Art Hack Day

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This past weekend, I find myself thinking about Steve standing at the crossroads of Art and Tech, and I wonder if this is what he had in mind as I navigate down a deserted industrial street in Bushwick and hone in on a crowd of smoking hipsters. I check in on Foursquare, unlock the Warhol badge and am greeted by a roomful of projects, projectors, PBRs, minimal sub genre and some of the city’s most creative technologists (to be fair, many traveled). I’ve arrived at Art Hackday - A 48 hour “happening” of creativity and DIY expression that ended with a public exhibition at Brooklyn gallery space 319 Scholes.

Art and Tech danced a few times in New York last year – notably Eyebeam’s Art Hack Weekend and Rhizome’s Seven on Seven - but this has been the first pairing of 2012 and I think it bodes well for the city’s future. Art Hack Day resulted from a collaboration between three hackers (Olof Mathé, Paul Christophe, and David Huerta) and 319 Scholes. The team managed to land sponsorships from a variety of startups including New York-based Etsy, Art.sy, Canv.as and Makerbot. The event felt like a lean startup version of the ITP Show – it’s incredible that so much got created in so little time. A longer list of the hacks can be found here, but here’s some highlights:

Floating sphere of water (pictured) A novel, analog, arrangement of water, air, light, and mirrors. (Toby Schachman)

Haiku Wifi: Connect to haiku wifi network, create haiku wifi network, repeat. (Jonathan Dahan &  toby schachman)

Gif Booth A photo booth set up to take gif photos and project them in midtown in real-time. (Mary Huang, Ashley Zelinskie, Katie Wendt, Daniel Arcé, Winslow Porter, Adam Harvey, JR Harvey)

Ecology Without Nature Graffiti Moss, posted/growing outside 319 Scholes. (Marko Manriquez)

Tootr Randomly generated tweets from the Hive Mind (Justin Kerr Sheckler)

Folio A simple way for non-technical people to create beautiful portfolio websites. (Jonathan Vingiano)

Star Wars Uncut  Animated GIFS from the popular crowd-sourced movie project (Casey Pugh)

Jamie Wilkinson/FAT Lab and a team of hackers cooked up one of the more ambitious hacks of the weekend - ScratchXML – a file format for recording and replaying turntablism. Data from turntabling sessions could be output in real time, which allowed other participants to build visualizations based on the DJ’s moves. In fact, the team from Canvas built a game on top of it which allowed a player to battle the DJ in real time.

When asked about the organizers’ intentions for the event, Mathé said, “Art is by nature close to hacking and there is a ton of interesting stuff happening at the confluence of art/design and technology worthy of further exploration. I guess we wanted to take the best of hacker culture and bring it to the art world (e.g., team work, short iteration cycles) and vice versa.”

I’ve long suspected the art world has a great gift to add to the technology scene of the city. Not just art actually, but myriad cultural forms and a huge creative class, increasingly adopting the tools of Tech for its own ends. I can’t wait to see what happens as more artists, designers, architects, writers, fashionistas and filmmakers start writing code and hacking hardware.