Paolo Cirio

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Paolo Cirio
Born Paolo Cirio
Turin, Italy
Nationality Italian
Education University of Turin
Known for Contemporary art, conceptual art, installation art, intervention art, performance art, Infiltration Art, net art, street art, tactical media, sculpture, hacktivism, culture jamming, transmedia storytelling
Notable work(s) Loophole for All, Persecuting.US, Street Ghosts, Hacking Monopolism Trilogy, Face to Facebook, Amazon Noir, Google Will Eat Itself (GWEI), P2P Gift Credit Card, Open Society Structures, Recombinant Fiction, The Big Plot, People Quote People

Paolo Cirio is a contemporary artist renown for his controversial and innovative artworks.

Cirio artistically intervenes in fields such as copyright, privacy, transparency, finance, democracy, militarism, cyber-security, and experimental fiction.

Biography and Career[edit]

In 2013, Cirio investigated offshore financial systems with the project Loophole for All. [1] The project made public the list of all the companies registered in the Cayman Islands for the first time, exposing tax evasion practices by counterfeiting Certificate of Incorporation documents. This information was published on the website, engaging international participation through selling the real identities of anonymous Cayman companies for 99 cents, which elicited reactions from Cayman authorities, global banks as well as legal threats by international law and accounting firms and local businesses.[1] After three weeks of selling conceptual and subversive artworks in the form of limited editions of firms’ identities, PayPal suspended the account, claiming the sales activity was in violation of PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy.[2][3] The performance generated national and international media attention. Loophole for All has been exhibited in museums such as the ZKM in Karlsruhe, the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, and CCC Strozzina in Florence. In 2014 Loophole for All project won the Golden Nica, first prize of Prix Ars Electronica.

Already in 2010, Cirio worked on structured finance in reaction to the late-2000s financial crisis. This has resulted in the piece P2P Gift Credit Card - Gift Finance. Cirio issued thousands of counterfeited illicit VISA credit cards[4] in order to design a visionary monetary policy, named "Gift Finance," which is meant to be a participative and interest-free basic income guarantee system.[5] Cirio has presented numerous lectures about his theories on critical finance and Gift Finance. In 2012, he was invited to curate a panel about alternative economic models for Creative Destruction, an exhibition organized by the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program that addressed the economic recession and the related Occupy Wall Street protests.

Since 2011, Cirio has been addressing the cultural shift and mainstream media attention toward popular perceptions of privacy and ownership of public and personal information, with the projects Street Ghosts, Persecuting.US and Face to Facebook.

Street Ghosts recontextualized photos of individuals found on Google Street View, by printing and posting life-sized pictures of people in the exact location where they were taken. The posters were wheatpasted on the walls of public buildings without authorization. These interventions took place in public spaces of several major cities, including London, Berlin, and New York. The project generated worldwide media attention, and was also featured in specialist magazines devoted to architecture, design, art, and photography. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

Persecuting.US profiled the political affiliations of over one million Americans who used Twitter during the months leading up to the United States presidential election of 2012. Privately stealing and then sifting through data from Twitter, Cirio algorithmically determined users’ political affiliations. All of their information can be found on [9].

In 2011, Cirio created Face to Facebook with Alessandro Ludovico. [10] For this piece, Cirio scraped one million Facebook profiles, filtered them with facial recognition software and published them onto, [11] a mock dating website designed by Cirio, sorting the profiles according to facial expressions. This resulted in eleven lawsuit threats, five death threats, [12] and four cease and desist letters from Facebook. [13] Within a few days, the project was covered by more than a thousand media outlets from around the world, [14] including CNN,[6] Apple Daily (Hong Kong), Fox News, Tagesschau (Germany), Der Spiegel, USA Today, The Independent, Haaretz (Israel), and The Age (Australia).

