_ ABSTRACT
_ DATASCULPTURE

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Built with Processing

ABSTRACT

Everytime when I login into to my mailbox, it is there, a moment of little excitement, just before opening. Will I have a new message or not. The tension between hope and disappointment lies in the duration of just one click – INBOX open! – Again, just spam??? Not one day, sometimes not even one hour passes without receiving a new message from the world of spammers. Of course I'm annoyed, I'm not interested in them, I don't read them and I don't want them. Maybe one day they become less. Maybe, if, at last, no one reacts on bulk emails anymore, if nobody orders tons of Viagra secretly or buys the cheap stockes anymore. Then spammers wouldn't have any reason anymore to continue their business. But, I suspect, this will not happen. Therefor I have no other option either I can ignore them or I will start to work with them.

Bulk emails are messages which were sent unsolicited and which could also be sent in the same style countless to many other addresses. They mostly appear in form of advertising messages for dubious products (like Viagra pills imitations or low stocks), as chain letters or masked as official bank requests to submit your PIN. Masked as harmless messages, often with fraudulent intentions, the aim of the spammer is to pass the email filter systems and to smuggle the message into our postbox. In order to succeed, spammer use all kinds of formal tricks to handle the methods of emailfilter software cleverly. This starts with the choice of the words in the subject line which often doesn't have any reference to the messages' content or even consists of randomly chosen characters for instance. Looking at the content of a bulk email, it is often the same, it is a mystery for the reader. Text are reduced up to a minimum of humans perception or enhanced by useless additional content, like random composed snippets of daily news or parts of novels. It might remind to dada lyrics, but with one important difference. In early ages dada lyrics used deconstruction on purpose. The reduction of language beyond of the meaning of words to the pure sound of words and texts. „The lyrics of bulk emails“ made up, just to get over technical barriers. Dada was done by human with a purpose, bulk email text are „composed“ by machines but without any meaning or purpose in the language. Another popular filtertrick, e.g. is to integrate the real written information as text graphics, so that the character recognition of the filtersoftware can't check the content anymore. Insofar, talking about the aesthetics of spam means first talking about technical tricks on how to deal with the current security settings of email filter software. Therefor aesthetics are just means to an end, generated by technical necessity, nothing more.

DATASCULPTURE

Lovely spam deals with the daily income of bulk emails of one specific email postbox. Thereby only such messages are considered, which has been already tagged as spam by the email provider. I developed a programm in Processing that – as soon as a new message arrives on the email server – first analyzes and then transforms each incoming bulk email into a typographical representation. The image of each individual message is embedded into a larger image of already existing messages. A growing text sculpture gets built up and changes constantly, controlled by coming and going of the messages. The representation of each bulk mail will be visible just for a limited time of 14 days on screen.

Little by little characters disappear and the message gets fragmented. Literally, it goes to ruin, very slowly and bit by bit. Finally, after two weeks, the message disappears completly from the screen, but not only visually, it will be deleted on the emailserver as well. If you look at bulk emails under terms of content, the portion of useful information is negligible. Address data as well as content are mostly faked or covered up. Only links are the parts that contain relevant information. Links can be seen as the only reference to a presumed real sponsor or to an existing product, often they are just the only useable information for the receiver. In the visual process they get processed differently. In contrast to the decomposing of the remaining message, links always persist unfragmented as left traces to the net.
As a result of the messages' decomposing, the links as constant information will more and more come to the fore.

The textscultpture of lovelyspam is composed along a horizontal line, that represents the period of one calendar month. Bulk emails that receive at the beginning of a month will be shown on the left side of the screen. The older the month, the further right the individual message will appear in the large image. As an indicator to an assumed content of the message, the emailtext will be analyzed for specific keywords. Those ones belong to certain categories to the most common spamtopics like gambling, porn and potency pills, stocks, jobs&educatio, watches and software). Each category will be represented by a certain colorcode.