Titled “Keepalive,” the installation piece actually sits on private land and an appointment is needed to come light a fire. Bartholl’s installation derives its name from the message devices send between each other when checking connectivity. The artist was the same mastermind behind the public USB drives embedded in the walls of New York buildings. Following in line with the media sharing theme, this new rock based Wi-Fi connection allows users to upload and read survival guides of their choosing. Ranging from the “Instagram Identity Guide” to a “Guide for Healthy Relationships,” the files are meant to be a collection of the things modern society finds important.
In what is purely artistic irony, Bartholl dreams of the rock existing into a dystopian society where in order to gain access to the data, they would need the most primitive element: fire. He also created the piece to demonstrate a clash of different technologies. In order to gain access to one of the facets of modern society, you have to rely on your survival skills and create fire. The fire activates a thermal generator which powers the router and begins supplying those around with internet.
Who knows, maybe there will come a day when all of society has collapsed and fire is needed to grant connectivity to the internet. “Keepalive” certainly gets you thinking about what’s really necessary in life for survival. For now though, free Wi-Fi and a warm fire sounds like a good way to spend an evening.