The Random Darknet Shopper is a very simple project. It’s an automated piece of software that’s instructed to randomly purchase an item from the darkweb every day, and have that item delivered to an art gallery.
Whatever shows up – be that guns, drugs or worse – becomes a unique instillation in a completely random foray into the seedier side of the internet.
If you’ve made the (wise) decision not to venture into the darknet / darkweb (not to be confused with the much tamer deep web) it’s the unlisted part of the internet, not normally reachable and used for complete freedom. That freedom is most famously used for the distribution of illegal items and services, and entire markets have sprung up to supply everything illicit.
The Random Darknet Shopper was activated for a Swiss art exhibition, where it was given $100 (R1 446) in Bitcoins per week to buy absolutely anything.
The result? Knockoff Nike shoes, fake designer jeans, cigarettes … and ecstasy. When that purchase was made police seized the purchased items as well as the laptop used to make them. Everything was returned to the artists Domagoj Smoljo and Carmen Weisskopf, apart from the drugs, when police deemed the endeavour “a valid art project”.
— !Mediengruppe Bitnik (@bitnk) December 2, 2015
What will it buy in that time? No one knows, especially not its creators: “It is both exciting and nerve wracking,” said Smoljo, “I sleep badly the night before it goes shopping … it is something that is out of our control. We feel vulnerable, but at the same time we like it.”