Ian Alan Paul

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ian Alan Paul
Ian Alan Paul Morocco.jpg
Born 1984
San Francisco, California
Nationality American
Education MFA/MA San Francisco Art Institute, BA University of California, Santa Cruz
Known for Intervention, New Media Art, and Net Art

Ian Alan Paul (born October 17, 1984) is an American transdisciplinary artist, theorist, and curator whose projects and writing engage in contemporary debates concerning politics, aesthetics, technology, and ethics. He works in a diversity of media, including but not limited to digital video, photography, databases, and projection.


Ian Alan Paul was born in San Francisco in 1984. He received his MFA and MA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2011,[1] and is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz in Film and Digital Media.[2]


Paul has worked as part of the faculty at the American University in Cairo and at UC San Diego. In addition, he has given lectures at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Art Institute, CCA, and Duke University and has taken part in residencies such as the Headlands Center for the Arts, UC Berkeley Center for New Media, and BANG Lab. He has lectured and given workshops on topics as diverse as aesthetics, politics, metaphysics, ethics, feminist and queer theory, science and technology studies, and art history.


E-Graffiti: Texts in Mourning and Action[edit]

In collaboration with Ricardo Dominguez and the Electronic Disturbance Theater, and in response to the political assassination of Galeano in Chiapas, Mexico, Ian Alan Paul developed a new form of Electronic Civil Disobedience that was used as part of a distributed online performance on May 24, 2014 as part of the week of action and day of remembrance in solidarity with the Zapatista communities.[3]

When users logged on to the project website, their web browsers sent mass amounts of page requests to the server of the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, filling their error logs with lines of text drawn from Don Quixote, communiques from the Zapatista communities, as well as from texts authored by the Critical Art Ensemble. As a kind of E-Graffiti and form of Electronic Civil Disobedience, floods of HTTP traffic were sent from around the world as the books and communiques were written onto the error logs of their servers several thousand times by different users.

Drone Crash Incident[edit]

In collaboration with Ricardo Dominguez, Ian Alan Paul staged a simulated drone crash on the University of California, San Diego campus while he was faculty there in 2012. The drone crash, as a form of critical fiction or disturbance theater, was enacted over the course of one week through the release of press statements, documents, photographs, and other forms of ‘evidence’ which were published and distributed in various media in and around San Diego and culminated in a public town hall to discuss the crash with students, faculty and various members of the public.

The drone crash simulation was covered by the Huffington Post,[4] Boing Boing,[5] and NBC.[6] Before the town hall, University of California officials disavowed the occurrence of any drone crash and denied the existence of the UC Center for Drone Policy and Ethics, the fake organization that had organized the town call. At the town hall event, Ricardo Dominguez and Ian Alan Paul presented records of the crash and discussed various theoretical and political concepts related to drones, as well as discussed the research and production of military drones in San Diego and on UCSD’s campus which was followed by a wider discussion among those who attended.

The Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History[edit]

In 2012, Paul launched the Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History in collaboration with several other artists. The Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History is a virtual museum located at the former site of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba. The museum features an array of contemporary art exhibitions, public programs, and a center for critical studies that are all freely accessible on the institution’s website. The museum was featured in The Atlantic,[7] by the Agence France-Presse,[8] and the Brazilian paper Estadão de São Paulo.[9] Alexis Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic, describes the project this way:

“While creating imaginary entities is a tried-and-true protest technique, its application in this specific case is brilliant. Gitmo is a peculiar invention that only exists thanks to a tangle of legal rulings that allow Americans to pretend that Gitmo is not a part of America, even though it’s governed and controlled by Americans. No one really gets to see the place, as reporters’ and other visitors’ experiences are crafted by the authorities. The detention camp, as a place where people are held and interrogated, remains an imaginary place for all but the prisoners and the national security officials who operate it. The imaginary museum draws its power from this resonance: If Gitmo exists because of one fiction, perhaps it can be closed by another? Or put another (augmented) way, germane to this digital project: if we change Gitmo’s website, can it actually change its physical and legal reality? That’s what the museum’s organizers are hoping.”[7]

The project was the result of large collaboration, with over 25 artists, writers and other volunteers contributing to the project in some way from Europe, North and South America. Visitors to the museum are invited to plan their trip to Guantanamo Bay, become a member of the museum, apply to be an artist in residence, as well as read about the history of the museum itself.

The Do Not Kill Registry[edit]

In 2012, Paul launched The Do Not Kill Registry in response to news that the U.S. was maintaining an active kill list for its drone program. The project was covered by USA Today,[10] Slashdot,[11] and the Toronto Star.[12] The website states:

"While the use of drones is intentionally not bound by international treaties or constitutional limits, we simultaneously understand the urgent need to develop and enforce new ethical frameworks as drone use becomes more commonplace as a tool of U.S. foreign policy. Through an active collaboration between N.E.D.H.I., the brave pilots and operators of the U.S. drone program, and the American public, we believe that we can find the political and moral solutions needed to both protect the security of the United States while also satisfying the concerns of the broader global community.The Do Not Kill Registry, our first public program, has started us on that path towards new solutions and will help give people around the world the peace of mind urgently needed during these times of escalating drone conflict. While what the future holds for the U.S. drone program remains uncertain, you can rest safely knowing that we will continue to diligently review and monitor the national drone kill list in order to ensure proper cautionary measures are taken while also continuing to take advantage of the military effectiveness of targeted drone strikes on militants around the world."[13]

The website allows users to register as a member of the official registry, as well as read about the controversy surrounding the use of drones in war.

Border Haunt[edit]

In 2011, Paul developed "Border Haunt". As part of the online performance on July 15, 2011 organized by Paul, 667 people from 28 different countries participated in the online collective action that targeted the surveillance systems of the U.S.-Mexico border. Participants collected entries from a database that holds the names and descriptions of migrants that died trying to cross the border territory and then sent those entries into a database used to police the border. As a result, the border was conceptually and symbolically haunted for the duration of the one-day action as the border policing structure received over 1,000 reports of deceased migrants attempting to cross the border. Border Haunt was covered by Al Jazeera English[14] and The Bay Citizen.[15]


External links[edit]