‘Monitoring Harry Brooks’ is an data sculpture that visualizes 274 email replies that an internet scammer received during a period of 3 months. The emails of the scammer were accessed by using social engineering techniques that vigilante online communities of scambaiters use for ‘Inbox diving’: an act of gaining access to internet scammers’ email accounts. The data sculpture abstracts the private nature of email communication, yet reflects on the nature of replies a scammer received. Each replied email was analyzed and categorized under the following topics: ‘insulting e-mails’(red stones), ‘trusted replies (black stones with yellow dots)’, ‘paid money’(big yellow stones) and ‘other’(green and brown stones) including autoreplies.

In this inbox the scammer impersonates an U.S. diplomat named Harry Brooks who is currently based in Benin, West Africa. He seeks assistance to transport a trunk box of $3.7 million US Dollars from Benin to the United States. People who would help him in this confidential mission would receive a share of the secured money. As a first fee to get the deal going and some necessary papers signed, he asks for the payment of a processing fee ranging between $83 – $183 US Dollars.

The data sculpture is inspired by various traditional data visualzation methods that used braided wool, cloth or hair with interwoven stones, textiles or knots. During an Artist in Residence program in Ghana the replies in the inbox were mapped to colourful stones that were traditionally braided into hair extensions.

 

Monitoring Harry Brooks exhibited at U10 gallery in Belgrade, Serbia.

Production of Monitoring Harry Brooks during the NKA Foundation Artist in Residency program in Kumasi/Ghana.

Exhibitions:

Jan 2016: Contemporaneity & crisis, Contemporary Art museum, Novi Sad/Serbia.
Dec 2015: Contemporaneity & crisis, U10 gallery, Belgrade/Serbia.

Publications:

Zingerle, A. (2014), Revealing passwords – Using social engineering to monitor scammers communication, International Journal for Art, Design, Technology, IGI-Global.