Archive for the ‘keepalive’ tag
DOMENICO QUARANTA: Oh, When the Internet Breaks at Some Point
“Walked out this morning / Don’t believe what I saw / A hundred billion bottles / Washed up on the shore / Seems I’m not alone at being alone / A hundred billion castaways / Looking for a home” The Police, “Message in a Bottle”, 1979
Back in October 2010, German artist Aram Bartholl cemented 5 USB flash drives in various locations in New York, as part of an Eyebeam residency.  Referring to the way, in espionage, items are passed between two individuals using a secret location and without an actual meeting, he called the project Dead Drops. The first five dead drops were empty, except for a small readme file explaining the project. A dedicated website was set up, featuring a video tutorial and a simple “how to” and inviting people to participate in the project.
In interviews, Bartholl explained that at the beginning he was just fascinated by the power of an image: a small data container plugged in the wall, in public space, and a person trying to access it with her own device. He invited people to participate by dropping files in and taking files out, installing their own dead drop and sending the GPS coordinates to Bartholl. As in many collaborative projects, he wasn’t particularly confident about people’s participation, and he believed that the project was conceptually strong enough even in the shape of a small, five-nodes network. But people liked the idea, and as I’m typing on my keyboard today, the online database features almost 1500 registered dead drops for a total storage space of 9891 gigabytes. I installed my own a while ago and I’ve noticed some others along the years, and I’ve always been fascinated by the precariousness of these tiny, rusty artifacts. I’ve never seen anybody plugging in, and probably most of them are almost empty, or out of work. But they are, still, extremely powerful as an image.
Message in a Bottle
“A Dead Drop is a naked piece of passively powered Universal Serial Bus technology embedded into the city, the only true public space. In an era of growing clouds and fancy new devices without access to local files we need to rethink the freedom and distribution of data. The Dead Drops movement is on its way for change! Free your data to the public domain in cement! Make your own Dead Drop now! Un-cloud your files today!!!” Aram Bartholl, “The Dead Drops Manifesto”, 2010 
The dead drops network emerged in an age that saw a major shift in the general perception of the internet as a public space. Widespread Wi-Fi access, the massive adoption of social networking sites, and the advent of smartphones made people start to think about the internet as a new public space, with no physical boundaries and infrastructure, where data can be shared and taken easily and seamlessly. The metaphor of the cloud, already used in the Nineties to describe the internet, became more and more popular in the late 2000s, when cloud computing emerged – further reinforcing the idea of an immaterial public space and eroding the difference between public and private, local and shared. As Annet Dekker wrote in 2008:
Full project page here!! –> http://www.datenform.de/keepalive-eng.html
Aram Bartholl 2015
permanent outdoor installation
material: rock, steel, router, usb-key, thermoelectric generator, fire, software, PDF database
size: 100 x 110 x 90 cm
at Landart Kunstverein Springhornhof Neuenkirchen, Niedersachsen, Germany
commissioned by Center for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University Lüneburg
curated by Andreas Broeckmann, Leuphana Arts Program
inauguration: Sunday, August 30, 2015, 11:00 am at Springhornhof
The boulder from the region Neuenkirchen, Niedersachsen contains a thermoelectric generator which converts heat directly into electricity. Visitors are invited to make a fire next to the boulder to power up the wifi router in the stone which then reveals a large collection of PDF survival guides. The piratebox.cc inspired router which is NOT connected to the Internet offers the users to download the guides and upload any content they like to the stone database . As long as the fire produces enough heat the router will stay switched on. The title Keepalive refers to a technical network condition where two network endpoints send each other ‘empty’ keepalive messages to maintain the connection. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keepalive To visit the piece please arrange an appointment with Springhornhof.de.
The project “Keepalive” by Aram Bartholl was realised in the context of the research project “Art and Civic Media”, as part of the Innovation Incubator Lüneburg, a large EU project funded by the European Fund for Regional Development and the Germna State of Lower Saxony.
Official Invitation (german)
You are warmly invited to the Keepalive opening on Sunday, 30th of August 2015
11.00 a.m. Meeting point at Kunstverein Springhornhof
Leave for Hartböhn by car (approx. 10 min) or by bicycle (approx. 20 min, rental bikes are available)
Greeting: Prof. Dr. Martin Warnke (Chair of Art Association)
In discussion: Andreas Broeckmann (Leuphana Arts Program) & Aram Bartholl
Food, drinks and data sharing at the campfire
“Keepalive” by Aram Bartholl (*1972 in Bremen) looks just like a normal rock from the outside. There is no sign that the stone, which lies inconspicuously in Lüneburger Heide on the edge of idyllic Hartböhn, contains hundreds of digital books. An internal thermoelectric generator and WiFi router must be activated by a lighting a fire under the rock before an electronic survival guide library can be accessed. Data and text can also be added by smartphone or laptop.
Media artist Aram Bartholl works with paths of knowledge and information communication that work against the developments of the digital age and question our handling of data. In this and other projects, he undermines power structures and control mechanisms in the use of internet services and data transmission, mostly through the introduction of a random, uncontrollable element.
In “Keepalive” the stone itself becomes the data medium. In a very archaic, but at the same time clandestine manner, information can be exchanged only locally — in contrast to networked servers, services and clouds worldwide, this rock is not connected to the internet. You have to get close to nature in the countryside, find the stone and make a fire to activate the data source. Anyone can do it once they have found out the exact location of the stone from either the nearby Kunstverein Springhornhof or another source.
Following the advice in the survival guides prepares you — this is the promise at least — for solo survival in the chaotic world of computer programming as much as for solo survival in the wilderness. “Keepalive” examines what “survival” really means and sounds out our true needs. The work resists the centralising forces of the Internet, raises questions about the democracy of knowledge management and ignites an autonomy backlash.” (Jennifer Bork)
The “Keepalive” project by Aram Bartholl was created in conjunction with the research project “Art and Civic Media” as part of Innovations-Inkubators Lüneburg, a major EU project supported by the European Regional Development Fund and the State of Lower Saxony.