secret.rar – Crack Me If You Can

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The process of encrypting information to improve its security is one of the modern paradigms for shielding information from the myriad possible invisible digital eyes. Epitomized by the strategy of Wikileaks on a mass media level, the fundamental doubts about whether it is possible to effectively protect data has only been answered positively in a theoretical sense. What has been shown is that access to information is not just a technological issue, as the history of cyphering appears to prove, but one intimately connected to social, psychological and physical elements. Nevertheless, technical concerns still play an important role in both the collective understanding of security and in the always shifting limits of digital technologies. secret.rar by Jan Huijben takes these processes to the very extreme. Starting with a ‘file’ (a name which not only maintains secrecy but has symbolic value), the artist has encrypted it with an almost un-decryptable randomly generated complex password, before shifting attention to other media. It is then cast in layers of resin, concrete, lead, and then locked inside a password-protected suitcase, before being placed within one of multiple identical wooden crates. What Huijben shows are the first steps of a potentially infinite process, creating more of a philosophical project than a pure piece of artwork. In fact the process he carefully realized could go on forever, including more iterations of both digital encryptions and encapsulations within physical media. But none of this would add anything crucial to the already almost impossible-to-access ‘file’ (although the project documentation ends with a “to be continued” warning), since what has been excellently represented is exactly #the elusive limit between what a human being can do to know#, with or without proper technology (no matter how sophisticated they are). Alessandro Ludovico