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What is Bemused 90.63% Extension?

A Google Chrome extension that allows you to divert links from sites to old or broken sites. Within these sites have been modified by grafting the project manifesto through texts created by the authors and quotes from reference texts.

Download the Chrome extension here.

Created by The Virgilio team of La Scuola Open Source: Emidio Torre, Giovanni Abbatepaolo, Tommaso Guariento, Alessandro Petrone, Arianna Smaron for the squatted.online embassy of the Wrong Biennale 2020

Don’t use maps, ask for directions

"Contemplating ruins is not a journey through history, but an experience of time, of pure time. As for the past, history is too rich, too multiple and too deep to be reduced to the stone mark that emerged, a lost object like those found by archaeologists digging their slices of space-time. As for the present, the emotion is of aesthetic order, but the spectacle of nature is combined with that of the vestiges".

"Ruins exist through the gaze that rests upon them. But between their multiple pasts and their lost functionality, what one perceives of them is a kind of time outside of history to which the individual contemplating them is sensitive as if it were helping him to understand the duration that flows in him".

Bemused 90.63% as an experimental journey is possible thanks to the creation of an open-source extension that modifies website navigation. The extension has a certain probability of modifying the web pages visited by the user, redirecting all clickable links to a random selection of disused sites. Once this happens, the user begins a journey through these forgotten internet pages, which are altered by CSS transformations to emphasize their decay. To give a sense of this journey, a drunken Virgil: a red text box appears in superimposition on each site, containing quotes from various sources on issues such as getting lost, the internet, surveillance.

Long project description

Back in the old days, the Internet resembled more an unknown land than an archipelago of isolated platforms such as fortified cities. The fascination of that era was linked to a sense of discovery and disorientation: identities could be hidden and the first search engines still worked in a rudimentary way. At those times it was easy to get lost, wandering around sites with unusual graphics and unexpected colors.

The development of search, streaming, and communication platforms privatized the original experience, making it uniform, secure, and constantly monitored. Searching for information or entertainment content, talking to friends is now much more functional, and at the same time addictive and strictly controlled.

It is difficult to transpose the radical practice of squatting into a virtual space for three main reasons.

First, because there is no virtual property that is not anchored to a technological and material substratum (the servers). Secondly, because the membrane that separates on-line and off-line life has definitely disappeared. And finally, because there are fewer and fewer spaces for the collective co-management of services, and more and more interactions are mediated by huge monopolies that provide the tools and determine the interactions from above, with the precise design and programming choices.

If we compare the Internet to a large league of interconnected cities, and individual buildings to areas that can be privatized or occupied, we are missing the point. The gesture of illegal occupation, in the political movements of the 1970s, did not simply constitute a practice of re-appropriation of space, within a widespread city-works, but implied a different form of life, an operation of prefigurative politics, which installed in a temporarily autonomous area a fragment of the future that one would have liked to live.

The occupation, through the ornaments that were applied to the buildings and through the counter-cultural practices that were hosted there, made itself visible to the whole city, signaling with signs and emblems its difference from the system of citizenship and mainstream politics.

The occupation of a virtual space cannot have the same iconic force, because it would be flooded by the flow of data from millions of similar projects, disappearing into the flatness of image grids and research hierarchies.

The goal of the chaos engine is to evoke, through an extension of Google Chrome, that space of disorientation and discovery that characterized the infrastructure and aesthetics of the wild internet. Like a broken compass, or like a drunken Virgil, Chaos Engine makes you lose in the rabbit hole.

Research platforms are based on data extraction and user profiling. In this sense, in their eyes we are not individuals, but complications of desires, preferences, anxieties, fears. From this dismemberment of individuals, it is possible to govern insecurity, precariousness and the need for user communities.

On the contrary, the wild internet was populated by avatars, masks, pirates, techno-mythological creatures like viruses, and aligned itself more to the fantastic aspect of medieval maps than to the cartography of the domain of eighteenth-century urbanism.

More than pirates and adventurers, today we find ourselves living in a condition of perennial tourism: we temporarily rent houses, rent music, movies, and video games. Nothing belongs to us and at the same time, everything is at our disposal for free, provided that we use it from inside a prison cell or in the production line of a mega-factory.

If profiling kills entropy and replaces it with addictiveness, fake security and with the accuracy of the information, the extension re-injects that quantum of arbitrariness and amazement that characterized the wild internet experience.

Disused or closed sites, outdated social networks, the last pages of a Google search are digital ruins, decadent and romantically fascinating places. These monasteries, castles and virtual cemeteries are hidden and almost erased by the global mapping and enclosure operation carried out by the capital's platforms.

Rather than re-occupy these spaces, we simply want to give the possibility to make them visible, to delete and rewrite the great map of the net, a cyber-geographic drift.