Approaching Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn, this past Saturday evening, you wouldn’t have had any idea what was waiting for you inside. The 20-degree weather combined with a slight windchill ensured there was no one lingering on the block who didn’t need to be. But upon opening the door to this otherwise discreet former iron works facility, you were immediately confronted with what was waiting for you inside:
This God of Blinky Infinity was one of 26 artworks, installations, and interactive projects by more than 50 makers, hackers, artists, and designers, for the latest installment of Art Hack Day, called DELUGE. Since launching in early 2012, Art Hack Day has successfully promoted three events per year in cities as distinct as San Francisco and Stockholm, Paris and Providence. For this first occasion of 2015 the “event for hackers whose medium is art and artists whose medium is technology” returned home to Brooklyn.
Somewhere between a “secret ingredient” hackathon and a curated art show, it felt like there was more planning compared with previous Art Hack Days. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, only that what was previously a little scrappy and quick felt rounded-out and polished this time around. Overall, the vibe was good.
The thread connecting each work was a reading of the title theme: DELUGE. That could be interpreted as anything from the inundation of data to the very physical destruction of property by flooding waters (like Hurricane Sandy, an event still resonating in the area, especially in coastal towns and neighborhoods like Red Hook).
And data and water isn’t just a conceptual pairing either. The piece Web Warp by Audrey Fox, Cameron Ketcham, and Kawandeep Virdee used two small fountains of water to act as a controller, or switch, in normally open status. When a human — or series of humans — connected or “closed” the loop between the two spigots, the switch was activated and a laptop connected to a projector streamed through an abundance of images, screenshots, dashboards, and visual data:
Other works were much more subtle, or even tongue-in-cheek, but each showed that it’s possible with technical and time constraints to generate new, novel, and innovative artworks that address or comment on the world we live in today.
#Drowning immersed two challengers in Oculus Rift environments at sea. Opponents were asked to give responses to trivia-like topics based on trending news stories from 2014 — i.e. “Africa,” “Ebola.” Depending on which opponent’s search results (in Google) returned the most results, the other would “drown” a little more in his or her virtual environment.
You can view a complete list of all participating makers and artists at the Art Hack Day: DELUGE website.