Research: Pirate Cinema by Nicholas Maigret,


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      The imperfections allow to identify a medium, in the style of glass becoming visible by the accumulated dusts and scratches.
      – Nicolas Maigret

Nicolas Maigret is an interactive artist who loves to experiment with the capacity and push the boundaries of technology.

THE PIRATE CINEMA from N1C0L45 M41GR3T on Vimeo.

Every single day, web searches, movies, videos, music, apps and porn fly through the ‘internet highway’. Content is silently shared by millions of people around the world through the comfort of their own homes. Maigret wondered what this ‘internet highway’ might look like and as a result of his curiosity, The Pirate Cinema Installation was conceptualized.

People from all around the world have access to information like never before. Peer-to-peer sharing, although controversial, is rampant. Users share files from their computer and the data is transferred in fragments onto someone else’s computer via Torrents on Piratebay.

BGLzLp5CIAAfekaWhat a torrent download page looks like. FUN FACT: This is Pirate Bay’s oldest torrent file, the pioneer for millions to come.

In the installation, Maigret makes use of an automated data interception software of the same name that continually downloads the 100 most popular torrents on the Pirate Bay website. This software collects the geographical data information of the sender and the receiver of these torrents and the info is displayed on the screengrabs.


The data collected is then immediately projected in fragments onto a screen before being discarded. This is largely because downloading torrents is not a linear process. The completion of a file is done in a disorderly manner and at an an irregular rate.

As a result, it shows us the different aspects of hidden activity, the geography of peer-to-peer file sharing and the aesthetic dimension of its architecture. This depicts to us the amount and  data and information dissemination in a world that is connected via the internet. The remote users are unknowingly creating an endless collage via what they chose to download from BitTorrents. This reveals to us the scale of the mass-sharing culture.

While peer-to-peer file-sharing of copyrighted materials is controversial, Maigret simply accepts file-sharing culture for what it is. In the end, ethics and ethos aside, The Pirate Cinema is indeed an interesting installation and experience.

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4 thoughts on “Research: Pirate Cinema by Nicholas Maigret,

  1. Mj Quek

    I found Maigret’s Pirate Cinema Installation to be quite disturbing because it is able to show information that are usually hidden from the public eye – mainly the geographical information of the sender and receiver of the torrent.

    Other than that, the Pirate Cinema is a haunting masterpiece because it really shows the depth of information behind the rather fragmented world of torrents. Like you mentioned, torrenting isn’t a linear process due to the fragmented downloading process that is involved. The beauty lies in how each individual fragment of data information can reveal things, such as the average internet user’s behavioural patterns etc.

    It is stunning to witness how we ignore the amount of data we leak out with each torrent that we download.

    • rznrhm

      Yup, couldn’t agree with you more MJ. I find it really scary how people can manipulate files to anonymously collect data like that. Should this knowledge fall into the wrong hands, just imagine how people can easily get access to personal and even private information. :/

      • sharanya003

        Scary indeed! The fact that Maigrat could gain access to our location and IP addresses, leaves me wondering how much info the powers-that-be can extract. There is practical use for this data in the most unexpected ways though. I went to this Big Data conference sometime in May, where there we discussions on this, like how mobile data could have applications in health communication and pandemic control. Then again, I think it be dangerous to unquestioningly trust people in power.

  2. The Pirate Cinema reminds of writings by Dziga Vertov who coined “kino-eye” and wrote in 1929:

    “Kino-eye = kino-seeing (I see through the camera) + kino-writing (I write on film with the camera) + kino-organization (I edit).” … “Kino-Eye means the conquest of space, the visual linkage of people throughout the entire world based on the continuous exchange of visible fact” … “Kino-Eye is the possibility of seeing life processes in any temporal order or at any speed” … “Kino-Eye uses every possible means in montage, comparing and linking all points of the universe in any temporal order, breaking, when necessary, all the laws and conventions of film construction.”

    Maybe the other eye of a pirate is exhibited collectively in The Pirate Cinema.

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