SPOOK-I is a hypothetical but operative US National Security Agency inspired machine. It mimics two surveillance techniques available to the NSA Tailored Access Operations unit, in order to expose the technology employed by the control society. The work attempts to investigate the power structures and procedures of State surveillance by directly experiencing them.
SPOOK-I works as a wireless jammer¹
. The machine pushes an @nsa.gov email*
to devices nearby. The email is received only after momentarily blocking all Internet connection by jamming the WiFi signal, and after exposing the owner's name on a nearby wall, alongside a spectrogram of the network being targeted.
The machine targets nearby devices by means of software encoded in high-pitch audio signals, which are barely audible by humans but easily detected by any consumer device equipped with a set of speakers and a microphone. This is an attempt to emulate the functioning of two top secret NSA programs: CANDYGRAM and SPOOK.
The work was inspired by the leak of a classified catalog published in December 2013 by German weekly news-magazine Der Spiegel
. The documents exposed the powerful toolbox of the NSA and listed technology available to the Tailored Access Operations unit to aid in cyber surveillance.
In this sense, the work was an attempt at discussing the 'weaponization of everyday
' in the wider frame of current understanding of technology. Often presented and accepted as magical, electronic tools and services hold unequal power over us, who cannot understand, imagine nor act within the technopolitical landscape of consumer electronics in an informed manner. Furthermore, by weaponizing everyday devices such as phones, the NSA and other State agencies further deteriorate our already unequal relationship to these objects.