The Museum of Classical Malware

2016.03.29 | Jakob Gaardbo Nielsen

CRASH.COM: An example of an MS-DOS-based virus, now removed of its destructive capability but leaving its messages.

A Finnish software security expert has assembled the material for what must be one of the first museums for computer viruses. Mikko Hypponen recently explained to a Danish newspaper how the tender years of the digital revolution was a particularly creative one for malware programmers, who in those times were, supposedly, driven by creative visions, as opposed to the malicious malware schemes of today. Essentially, he describes these early viruses as crafty little works of art, as a form of “expression”, which would convey invasive yet colorful messages on the screens of infected home computers. Some were malignant, of course, but framed in a few decades’ worth of digital development, they suddenly appear quaintly aesthetic, some even weirdly beautiful. More precisely, they look like artefacts with an individual if anonymous author-programmer, that Hypponen, on his Internet Archive-platform, depicts in their immanent quality as works deserving of contemporary attention. Much like Duchamp’s ready-mades a century ago, the online museum acts as an artist-curator in itself, and displaces the visual images of computer viruses from their instrumental contexts, thus recontextualizing them as objets trouves by making them harmless yet enticing and nostalgic in an archival setting.

Sources:

The Malware Museum

Politiken 22nd february, 2016

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