As famous new media artists we connected for the first time during Art Hack Day Berlin in September 2013 and loved the experience so much that we wanted to organize one on our own. Art Hack Day is an open event that brings together people making art with technology to create a flash exhibition from scratch; and we're bringing it to Cairo, Illinois.
We are creating an Art Hack Day exhibit in Cairo, Illinois under the theme "AFK", scheduled for May 1-3, 2014.
Cairo (pronounced "care-o") is the southernmost city of Illinois. Founded in 1837, the city grew to a size of 15,203 by 1920, and was an important hub of economic activity.
Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers (the two largest in North America), the strategic importance of Cairo's geographic location sparked prosperity during the Civil War. The rivers converge at Fort Defiance State Park, a fort that was commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant. Cairo was a strategically important supply base and training center for the Union army.
In 1900, Cairo had a population of nearly 13,000 but the construction of automobile traffic bypassing the city resulted in one of the most dramatic declines of any city in the United States, resulting in a population of only 2,831 residents by 2010 and a per capita income of $12,461.
The city suffered severe racial tensions throughout the 20th century with myriad riots during the civil rights movement.
Cairo is emblematic of the social, cultural and economic pressures we face today. In addition, it has the lowest elevation of any location in Illinois at only 318 feet above sea level, and is surrounded by levees. The entire city was evacuated during the 2011 Mississippi River Floods, a premonition of the impending sea level rise coastal communities around the world will face.
Art Hack Day Cairo?
For the past 10 years, we have been prolific internet artists, mainly working online or doing technologically mediated live performances. Our art is often highly contextualized and may to some seem prankish or at the very least only work in specific settings.
With Art Hack Day "AFK" - Cairo, Illinois we hope to bring tech-based art out of the echo chamber and into an environment where the audience will have a different frame of reference. The theme for the exhibit, "AFK" (Away From Keyboard), alludes to this new context.
In Cairo, we'll be organizing the hack & exhibition alongside the Cairo community and offering educational opportunities for the community to be co-creators of the works.
How will art work using technology function in this environment? How can we explore the issues shaping this community through our practice? Can we create an opportunity for this community in a way that brings people together?
These are some of the questions we hope to answer through this event. In any case, here are some more questions you might have that we can answer already now:
How will this work?
Darsha: Check out the Art Hack Day in Berlin to see how an exhibit like this is created: http://arthackday.net/berlin . Basically a bunch of artists whose medium is tech and hackers whose medium is art come together to create an exhibit that’s free and open to the public.
How will you use the pledges?
Barry: All of the money raised will go directly towards the production of the event: food, internet-access, venue rental and last (funds permitting) subsidies for participant travel costs.
Why do this in a small town, is this not patronizing?
Jamie: Actually, one could argue that framing the question that way implies a patronizing view of the world. I grew up in a small town in rural Canada but I now live in Copenhagen but am doing a residency in Berlin. Typical artist life, but it’s actually not glamorous at all. As artists we’re often forced by pure economic pressure to be active or gravitate in the megacities of the world but it definitely comes at the risk of homogenizing or even diluting our work. It’s no coincidence artists in the past used terms like ‘purity’ and ‘authenticity’
What do you hope to achieve with this?
Darsha: Personally, I’m most looking forward to the soldering and arduino classes I’ll be doing during the hack. (I’m probably the best solderer in the world. And I can’t wait to be challenged)
Anthony: Yeah, your contribution will ensure that the Cairo, Illinois will be heard in a way that hasn’t been possible before.
Pledge $999 or more and have your face projection-mapped by artist Barry Threw. (project with Obscura Digital shown)
Risks and challenges
Barry: We’ve all organized or been a part of major exhibitions before so the logistics of pulling an event like this are well understood. Incidentally, I hail from Southern Illinois myself so I know the county on a personal level.
Anthony: I’m still concerned we’re going to get negative press and seen as the net art crew descending on middle America.
Jeremy: I have produced and participated in hundreds of exhibitions all over the world and faced challenges of nearly every kind. I have never missed an exhibition deadline so don't see much risk there but I do see risk in our delivery of the rewards. Luckily though, I did a successful Kickstarter in the past and fulfilled rewards similar to the ones I’m offering now.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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