FREE KEVIN Screening

Public Program
Oct 14, 2010

Free Kevin demonstration in NYC, June 1999.
Photo by Neon Samurai.

A Hacker Screening Series
Curated by Pirateturk
Organized by Laurel Ptak
Hosted by General Public Library in conjunction with SoHo Night


6:00 PM to 7:45 PM
WAR GAMES (1983)
7:45 PM to 9:00 PM
HACKERS (1995)


FREE KEVIN is an ongoing and roving screening series from a collection of 15.4 GB of downloaded films and documentaries depicting hackers and related computer culture from the 1980s-2000s. A range of material including blockbuster films, educational television programming, and documentaries produced within the hacking community will be presented in various cities worldwide over the next year in order to stimulate dialogue around issues of intellectual property and open culture.

The title FREE KEVIN is an appropriated slogan that was originally used by the hacker community in the 1990s to protest the arrest of Kevin Mitnick, a legendary hacker who at the time was the most wanted computer criminal in United States history. Mitnick’s story is of interest for its fascinating particularities concerning hacker culture, intellectual property, and media representation historically, but at the same time it also functions as a contemporary symbol. It bears our reexamination precisely because of how much it still resonates. If anything, the battlefield over intellectual property has only intensified and been waged against an increasing number of individuals over the last decade. FREE KEVIN can be read as the embodiment of resistance and struggle for rights and freedoms from corporate and state control inside an information age and economy.

The project additionally opens up questions about the role of the curatorial inside network culture, where information is often freely, widely and anonymously distributed. All of the videos in the screening series are from one collection that was assembled and distributed by an anonymous peer-to-peer file sharer known only as “pirateturk”. This person is credited as the screening series’ curator, though they are not in any way directly involved with the event.

A set of FREE KEVIN publications designed by Eric Nylund will accompany the screening series in order to contextualize and complicate the ideas at stake concerning intellectual property and the hacker as cultural and criminal figure. FREE KEVIN is hosted by General Public Library in celebration of the library’s recent acquisition of these titles.

Join us on October 14th from 6-9 pm as we screen two of the most influential movies about hacking ever made back-to-back: WAR GAMES (1983) and HACKERS (1995). Popcorn will be served and you are welcome to BYOB. The event will also serve as an informal FREE KEVIN ripping party, so grab your USB stick, hard drive, or laptop too.

Continue to follow the project:

PDFs of the books, research notes, documentation, a bibliography, and a DIY FREE KEVIN kit to enable others to create their own screenings will eventually be released as a torrent file and the entire project will continue to be documented at:

About the Organizer

LAUREL PTAK is an independent curator based in New York City with particular interest in network culture and image-based practices. She has worked for numerous arts institutions including the Guggenheim Museum, PS1 Contemporary Art Center/MoMA, Aperture Foundation, and Art:21. She frequently teaches, lectures, writes, and blogs about photography, the internet, and open culture as well as curates projects internationally.

Project Description:

General Public Library