Institute for Applied Autonomy

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The Institute for Applied Autonomy was an activist group of anonymous artists known for employing technology in protest. The group focused on dissemination of knowledge, autonomy, and methods of self-determination through artistic expression and application of military-like technology to the topics of Criminal Mischief, decentralized systems and individual autonomy.[1]


The Institute for Applied Autonomy was founded in 1998 as an informal research collective around the central theme of contestational robotics.[2][3][4]

Its Mission statement was to "study the forces and structures which affect self-determination and to provide technologies which extend the autonomy of human activists."[5]


One of its better known initiatives was i-See, a decentralized CCTV map distribution software containing user-generated data including positioning of surveillance cameras in New York City, as well as several other international city centers, in protest of privacy violations on the general public.[6][7]

In 2003 they took part in the Cartographic Congress organised by the University of Openess in London[8]

Their project TXTMob, a registration system for cell phones to allow protest groups rapid, anonymous communication,[9] was used during the 2004 Republican National Convention.[10] TXTMob allowed users to subscribe to groups of like-minded persons via a web interface. Once subscribed, messages sent to the group would be passed from the web to the group members' cell phones.[11] In February 2008, the New York City Law Department issued a subpoena directed to the programmer of TXTMob, asking him to reveal users of the service and contents of messages sent during the convention.[12]

Other IAA projects included the Graffiti writer and Terminal air.

All IAA artwork has been copylefted, with permission for use as long as it is attributed.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Cvar, Stacey Recht. (February 9, 2005) The Art of Sedition Cincinnati City Beat. Accessed December 14, 2007.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Leah Lievrouw (6 May 2013). Alternative and Activist New Media. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 48–. ISBN 978-0-7456-5833-9.
  4. ^ Critical Art Ensemble (1 July 2001). Digital resistance: explorations in tactical media. Autonomedia.
  5. ^ Denecke, Mathias; Ganzert, Anne; Otto, Isabell; Stock, Robert, eds. (1 February 2016). ReClaiming Participation: Technology - Mediation - Collectivity. transcript Verlag. pp. 272–. ISBN 978-3-8394-2922-8.
  6. ^ Pentland, William. (November 16, 2007) Insecurity Cameras The Nation. Accessed December 14, 2007.
  7. ^ Palmer, Brian (May 3, 2010). "Big Apple Is Watching You: How many surveillance cameras are there in Manhattan". Slate. Retrieved 2017-10-08.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Di Justo, Patrick. (September 9, 2004). Protests powered by cellphone The New York Times. Accessed December 14, 2007.
  10. ^ Matt Ratto; Megan Boler (7 February 2014). DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media. MIT Press. pp. 58–. ISBN 978-0-262-52552-7.
  11. ^ Tapio Häyhtiö (2008). Net Working/Networking: Citizen Initiated Internet Politics. University of Tampere. pp. 94–. ISBN 978-951-44-7464-4.
  12. ^ Moynihan, Colin. (March 30, 2008). City Subpoenas Creator of Text Messaging Code The New York Times. Accessed April 9, 2008.

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