overcome the psychological terror this eventuality could cause me.

It is worth thinking, apart from the numerous encounters in which this device has been present, in the reactions that it can cause on their users. Apart from being container of different speeches (graphics, text, videos, games), how could extend the experience to capture this corporal dimensión.

These experiences with users can even be imagined as policies of the body that would be captured by this vision machine (at the best style of Virilio), which in real time can generate new performative explorations. The deal with an ATM rebel, immediately makes me think about the possibility of being seen by that same machine… as if it had consciousness and were even tracking all my life during that time through a magnetic band.

Moreover, to involve the user, taking into account the above, could eventually be an open invitation to generate new content that before the collective did not have in mind and that may be even more radical than that witch is currently in the device.

View other works commented by Sandra Rengifo  ››

This work is just amazing - it's an A+ for me, nothing more to say! I even had the pleasure to discover it at the Subversiv Messe 2009 in Linz. I tried it and even if I knew the ATM machine was fake (because it was inside the exhibition) - i felt in love with it. I think i loved it because it's a humorous action - but also an intelligent one with a big shock moment. When your debit card get hijacked you don't know what will really happen... The machine is playing games, music etc. - but your card could get really manipulated. I think for a lot of people it's like the "Joker" - the evil laughing face. I love the symbolic of a "radical" ATM machine, an ATM machine that is not giving money but doing other things with you and it even can easily be updated (with new games, new music, new messages etc.) It's an amazing project I really would like to see it spreading all over the world!

View other works commented by Alain Bieber  ››

Other comments

Disturbances+
2 years, 11 months ago

This project contains a direct link to certain histories of tactical media or electronic disturbance. The question of rerouting and framing the conditions that ATM networks have been established and interrupting the standard condition of life being lived only at the "point of purchase."

Curators comments

This work has been commented by 4 curator(s):
Frédéric Dubois John Calvelli Sandra Rengifo Alain Bieber go to comments ›

Entry details

Title

Radical ATM Service


Headline

Debit Card Hijacker


Concept author(s)

Ivan Kozenitzky


Concept author year(s) of birth

1978


Concept author(s) contribution

I came up with the idea one afternoon while I was returning home after work. I phoned my friend Federico that is an electrical engineer to ask him if it was possible to built this and if he wanted to participate in the project. Some month later, RATM was being done.


Country

Argentina


Designer(s)

Ivan Kozenitzky, Federico Lazcano


Designer(s) year(s) of birth

1978


Designer(s) contribution

Ivan Kozenitzky designed the software and some coding. He also designed the casing prototype. Federico Lazcano designed the electronics and the Arduino coding. Devices design (mechanical components to hijack cards and deliver stickers) was made in collaboration with Federico Lazcano.


Country

Argentina


Competition category

mobilization


Competition field

nonacademic


Competition subfield

activist


Subfield description

I've been producing in alternative communication and communication guerrilla for the last 10 years. In 2002 I participated in the collective that founded Indymedia Rosario (rosario.indymedia.org) where I worked for 2 years. Then I took part in Nodo Tau (tau.org.ar), a local NGO that works with ICTs. By the same time I was a member of Cat Eaters (cateaters.org.ar), a Communication Guerrilla Workshop that made several actions, like Pinche (pinche.com.ar), Entel Vuelve (entelvuelve.com.ar) and Ingobernables (ingobernables.com.ar). During the last 2 years I've been involved in a work in progress project called Radical ATM Service (radicalatm.com.ar), a network of fake cash machines, which I'm presenting here. I’m also working in a new project called Call Center Experience!, which is about working in global call centers, that is going to see light in April this year.