So I’m arrived back at school this past week and I feel as disconnected as ever. However I am slowly crawling my way out of the social hole I dug for myself by going to Berlin last semester. I needed to get away from it with a distraction… something in the city… Something like Art Hack Day, as brought up to me by my good artist friend Olivia. “Ok,” I thought, “something new media related, right up my alley”. And sure enough it was.
Art Hack Day was an event put on at 319 Scholes, a gallery in the East Williamsburg/Bushwick area of Brooklyn. The event’s focus was a weekend long “hackathon” (as coined by them) for artists to open the process of art making under a technology medium. It also focused on the participatory aspect of this medium and the power it has to bring artists together. I was attending the last day of the event for the closing exhibition and party.
The area surrounding the gallery is teaming with a rich community of young contemporary artists in the city of New York. However, such a thriving community doesn’t change the fact that Bushwick’s facade looks less than desirable. Getting off at the Melrose stop on the L train is somewhat shocking as compared to the 59th and 5th Ave station I left from in Manhattan. As Olivia and I walked to the event, residential housing quickly changed to warehouses and sheet metal exterior walls. I knew we were close. Upon entering the door, you are greeted with a huge room packed with people and an animated .GIF booth in the corner connected to a projector showcasing the models posing at the time inside the box. I am always blown away by the changes in environment you can encounter in this city.
Also in that room was a brilliant new pending iPhone app demonstration of a program called “One Hole Punch” which basically used the iPhone’s camera to capture circles and keep them in your pocket. “Haiku Wifi” was another great piece which I actually discovered before stumbling upon the piece in its physical router form perched upon a pedestal. It involved logging onto the wireless network, observing the three existing separate haiku phrase networks and then promptly changing it to your own. “Pizza Machine” was another favorite in the first room that involved you pressing a button to let a digital person enjoy a pizza slice. The artist gave out her card on a paper pizza slice. Nice.
Moving onto the other room were even more projectors, this time a piece called Swim Browser which was a projection accompanied with an XBOX Kinect controller allowed you to “swim”, not “surf”, the Internet by using your arms and stroking through the air.
Into the basement (so many rooms!) we saw the first public demonstration ever of MakerBot Replicator, an open source and affordable DIY 3D printer that was printing things from tiny plastic acorns to renderings of Miyazaki’s Totoro monsters.
All in all this show was an amazing introductory session to NYC’s finest new media hacker artists producing work most take a life time just to theorize.