Author: !Mediengruppe Bitnik
Where: Festival Centre, Art_Inkubator, Tymienieckiego Str. 3, room number 16 [B16]
The Random Darknet Shopper directly connects the exhibition space with the darknet. For three months, !Mediengruppe Bitnik sent an automated online shopping bot on a shopping expedition into the darknet once a week. With a weekly budget of USD 100 in Bitcoins, the bot randomly chose one item from around 16'000 articles online and had it sent directly to the exhibition space. Random Darknet Shopper - The Bot's collection shows the 25 items which the Random Darknet Shopper purchased between October 2014 and March 2016 for the exhibitions at Kunst Halle St. Gallen, Horatio Junior Gallery London and Aksioma Institute for Contemporary Art Ljubljana.
«There’s just one problem», The Washington Post wrote in January 2015 about the work, «recently, it bought 10 ecstasy pills». In its review, The Guardian asked: «Can a robot, or a piece of software, be jailed if it commits a crime? Where does legal culpability lie if code is criminal by design or default?».
These global questions were negotiated locally after the closing of the exhibition, when the public prosecutor's office of St. Gallen seized the work. The Random Darknet Shopper was finally released three months later together with the order for withdrawal of prosecution. All items were returned to !Mediengruppe Bitnik except for the Ecstasy, which was tested positive for MDMA by the authorities, and then destroyed. The Random Darknet Shopper and !Mediengruppe Bitnik were cleared of all charges and the public prosecutor affirmed that the possession of Ecstasy was indeed a reasonable means for the purpose of sparking public debate about questions related to the exhibition.