Retrospective: Art Hack Day Lethal Software

Art Hack Day @ GAFFTA – 2012 from Mulchio on Vimeo.

Back in December 2012, Art Hack Day took place at the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA). Participants gathered in a space overlooking one of the busiest and highly trafficked streets in San Francisco to work tirelessly for 48 hours to create projects based on the theme of ‘lethal software’. As I stepped into the work area to catch the hacking in real time, I recall faces concentrating and looking intensely at brightly lit laptop screens. I even passed by some participants and saw lines of code cascading down as reflections on glasses. While a daunting task to create around a theme associated to death and morbidity, the myriad of ways to approach showcased the immense creativity and innovation of the makers. The projects forced the participants to look figuratively and literally at the notion that software and technology can be used as a medium to interpret ways we understand loss, violence, surveillance, decay, and death. From the whimsical to social commentary, below are some of my favorite projects from the Art Hack Day and an image gallery.

KillKillKill!!! by Chris Bisignani and Emily Martiny: A simple game enter your mobile number and asked to kill someone and suffer the consequences of that “kill.”

Face Theft Mirror (Performative) by Toby Schachman and Gabriel Dunne: Projection and a webcam were used to let visitors perform in front of what seemed to be a mirror thus allowing a screen capture where the next visitor acquired the face of the previous looker.

Spinning Beachball of Death by Toby Schachman: A new spin (pun absolutely intended) involving the Mac Wait Cursor. Visitors were put into an enclosed space given headphones, and asked to look at an LCD monitor linked to a presence sensor. As the onlooker meditates over the cursor, it grows larger and multiplies.

Drone Strike by Max Ogden, Abram Clark: A live video feed of open space with target picking interface and bomb button. When a target is selected, a remote helicopter is launched. When the bomb button is pressed, a randomly located noise / light bomb is triggered.

Wrinkle In Time by Jonathan, Erik, and Jean-Pierre: Aptly named after the sci-fi fantasy novel by Madeleine L’Engle, digital images of text are made to virtually disintegrate through an accelerated aging process as the viewer attempts to read the piece of text as quickly as they can.

okKillMe by Jeremiah Johnson and Sarah Grant: The notion of language, figures of speech, and semantics were at the heart of this project. A pseudo match making site that paired people using the hashtags: #readytokill or #readytodie

Lethal Software Memorial by Jeremiah Johnson: An elegantly and minimalist work that provided historical cases of databases and software malfunctioning that led to human fatalities. Quite the commentary on how human death and software relate.

Vortex by Andrew Benson and Stijn Schiffeleers: A cathartic way to alleviate stress! Visitors sent a text message with ‘something they wanted to get rid off‘. Subsequently, a printer would provide a receipt of sorts and the message would get sucked into a vortex projected into a hole in the wall.

Near DJ Experience by Valentin Burov and Natalia Ricalde: Innovative approach of taking a 4 channel mixer/sequencer and producing music using folded pieces of paper. Great way of combining digital and analog.

Doomsday Clock by Matthew Gerring: Sounds and images of drone surveillance of your neighborhood, featuring a countdown clock to the day the FAA will authorize drones for use in civilian airspace!

If you would like to see more pictures of Art Hack Day, visit the tumblr site or the projects site.

* All photos by Dorothy Santos