According to Foreign Sources

Gilad Melzer
Translated into English by Daria Kassovsky

A rhetorical fig leaf, the coinage “according to foreign sources” is a common tongue-in-cheek expression in many countries, Israel among them. Although it derives from a situation of legal obscurity, it is nevertheless used with distinctive clarity concerning the punishment for those who dare remove the leaf. “According to foreign sources” has become a prevalent expression in official briefings, the media, and academic discourse. It is habitually used to skirt censorial restrictions whose justification is security in the broadest and most unrestricted sense. It allows the speaker to evade responsibility for exposing forbidden information: They, the foreigners, claim so; it has all been said before.

Nowadays, more and more information is accessible to more and more people. A great ocean of data is accessible on a myriad of platforms, such as the Internet or libraries, to anyone interested. Governments, armies, intelligence organizations, research institutions, and economic corporations, however, are still busy hiding and filtering information, and inundating the media and communication networks with false information. Governments and organizations have always kept the existence of certain sites, activities, names, and people secret. They have always exerted themselves to mislead us with regard to the existence of means, units, or operations. They have always ignored questions, distorted facts, or lied “in the best interest” of their subjects, the citizens; in the best interest of these, secret juntas and circles of privy seal guards have evolved. The modern nation state, and with it the big corporations – its flesh and blood – developed open hostility toward the transparency and availability of information. The modern state and corporation hate information by their very essence. They have committed themselves to hostility toward the freedom of information. They have created apparatuses for hiding, concealing, classifying, distorting, and silencing. They have backed – and continue to back – themselves with laws which enable them to persecute those trying to obtain and disseminate information.

These are few of the issues the supplement “According to Foreign Sources” discusses. It is published in conjunction with the exhibition with the same title that will be exhibited at the Israeli Center for Digital Art from Nov. 19th, 2011 to February 4th, 2012

Curator and Editor: Gilad Melzer