Counterfeit City Erik Martínez | Shawn Sims
The life of a counterfeit product allows an opportunity to understand the clandestine activities it goes through in order to successfully exploit a legitimate market. As an illicit network, counterfeit economies rely on blind spots in the legislative, informational, bureaucratic and political aspects of legitimate networks. Through extremely precise protocols, such as extorting quantity and excess with regard to time, they are able to navigate and hack licit networks in a covert manner. These counterfeit networks have a specific knowledge regarding the protocological flow of the infrastructural arrangements; revealing through exploitation, different ingress typologies. These moments of ingress exist simultaneously on different logistical scales allowing for multiple modes of infrastructural hacking to occur.
Historically the process of standardization has spawned from the need for new structures in efficiency. The performance requirements of standardization create unbiased arteries that are susceptible to forms of exploitation. This also entails that at the global logistical scale the network possess a duality regarding the status of the good; being licit or illicit. As globalization generates new organizational models for distribution and logistical networks, the intelligence of the counterfeit network is understood to be its ability to uncover and anticipate opportunities embedded within these structures of efficiency. However, the morphology of efficiency bifurcates to multiple logistical scales, each susceptible in its own way. Moments of ingress must be assessed with respect to the logistical and operational scale they are nested in.
The modern shipping container is analogous with standardized practices, both physical and protocological, in an effort to increase globalization. While this mechanism seeks efficiency it simultaneously generates an opportunity for the insertion of an illicit flow. The scale of this infrastructural network coupled with amount of containers circulating around the world operate with a set of variables such as quantity, proximity, and time. Counterfeit movement can be understood as a form of slippage; the abuse of an unbiased network. Slippage can be quantified as a set of variable ratios that produce blind spots. In its most basic form, there may be simply too much volume and too little time to properly scan every container, thus slippage occurs and counterfeits seep into the market. While the relationship between time and quantity may exist on other network scales, the global infrastructures of transportation exemplify the power of this variable ratio. This ratio acts as a filtering mechanism that seeks to identify illicit traffic.
There is a second more localized logistical setting that operates on the scale of a product or package. The staging of packages within a formal space offers a unique momentary stasis for understanding the data associated with any physical good. Within these spaces of logistics, embedded virtual data emerges as the primary organizational machine; providing the virtual with means to position physicality. Global trajectories, temporal agendas, and physical dimensions of products are translated into a virtual tags that have the ability to manifest a specific physical organization. A package’s location within a formal staging space is determined by its relationship with other packages in transit. Much like the unbiased arteries stemming from standardization, the data set attached to any one package positions the status of the material in such a manner that its legitimacy is camouflaged. In a sense, only the illicit product that is detected is actually illicit. The temporality of the counterfeit status is subject to termination without detection.
Certain logistical points along the trajectory of product movement are susceptible to highly intelligent protocological hacks, while others are nested with thresholds pertaining to sheer quantities. The global logistical infrastructure of shipping can be seen as a set of highly rigid channels providing passage to a steady flow of matter. The system is most comfortable when it exists in its normalized state of equilibrium. While this perpetuates the rigidity of the system, this is viewable as a highly fragile moment. At any instance there may be a point in the system that is experiencing great pressure, while opposite that, there is a void created by this dynamic. The greatest threat to a system with this nature is flooding. Unlike a hack; a systematic attack on specific ingress typologies, flooding does not necessarily attempt to operate with stealth, instead locates its ingress moment and through sheer force attempts to breach the rigid system. The flood is an attempt to disrupt the structure of the network and the equilibrium. This offers the illicit matter an opportunity to blend in with the masses. Both hacking and flooding occur due to specific counter-protocols in operation. The two modes are able to correspond at times and at others operate independently. In correspondence the power of the collective hack is able to generate a new, differentiated rigidity spawning internally out of the licit network.
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