To criticize the abuse of copyright laws for the protection of digital content, Cirio created the project Amazon Noir [15] in collaboration with Alessandro Ludovico and Ubermorgen in 2006. He eluded the protection from with internet bots using the front door of the "search inside" service. He scraped complete texts of books, reassembled them into PDF files and illegally redistributed them for free. [16] The company refused to comment on the action.[7]

In 2005, Cirio worked on the project Google Will Eat Itself (GWEI) in conjunction with Alessandro Ludovico and Ubermorgen. This project questioned the monopoly of Google and its revenue model. Cirio hacked Google's AdSense service by creating internet bots generating a click fraud in order to buy Google's share by its own money stolen through the fraudulent scheme. In an attempt to stop the project, Google sent a cease and desist letter. [17]

Face to Facebook, Amazon Noir and Google Will Eat Itself together form the Hacking Monopolism Trilogy. [18] [8][9] Exploiting the technical and economic vulnerabilities of three major Internet companies at the height of their expansion, the three works that comprise this trilogy reconfigure and conceptualize the way that Internet giants concentrate, misappropriate, and monetize public and personal information.

Since 2009, Cirio has been working with experimental storytelling which involves actors and audiences generating and presenting real and fictional stories across various media platforms. He has been developing a new method tactical fiction,[10] called "Recombinant Fiction." [19] This political genre of transmedia storytelling has resulted in two projects: Drowning NYC (2010) and The Big Plot (2009). Cirio has presented his theories and related projects at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, [20] the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, [21] the LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, [22] the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts, [23] and the Rotterdam Film Festival [24]. Cirio has developed an in-depth workshop program, entitled Tactical Transmedia Fiction, that he leads internationally.

In 2004, Cirio joined the Illegal Art Show network, which organized street art happenings in Italy in line with the Temporary Autonomous Zone-philosophy. They occupied public spaces and invited artists to create artwork. Cirio created several street art works[11] and organized three such events independently: two in Turin in 2004 [25] and a third in London in 2005 [26].

In 2002, Cirio staged his first international media disturbance called Anti-Nato Day, considered an act of Hacktivism. It took on the shape of a virtual sit-in (DDoS attack) in the NATO website through a Flash Player script. The Canadian Department of National Defence investigated the action[12] and the Eisenhower Institute used it as a case study to identify future vulnerabilities in space security.[13] Cirio promoted the action through an anti-war web portal called, which he designed and updated periodically until 2006.

Cirio has collaborated also with various artists and collectives, such as RTMark, [27] Stewart Home [28] and Bruce Sterling. He was also part of the Italian collective [epidemiC].[14]

List of works[edit]


Selected awards include:


  1. ^ Paolo Cirio (2014). Transmediale 2014 afterglow - Uses and Abuses of Big Data. Transmediale. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  2. ^ Laura Flanders (April 15, 2013). "Tax Loopholes for All!". The Nation. 
  3. ^ Yanyan Huang (January 7, 2014). "Paolo Cirio Discovers a Tax Loophole for All". The Wild. 
  4. ^ Lechner, Marie (2011-05-07). "Credit Revolver". Libération. p. 10. 
  5. ^ Tatiana, Bazzichelli (2011-04-15). "When stealing becomes art". p. 1. 
  6. ^ Allsop, Laura (2011-02-11). "Art 'hacktivists' take on Facebook". CNN. p. 1. 
  7. ^ Transcript from the lecture delivered at the University Paris 8 on 4 January 2012.
  8. ^ Cantz, Hatje (2011). ORIGIN. Linz: Ars Electronica. p. 168. ISBN 9783775731805. 
  9. ^ Cirio, Paolo and Alessandro Ludovicio. 2013. The hacking monopolism trilogy. ISEA International.
  10. ^ Campanini, Cristiana (2010). Antologia della webletteratura. Italy: Il Foglio Letterario. ISBN 9788876062643. 
  11. ^ Ullrich, Andreas (2006). International Sticker Award. Berlin: Wildsmile Studios. ISBN 978-3-89955-151-8. 
  12. ^ IWS INFOCON (30 May 2002). "OCIPEP Daily Brief Number: DOB02-071". The Information Warfare Site. 
  13. ^ Eisenhower Institute (2004). Space Security 2013. Washington, D.C,: Eisenhower Institute. p. 159. ISBN 0920231365. 
  14. ^ Brouwer, Joke, and Arjen Mulder. 2007. Interact or die!: Dutch Electronic Art festival 2007. Rotterdam: Uitgeverij NAi.


