Paul Garrin began working with video while studying fine arts at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York, where he landed after two years of classical art training in painting, drawing, sculpture, materials, and printmaking at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. He went on to produce definitive and visionary works that encompass a full spectrum of analog and digital media from video to the Internet, exploring media and the social impact of technology on society, and issues of media access, free speech, and public/private space.
Since 1989 Garrin has been working with interactive media, and developed three highly acclaimed works, "Yuppie Ghetto with Watchdog", 1989-90 , "White Devil", 1992-93 and "Border Patrol" 1994-96, all of which were produced with the technical collaboration of friend and artist David Rokeby, creator of the "Very Nervous System", evolutions of which formed the basis of "Yuppie Ghetto", "White Devil", and "Border Patrol". Paul also enlisted Don Ritter,
another friend and artist working in the same realm to create the live targets in the Border Patrol installation.
Paul's works have been widely exhibited and broadcast internationally including the Lyon Biennale 1995-96, Kwangju Biennale 1995, Sao Paulo Biennale 1994, Holly Solomon Gallery in New York, Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal, 1997, Galleri Faurschou, Copenhagen, 1997, Offenes Kulturhaus, Linz, 1998, Wilhelm Lembruck Museum, Duisburg, Germany, 1999 and others. His exhibitions have been reviewed in major international publications including ARTFORUM, Art in Amererica, and the New York Times; his works are documented in dozens of publications on art including Art of the 20th Century (Taschen).
Paul was Artist in Residence at the Berlin Videofest, 1990 as the Berlin Wall was being torn down, and was a UNESCO Fellow at the KHM in Cologne, Germany, 1992; he has received numerous awards for excellence including Prix Ars Electronica, 1997; ZKM Karlsruhe Medienkunstpreis, 1992; Special Prize, Bonn Videonale, 1988; Prize, Video Shorts, Seattle, 1990 & 91; New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, 1988, New York State Council on the Arts Media Grant, 1990. In 2001 Paul was awarded the Cooper Union's Presidential Alumni Citation for outstanding attainments and contributions to his profession.
From 1982-1996 Paul teamed up with Video Art Legend Nam June Paik and emerged as one of Paik's most important collaborators, producing literally hundreds of works that fill Paik's video installations in museums and private collections around the world.
Garrin's well known documentary of the Tompkins Square Riot, 1988 in NYC, shot with a home video camcorder, exposed through the media the willful police violence against demonstrators and bystanders and became known as the spark which ignited the "camcorder revolution", and in turn inspired the late playwright and then East Village resident Jonathan Larson to create the character named "Mark", styled after Paul's real life, in the musical "RENT".
In 1996 Paul founded the NAME.SPACE project to catalyze the divestiture of the U.S.- sanctioned monopolies that control the internet Domain Name System (DNS) and to create and publish new and expressive extensions or Top Level Domains ("TLDs") such as .NYC, .SPACE, .SUCKS and others while reforming domain policy, an initiative that continues to this day. Project NAME.SPACE under Paul Garrin's direction was the first to envision and actually create hundreds of Top Level Domains as early as 1996 while others spread falsehoods that large numbers of TLDs were not technically possible and that the creation of such would harm or even "break" the Internet. As an early proponent of a shared TLD registry system, NAME.SPACE helped shape the adaptation of a wholesale-retail domain registration market. The NAME.SPACE v. Network Solutions, Inc. antitrust lawsuit (based on the successful MCI v. ATT that broke up the telephone company monopoly in the USA in 1983) gave momentum to the restructuring of the domain name registration market from a single monopoly based system to a wholesale-retail one. The public benefit is lower domain registration costs.
Before NAME.SPACE v. Network Solutions a domain name registration cost $100; today a domain name can be registered for under $10 depending on the TLD and the retailer. Although Network Solutions violated the antitrust laws by refusing to add NAME.SPACE TLDs to the ROOT (the master domain name database), the court granted Network Solutions immunity casting NAME.SPACE TLDs into limbo as they were unable to fully bring them to market. NAME.SPACE pursued every option put before it to have its TLDs added to the DNS ROOT including participation in the U.S. Department of Commerce IFWP during the summer of 1998 and its year 2000 application to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In 2000 only ICANN Chair Esther Dyson voted to accept NAME.SPACE as other ICANN board members recused themselves from the vote while their applications were voted in by the other board members. ICANN absconded with NAME.SPACE's $50,000 appplication fee leaving NAME.SPACE out of the ROOT and its application unresolved. NAME.SPACE continues to pursue recognition of its TLDs through the ICANN process and otherwise, and reserves all rights to its TLDs. Some of the TLD service mark properties that NAME.SPACE owns and endeavors to bring to market are: .SPACE, .SHOP, .NYC, .ART, .ZONE, .ONLINE, .MUSIC, .BOOKS, .CULTURE, .PRESS, .COMICS, .MAIL, .CITY, .HOTEL, .CAFE, .RESTAURANT, .FOOD, .WORLD, .RADIO, .SHOW, .CHANNEL, .TALK, .GUIDE, .WEATHER, .NOW, .TODAY, .TECH, .SUCKS, .SPORTS, .CLUB, .GAMES, .DESIGN, .MEDIA, .FREE, .CHAT, .FASHION, .WAR, .PEACE, .LOVE, .SEX, .MOVIES, .FILM, .CINEMA, .THEATER, .DANCE, .BLOG, .GAY, .CAM, .CHURCH, .UNION, .PROPERTIES, .GALLERY, .INC, .LLC, .LLP (more see: http://namespace.org/vote)
In 1998 Paul met Simon Lok and in 1999 produced the first SSL/PGP encrypted web-based email service that became known as "LokMail" after convincing Simon that he was blessed with a name that sounded like "Lock" and that his name should be his "brand" in the world of information security. LokMail attracted the attention of the National Security Agency and the Pentagon, and one former head of the NSA, Lt. General Kenneth Minihan, became the Chairman of the Board of LokTechnology when the company re-organized and essentially evicted Garrin from the board in 2001. Former NSA Chief Minihan was later quoted in a 2004 article in Forbes Magazine that the LokMail project was a "generation ahead of its time".
In November, 2001, Paul, together with Frank Morales and Cristine Wang, founded Free.The.Media!, a non-profit member supported autonomous network and cultural think tank exploring and explaining how to reclaim public space on the net and preserve free expression, privacy and access for all, through education, community ownership of media infrastructure and the development of open source software. FREE.THE.MEDIA presented a series of events that featured well-known experts in arts, media, and policy including economist and professor Saskia Sassen, cyber visionary John Perry Barlow, Douglass Rushkoff, Howard Reingold, and performances by Revernd Billy, Yasunao Tone, and others.
In October, 2002 Paul got together again with Simon Lok to design the information architecture for what became known as the "AirLOK" which Simon's company LokTechnology now sells as a "network infrastructure appliance" for managing wireless internet services.
In 2003 Paul founded WiFi-NY, a non-commercial, member supported carrier-class alternative "last-mile" community wireless network that serves New York's East Village, Lower East Side, Williamsburg and other parts of Brooklyn.
In 2006 Paul initiated the GREENlined for WiFi!* project to raise funds for the expansion Wifi-NY as a WIND and SOLAR powered Metropolitan Area Wireless Network, and to include more of New York City's Parks and public spaces into WiFi-NY's alternative "last mile" neutral network.