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'The Pirate Cinema' snoops on torrent downloads in the name of art

A thought-provoking art installation flashes clips from downloaded video torrents onto giant projector screens in real time, producing an effect similar to the ending of the classic 1983 flick "War Games."

What, me worry? Nicolas Maigretto

The Pirate Cinema chaotically visualizes the most popular video torrent files found on The Pirate Bay in a mesmerizing and sometimes visually overwhelming way.

Created by artist Nicolas Maigretto and programmed by Brendan Howell, the cinematic collage involves a custom-programmed box that intercepts real-time peer-to-peer file sharing among the top 100 torrent files (on The Pirate Bay) and projects flashes of the actively downloaded video content on one of three screens.

After entering a dimly lit room, visitors to the exhibit sit down and observe the projector screens, which show brief clips of movie, television, and music video content culled from real-time traffic. User IP addresses and locations of the downloader hang above each video.

"This immediate and fragmentary rendering of digital activity, with information concerning its source and destination, thus depicts the topology of digital-media consumption and uncontrolled content dissemination in a connected world," Maigretto noted on The Pirate Cinema Web site.

The Pirate Cinema ran for several weeks in May at the Eastern Bloc arts exhibition center in Montreal, Canada.