Synthetic Messenger (2021)

Synthetic Messenger is a botnet that attempts to artificially inflate the value of climate change news. Everyday it searches the internet for news articles covering climate change. Then 100 bots visit each article and click on every ad they can find.

Made in collaboration with Sam Lavigne, the project examines the relationship between climate change and the internet's business model, that subsequently produces its capacity for splintering public opinion and an algorithmic myopia. The work questions what activities are currently counted as ‘geoengineering’ and understands culture as co-producing environmental conditions. The work points out something the fossil fuel industry and its proponents have long known, that those that control the media cycle, control the carbon cycle.
Project graphic. Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne – Synthetic Messenger. © the artists.

Screen recording of the botnet in action,

Project illustration.
‘Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne – Synthetic Messenger, 2020. © the artists.

Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne – Synthetic Messenger: Lisbon', Sonar Festival, Lisbon 2022. © the artists. Photo: Tega Brain.
Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne – Synthetic Messenger: Melbourne', Australian Center for Contemporary Art, Melbourne 2023. © the artists.

Read more about the project in The Battle to Control the Media Cycle published in Ding Magazine.


Synthetic Messenger is by Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne.

This project has been supported by the Goethe-Institut's New Nature Program (2020) and by the 2021 STRP Festival.

With thanks to Dr. Simon David Hirsbrunner for collaborating on the background research, and everyone who contributed their hands: Dominique McBride, Corin Faife, Lauren Lee McCarthy, Daniel Shiffman, Jackie Hasa, Martin Walsh, Djoeke Schoots, Andrei Stoica, Cubiton, Elizabeth Henaff, Andrew Lau, Regine Gilbert, Royce Brain, Loretta Moy, Yeseul Song, Brian Clifton, Orion Kellogg, Masha Kouznetsova, Zlatica Hasa.


The Irreplaceable Human – the Conditions of Creativity in the Age of AI, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.
Nov 23 - April 1, 2024.

Taoyuan Art x Technology Festival, Taoyuan Arts Center, Taiwan. September 22 - October 29, 2023.

Data Relations, Australian Center for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. 10 Dec 2022–19 Mar 2023.

Distant Early Warnings, Gray Area, San Fransisco.
Sept 29 – Oct 30th, 2022.

Sonar Festival, Lisboa.
April 8 to April 11, 2022.

STRP Expo, Eindhoven (online).
June 3-6, 2021.