• biggs echelon
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This work was made in response to a call by Metamute (London) for Jam Echelon Day 2001. It simply employs all the words stored in the Echelon system in a program that automatically generates texts using whatever dictionary it has available.

Whenever a user moves their mouse over a text it will automatically re-write itself as a new text. It will then e-mail that text to a random e-mail address (this last e-mailing component of the work is currently disabled, but will be enabled by the artist at the appropriate time - the effect will be to flood the net with echelon sensitive messages at the rate of hundreds per minute, depending on user interaction).

Echelon is the worldwide signals intelligence network run by the US National Security Agency and the UK Government Communications Headquarters in collaboration with Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Echelon uses large ground-based radio antennae in the United States, Italy, the UK, Turkey, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and several other countries to intercept satellite transmissions and some surface traffic, as well as employing satellites to tap transmissions between cities.

Echelon is reportedly capable of interecepting large portions of the world's communications, including phone conversations, email and SMS. It uses dictionaries to search for keywords that various security services consider to be of interest. Under the ECHELON system, a particular station's dictionary computer contains not only its parent agency's chosen keywords, but also a list for each of the other four agencies. Each station collects all the telephone calls, faxes, telexes, emails, internet traffic and other communications that pass through it and compares them against this list of keywords.

This work uses similar grammar software to that used in The Great Wall of China. (source:
  • subjects
    • Society and Culture
      • entertainment
        • games
  • technology
    • interfaces
Technology & Material

a webwork by
Simon Biggs

artist's statement

Collection of Doron Golan, New York

A Little Pig Production

If you do not have Shockwave you might like to download it.

copyright 2001

exhibited at
Digital Arts Museum, Berlin, Germany, 2006
Screenshot(s), Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, UK, 2005