Jonah Brucker-Cohen - !Alerting Infrastructure!
  Year :   2003
  Location :   England
  Worktype :   Installation
  Materials:   drill, internet
  Info :   Labcyberspaces Project, 3/30/07 - 6/30/07, LABORAL Centro de Arte y Creacion Industrial, Gijon, Spain. Connected,12/1-31/06, Breda, The Netherlands. Texelectronica, Fort Worth Modern Art Museum, 10/26-28/06, Dallas, Texas. OBORO, 9/16/06-10/21/06, Mont

  Work Details  
  A web site Hit Counter that Destroys a Building. Description Alerting Infrastructure! is a physical hit counter that translates hits to the web site of a physical location into interior damage of the physical building that web site represents. The focus of the piece is to amplify the concern that physical spaces are slowly losing ground to their virtual counterparts. The amount of structural damage to the building directly correlates to the amount of exposure and attention the web site gets, thus exposing the physical structures temporal existence. The project has been active in 5 countries (Ireland, USA, Canada, Belgium, The Netherlands) to date. Overview The proliferation of web sites as virtual representations of physical locations has reached a saturation point. Despite the massive surge of bricks and mortar spaces (such as schools, businesses, organizations) maintaining online presences, there is still little connection between the people simultaneously inhabiting these spaces. Alerting Infrastructure! addresses this by connecting a physical space such as a building to its online counterpart or web site that represents this structure / organization by scanning access logs of web site for new unique visitor hits and translating each new site hit into physical output in the form of activating a large, pneumatic jackhammer. With each new virtual hit, the jackhammer slowly destroys the walls of the physical building. Since web sites and virtual interfaces can garner an almost unlimited amount of virtual hits without showing any visible signs of decay or extended use, the project attempts to illustrate a fundamental reversal in role of physical spaces losing importance and relevance to their virtual counterparts. Related Work: Alerting Infrastructure! gains inspiration from other works that attempt to emphasize the temporal nature of physical structures and the social impact their inhabitants bestow upon them. One such work is Chris Burdens Samson (1985), a mechanical structure of wooden beams set up so that when people enter a room through a turnstile, the beams are forced against the wall, eventually leading to the rooms collapse. This installation not only instills fear in the gallery visitor (because the walls could collapse at any moment) but also makes them question the fundamental relationship between the structure and the space it occupies. Similarly, the Mural robotic drill (designed by HoneyBee Robotics) from Diller + Scofidio s exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC, drills randomly placed holes in the wall of the gallery as visitors entered the space. The sound not only disturbs the pristine acoustics of the gallery but also reminds visitors of the temporal nature of the structures holding up and displaying the work. Looking at the fundamental relationship between architectural space and its occupation, use, and subsequent decay over tiime, Alerting Infrastructure! is ultimately concerned with the potential role virtual participants can take in this process. In most cases, online visitors to an organization s web site have no contact with the general public that is simultaneously inhabiting the physical space. The project emphasizes the importance of this connection to provide a link between people in both spaces and to express this in physical form. This way visitors to the physical space can get a sense of how many online visitors have come and gone and experience their presence as the walls slowly deteriorate. System: Alerting Infrastructure! exists as a PHP based hitcounter on the main page of the organization s web site. On a local PC situated in the space, software reads the incoming hits from the site and sends serial output to a microcontroller for a specified time period. The microcontroller switches a TRIAC (AC current relay) to turn on and off a Pneumatic Jackhammer held up by steel cable from the ceiling of the space, and aimed at the wall. With each new hit to the site, the jackhammer is powered on and the wall is slowly chipped away. On the web site, a readout indicates to visitors the amount of damage they have caused such as: Your visit has contributed to Some Percentage of the destruction of (this organization s) physical building. Thanks for visiting! . Accessed 22.2.2007 from