Scraping Art - Mapping the Neuland

Scraping Art discusses the politics behind the live installation Air Water Stack and how to hack your way into video streaming.

Web scraping is a technique to algorithmically scavenge websites for information, images and videos. The place where this data harvest is taking part is the stack, or the internet. The Stack has become a new site of power, a transnational layer of control. Internet infrastructures allow for new modes of control which act outside of the realm of nation states. Due to its planetary scale infrastructure the Stack holds a governing function. Web scraping can be used as a tool to visualize the constantly changing present of this new territory or the “Neuland,” as Angela Merkel has called it.

The “Neuland” is more familiar to us than to conservative politicians beyond 50, but its constant way of updating itself and extending makes it a territory which can never be fully grasped. New technologies, new ways of encryption, faster chips render the old ones obsolete and constantly change the political playing field. The answer to the question of who governs and controls, who sits in the center of the panopticon changes with every new feature. The Internet is no longer an anarchist playground, but it is also still far away from being a unison virtual shopping mall. Scraping a fraction of it to expose its infrastructures shows us the messiness of online power struggles.

On the more technical side we will explain how we are using scrapers to get live data, streams and simulations. Here the dinosaur brain of a C programmer meets the simplicity of Python. We will talk about why giving up on the ego-shot you get doing everything yourself C-style is the way forward and how to hack your way into video streaming and using Selenium, an ugly solution rendered beautifully with Open GL.