Andrews, Lori B. I know who you are and I saw what you did: social networks and the death of privacy. New York: Free Press, 2012. ISBN 9781451650518.

Arévalo, Denisse A. Creative Destruction. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 2012. Exhibition catalogue. ISBN 0874271592.

Barbeni, Luca. Fino alla fine del cinema. Bologna: CLUEB, 2010. ISBN 9788849134117.

Bazzichelli, Tatiana and Geoff Cox. Disrupting Business. Autonomedia, DATA browser 05 (2013). ISBN 9781570272646.

Cecchi, Alberto. NMD: New media design : le nuove frontiere dell'arte. Mantova: Sometti, 2008. ISBN 9788874952748.

Cirio, Paolo and Alessandro Ludovicio. 2013. The hacking monopolism trilogy. ISEA International.

Cleland, Kathy, Laura Fisher, and Ross Harley. ISEA2013, Resistance is futile. International Symposium of Electronic Art: Sydney, 2013. ISBN 9780646913131.

Colson, Richard. The fundamentals of digital art. Lausanne: AVA Academia, 2007. ISBN 2940373582.

Crommelin, Claude. 2013. New Street Art. London: Vivays Publishing. ISBN 9781908126511.

Draganovic, Julia. L'impresa dell'arte = The Enterprise of Art. Napoli : Electa Napoli, 2008. Exhibition catalogue. ISBN 9788851005313.

Dragona, Daphne. Tag Ties and Affective Spies. Athens: National Museum of Contemporary Art, 2008. Exhibition catalogue. ISBN 9789608349360.

Gerosa, Mario. Parla come navighi: antologia della webletteratura italiana. Piombino (Livorno): Il foglio, 2010. ISBN 9788876062643.

Guadagnini, Walter, and Franziska Nori. Territori instabili/Unstable Territory. Mandragora: Florence, 2013. ISBN 9788874612147.

Håvarstein, Maiken Fosen and Carsten Ohlman. Å bade i bilder. Norway, 2013. ISBN 9788249215430.

Hur, Suhjung. Connected. Seoul: Art Center Nabi, 2007. Exhibition catalogue. ISBN 804140638.

International Symposium on Electronic Art. Uncontainable: 17th International Symposium on Electronic Art, ISEA2011 Istanbul, 14 September - 20 November 2011. London: Goldsmiths College, 2011. ISBN 9781906897192.

Kognitif. CREATICITY. Spain: LEMO, 2013. ISBN 9788494115417.

Lovink, Geert, and Miriam Rasch. Unlike us reader: social media monopolies and their alternatives. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2013. ISBN 9789081857529.

Moulon, Dominique. Art contemporain, nouveaux médias. Paris: Nouvelles éd. Scala, 2011. ISBN 9782359880380.

Nagle, Joe. How to Enjoy Contemporary Art Some Explanations to Help You. Elgan Publishing Limited, 2013. ISBN 9780992749507.

New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York, N.Y.). Younger than Jesus artist directory: the essential handbook to a new generation of artists. London: Phaidon, 2009. ISBN 9780714849812.

Paul, Christiane. Digital art. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2015.

Schäfer, Mirko Tobias. Bastard culture! user participation and the extension of cultural industries. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2010. ISBN 9789048513154.

Shikata, Yukiko. Connecting Worlds: NTT InterCommunication Center, September 15-November 25, 2006. Tokyo: InterCommunication Center, 2006. Exhibition catalogue. ISBN 9784757170339.

External links[edit]