Article by Graham Haught in Berlin; Friday, Feb. 7, 2014
On Wednesday January 29th, transmediale launched Art Hack Day at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Art Hack Day – curated in conjunction with L.E.A.P. – took place within the framework of a 48-hour “challenge,” wherein 80 tech-artists and hackers were invited to collaborate on projects. What they created was exhibited in the main exhibition hall of HKW and hundreds of people showed up to the opening event.
Working with Transmediale/CTM’s 2014 theme “Afterglow,” each exhibited piece was infused with elements of the post-digital landscape. Participating artists were faced with the challenge of transforming technological commodities that have become so integrated in our lives that we perhaps no longer recognize them as technologies or even commodities. Laptops, cellphones, digital photos — these were once innovative concepts that have now become commonplace.
French artist Emilie Gervais constructed an provocative piece called Pong With Fruits consisting of various pieces of smashed fruits displayed over simple black lines of tape. Next to the piece was a sign that read “Afterglow philosophy: Use your tech gadgets as paddles.” The piece was powerful in that it invited and allured spectators to immediately pull out their cameras (or iPhones) and take photos of the piece. However, these “tech gadgets” couldn’t function as perfect “paddles” to accurately photograph the work because the black lines threw off the composition of every photograph taken.
Artists Nicklas Marelius, Kristina Lindström, and Åsa Ståhl collaborated on a piece called Mobile mining: “I wont’ give you my mobile phone —there’s too much gold in it! The work was comprised of framed coffee filters with specks of gold imprinted on them. Each filter held gold and other materials extracted from mobile phones, thus displaying a physical deconstruction of the mobile phone to illuminate the rare materials that make up an utterly ubiquitous commodity.
London-based artist and theorist Dani Ploeger presented a piece called Recycled Coil. Parts of discarded TV coil were installed on the artist’s abdomen to create an electromagnet that emitted a pulsating magnetic field. As Ploeger stood in front of a television screen that displayed a film of the surgery, Ploeger’s stomach displayed copper wire stitched into his skin and what appeared to be a circuit board. When a spectator asked Ploeger about his project, he kindly answered with a smile, “I wanted to stitch an old TV coil into my abs.”
Although these were just a few of the many pieces presented during Art Hack Day, the exhibition was a success in that it provoked visitors to reflect upon the post-digital stasis we find ourselves in today.
Graham Haught is an artist and writer originally from California, now based in Berlin.grahamhaught.com