Compare and contrast

April 20th, 2012 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

People think I’m completely evil and what I’m doing is completely immoral, but at the end of the day I feel like I’m just educating people on technology.

That’s Hunter Moore, founder of ‘revenge porn’ site IsAnyOneUp, as quoted by the BBC. Compare that with the rationale provided for an ‘art’ exhibition currently showing in London:

Two Italian-born artists are showing off more than 10,000 private photographs they claim to have stolen from random people’s hard drives, part of an exhibit that also features fragments cut, torn or chipped off of iconic works by Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons.

The loot from the art-minded crime spree is intended to raise questions about what’s private, what’s public, and what makes art “art,” said curator Barbara Rodriguez Munoz, who gave The Associated Press a tour of London’s Carroll/Fletcher gallery on Thursday.

The Moore defense is one of several rather random claims made – that he avoids passing judgement (just as his most recent hosting company claims to ‘remain neutral’ on their clients’ activities), that while some are upset it provides entertainment for others, that if he weren’t doing it someone else would, and that he’s ‘just a businessman’ exploiting a market opportunity.

The artists are making a more targeted claim – that framing the project as ‘art’ with the purpose of ‘making us think’ excuses the illegal and unethical methods used to obtain their content, and the arguably voyeuristic nature of their product. But is there really that much of a difference between their claims and those of Moore, or are they both self-serving excuses for ‘doing what I want, for my benefit’, whether that benefit be advertising revenue or an artistic profile?

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