How artist Curtis Wallen used the Deep Web to create a person who does not exist

In News by DJ Pangburn / November 8, 2013

Curtis Wallen is a Brooklyn-based photographer and visual artist. But, since January 2013, Wallen has been using the Deep Web to systematically create Aaron Brown, a person that doesn’t actually exist. Using Tor, Bitcoin, and various other methods, Wallen was able to procure a State of Ohio driver’s license, a boating permit, State Farm insurance card, Comcast cable bill (for proof of address), and a certified membership card for the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas.

“At the end of it all, I was left with a small pile of documents I could use to reasonably convince someone this new person was real,” writes Wallen in a blog post. “I had the physical proof of a person with an entirely digital genesis.”

Wallen even created an Aaron Brown Twitter service that anyone could use, which he describes as “reverse astroturfing”; and an Aaron Brown proxy server.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I could fabricate a new physical person using the Deep Web, Tor, Bitcoin, and all of these technologies available to subvert digital tracking, and see how far I could push it’,” Wallen said in an interview.

Below, in the short documentary I directed, Wallen goes into detail on the Deep Web birth of Aaron Brown, including how he created this fake alter ego’s face.

How to Disappear from Uniswoon on Vimeo.