a network performance as live memorial to those who have died trying to make it into Europe
A memorial in form of Open Source software that anyone can run on a local computer network. Once connected it adds the names of the victims to the "network neighborhood".
This "network neighborhood" shows you the machines that are sharing their presence on a local network. It's a functionality built into all desktop operating systems.
Often the computers are named after whoever uses them, so you can see who else is at work, even if it's physically remote from you, down the corridor, or on another office floor. The machines on the network become avatars of the people that use them.
It's this "place", intimate and abstract, that this artwork populates with the people that have died trying to make it into Europe. It adds their names – if they're known – and gives each of them the same kind of avatar presence.
It's a small intervention and only a symbolic gesture. An invitation into these very specific "neighborhoods".
Of all the migration trails in the world, the route into Europe is the most deadly. As the EU governments show no interest in ending this ongoing tragedy, or even in understanding its true extent, it is likely to remain unknown forever.
This memorial is using a database composed by the Dutch NGO UNITED for Intercultural Action called the List of Deaths. As of June 2020 it consists of more than 5000 documented incidents and 40.055 deaths. For extensive info about it, and the list itself, see http://unitedagainstrefugeedeaths.eu.
free for anyone to install and run
It is released under a free software license. The code is available on Github, alongside extensive installation information. It is possible to set up the memorial with very little coding skills.
Technically, the memorial makes use of a standard network protocol that shows available machines on a local network. A simple bash script (standard file suffix .sh) parses through the List and advertises each entry as a hostname. Due to technical limitations, only the first 63 characters of each line are shown.
Every minute a new name is set. At this rate it'll take 83 hours to show the entire list of incidents.
There are some rules: The list of incidents should not be tampered with. Once started, the memorial should be allowed to display the list at least once in its entirety.
In a display context the memorial's presence in the host institution's local network(s) needs to be made known to visitors. The host machine should be installed with a screen attached, showing the script running in real time. Additionally a Mac desktop should be set up, with "Finder" showing the host institution's changing network neighborhood.
Names/incidents show up in the local network neighborhood: screengrab-animation, showing a few incidents, sped up 12x
hosts as they appear i.e. in Ubuntu
example network traffic, two minutes capture