Welcome to Springhornhof Museum in Germany. What you’re looking at may seem like a regular 1.5-ton boulder, however, a closer look would tell you that it’s more than what meets the eye. It has been created by a Berlin based artist, Aram Bartholl and has been placed quite strategically in a small clearing that’s featured in woods part of the outdoor museum.
The rock has been named as ‘Keepalive’ and features a W-Fi router and a USB drive – both powered by fire. Now you know why there’s fire burning next to the rock in the picture. The art installation was created in order to highlight the contrast that exists between modern and ancient survival techniques. According to Bartholl, his inspiration for creating such an art installation was derived from the time when Hurricane Sandy struck and people relied on fire-powered stoves (BioLite) to power up their phones because of electricity being out.
He recalls, “It was funny – the power goes out, and people would buy these little stoves and make a fire to charge their phone.” This led him to the creation of ‘Keepalive’ that relies on the energy that is collected once the thermoelectric generator converts heat into electricity. The visitors at the museum need to go back to the basic survival techniques and start a fire next to the rock for the installation to come to life.
One sufficient heat has been produced, the visitors are able to connect to the router via smartphones. The network utilizes Piratebox, DIY-software that generates offline wireless networks, for its operation. By making use of this network, users are able to access, browse and even download files that have been stored on a USB drive – also located within the rock. The drive, as of now, features some really interesting guides for the modern world that include; DIY Divorce Guide, Drone Survival Guide, A Steampunk Guide to Sex and Single Woman’s Sassy Survival Guide.
No doubt that a number of these bizarre uploads can be credited to the visitors feeling mischievous, however, Bartholl isn’t really bothered about it. You’d be surprised to know actually that he is in favor of public data-sharing and is also the guy behind the Dead Drops – the amazing file sharing network that features USB flash drives embedded into walls all around the world. Keepalive has been named after the technical term for a message that is communicated between devices for ascertaining connectivity.
Bartholl said, “It’s not about easy access. It has a whole dystopian idea to it, like, will we need something like this in the future? Or somebody finding this in a hundred years – is it still working and they figure something out and they make a fire, or is there going to be a moment where we’re going to need to make fire again to get access to the data?”