Technology

BERLIN (Web Desk) – At first glance, Keepalive, a digital installation in the countryside near Neuenkirchen, Germany, could easily be mistaken for a strangely charred and ordinary boulder. But a closer look will reveal that the inconspicuous 1.5-ton rock is actually an art installation with a fire-powered WiFi router and USB drive hidden inside!

Inside the rock, placed strategically in a small clearing in the woods part of an outdoor German museum, is a thermoelectric generator that turns heat into power for a Wi-Fi router and USB drive.

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Visitors who activate and connect to the router gain access to dozens of digital survival guides on a variety of topics, the Postscapes.com reported.

Created by Berlin artist Aram Bartholl, the rock, named ‘Keepalive’, tries to highlight the contrast between ancient and modern survival techniques.

Bartholl revealed that his inspiration to merge the concepts of primitive and modern survival came from the sight of people selling BioLite stoves during Hurricane Sandy.

In the absence of electricity, people were actually using the flame-powered stoves to power their devices and stay connected. “It was funny – the power goes out, and people would buy these little stoves and make a fire to charge their phone,” he said.

So he created a rock that runs exclusively on the energy generated by a thermoelectric generator that converts heat into electricity.

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Visitors at the Springhornhof museum need to return to the basics of survival and make a fire next to the rock in order to use the installation. When a sufficient amount of heat is produced, they can connect to the router using their smartphones.

The network runs on Piratebox, a DIY-software that creates offline wireless networks. Using this network, visitors can access, browse and download files stored on a USB drive, bored into a different section of the rock.

The drive contains a range of interesting, bizarre PDF survival guides for the modern world, including a Do it yourself Divorce Guide’, a ‘Drone Survival Guide’, a ‘Single Woman’s Sassy Survival Guide’, and ‘A Steampunk Guide to Sex’, according to Oddity Central.

The title “Keepalive” not only refers to this compendium of life-saving information, but is also the term for content-free messages that two network endpoints exchange while maintaining an open connection.

As a commentary on the nature of networked objects, Keepalive is full of contradictions.

Yet most of the information the rock reveals becomes relevant only when we return to civilization and its pervasive social and digital networks.

Keepalive and was commissioned by the Center for Digital Cultures at Leuphana University Lüneburg. It was installed at the Springhornhof Foundation & Art Association in August 2015. To minimize the risk of wildfires, visits to Keepalive must be scheduled with Springhornhof in advance.

See a demonstration of Keepalive in the video here:

Keepalive from aram bartholl on Vimeo.