“Pirates of the Amazon” was an artistic parody, part of a media research and developed at the Media Design M.A. course at the Piet Zwart Institute of the Willem de Kooning Academy Hogeschool Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Under the supervision of our tutor Denis Jaromil Rojo and former course director Florian Cramer.
It was a practical experiment on interface design, information access and currently debated issues in media culture. The work received strong reactions for instance one day after publishing it received a take down request by the legal department of Amazon.com. Dutch anti-piracy foundation Brein supposedly also requested the Rotterdam University to remove the controversial add on from the internet. The Rotterdam University decided to concede to these demands.
Ultimately, the value of the project lies in the strong reactions that were provoked. It was a ready-made and social sculpture of contemporary internet user culture.
Edward Shanken responded to this work on the net time mailinglist:
“Regarding “critical scholarly work on the internet,” Pirates of the Amazon seems a bit “lite” to warrant such a lofty moniker. It is a clever exercise/hack that demonstrates what anyone who is net-savvy already knows. Maybe I’m being too critical. Nonetheless, as a form of creative expression, I agree with Tobias’s point about the importance of it being protected from censorship. If there is a critical scholarly moment to be identified here, I believe it pertains to questions of the censorship of particular types of software. If they were my students, I would encourage them to take that as the starting point of their next project.”