Archives for : April2010

Ben Rubin’s Dark Source in Artefact Festival


What is missing? Has it never been there or has it been removed? Does available information exist that is not looked at, read or used?

The Artefact Festival, at the STUK Arts Center in Leuven, Belgium, ran from February 9-14, 2010 and featured Ben Rubin’s artwork, Dark Source, as part of its exploration into the meaning of archives, secrecy, memory and silence.

Dark Source shows the inner workings of a commercial electronic voting machine, the Diebold AccuVote-TSTM touch-screen voting terminal that has recently been adopted in many U.S. states. What you see [in Dark Source] is a representation of the software program that runs inside this machines. To be specific, it is a printout of version 4.3.1 of the AccuVote-TSTM source code 49,609 lines of C++. 720 pages of the printout are suspended, and several hundred additional pages can be accessed on microfiche.

Calling its source code a trade secret, Diebold has asserted its proprietary interest in protecting its intellectual property. Therefore the code, which had been obtained over the internet following a 2002 security failure at Diebold, has been blacked out in its entirety in order to comply with trade secrecy laws.

What is on display, then, is not the forbidden source code, but rather the state of affairs in which we find ourselves today, one in which the critical infrastructure of democracy in the United States is becoming privately owned, and being private, is also being made secret.

You can see more photos of Dark Source on EAR Studio’s Flickr page here.

Ben acquired the source code for Dark Source with the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. You can learn more about EFF, Diebold and electronic voting machines here.


Listening Post on


Read about Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen’s LISTENING POST, and nine other fascinating artworks, in Hugh Hart’s great article about the London exhibition, “Decode: Digital Design Sensations.”