Auction lets art bug rip in US$1.3m sale

Central Station | 30 May 2019

For Chinese artist Guo O Dong, the simple black Samsung laptop computer, loaded with six potent viruses, symbolizes one of the world's most frightening threats.

On Tuesday his creation The Persistence of Chaos rocked the art world, selling for more than US$1.3 million (HK$10.1 million) in a New York online auction.

There's nothing special about the 2008 10-inch Netbook, running Microsoft's now-outdated Windows XP.

But loaded onto its memory chips are the computing world's equivalents of the most deadly infectious diseases: "I love you" from 2000, "Sobig" of 2003, "MyDoom" (2004), "DarkTequila" (2013), "BlackEnergy" (2015) and, the most notorious of all, the "WannaCry" ransomware from two years ago.

It is a powerful symbol of the threat one simple laptop can pose to the entire world. The six trojans have caused at least US$95 billion in damage around the world, according to Guo.

The computer's wireless and internet connections have been physically and electronically plugged. But the buyer is warned not to unleash its pathogenic programs - by simply inserting a thumb drive.

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