Research Critique: The Pirate Cinema

“In the context of omnipresent telecommunications surveillance, “The Pirate Cinema” makes the hidden activity and geography of Peer-to-Peer file sharing visible.”- The Pirate Cinema

The pirate cinema is created by an automated system that downloads continually the most popular torrents and shows snippets of these video files which are being shared peer-to-peer throughout the world from The Pirate Bay on a screen.


In the Installation it allows you to sit and watch the data flows in real time. It make what was previously invisible, visible and allows the viewer to almost become a part of the flow. To sit and watch the dubiously legal sharing of files and see where they come from and where they go to and what is being sent, is like a kind of surveillance, spying on other people’s activity without them knowing.

When I watched the Online Version I ended up watching it for at least 10 minutes. I felt it was so fascinating and it put me in a trance like state, reminding me of switching between tumblr, facebook, emails, and youtube to find something new or updated, or perhaps flicking through the channels on a TV. It was also interesting to see how it is so global, people from the US sharing to Serbia without them even knowing where exactly it’s going. It also made me want to download a torrent and see if I could get my IP address to come up.

“The geographical aspect of the project is key in activating the imagination, but also in developing a critical view of consumption areas by file. A text indicating both the geographical origin of the peer who issued this fragment, and the geographical destination of the peer who received it is overlaid on each video excerpt.” – Nicolas Maigret

I felt this quote was particularly interesting as it talks about collapsing space. Like at the time of viewing you are watching data which is both where you are viewing it, the country of origin and the country it’s going to at the same time.

The fusion of geographically dispersed artists and audiences is realized through broadcasted projects that join local viewers and online audiences in what we refer to as a shared, electronic “third space.”- Randall Packer

She also talks about the legality of the piece and how it has been created in a way which still protects the torrenters from being compromised through encryption and the short time frame the data is actually on the computers (they are immediately discarded). She also says how the piece itself is so global that it is hard to prosecute.


Published by


I'm supposed to write something funny here but...

One thought on “Research Critique: The Pirate Cinema”

  1. Fascinating analysis of Pirate Cinema. You’ll have to share with us your 10 minute experience of “riding the torrent.” I’ll be interested in your view of the idea of media saturation, an idea I address with

Leave a Reply