Aram Bartholl – Keepalive (2015)


From the outside, “Keepalive” by Aram Bartholl (* 1972 in Bremen) looks like a normal found object. Without knowing it one would be hard pressed to guess that this stone on the edge of the idyllic village of Hartböhn in Lüneburger-Heide contains hundreds of digital books. The work is activated when a person lights a small bonfire which trigger the function of a thermoelectric generator and a WLAN router. A smartphone or laptop may then be used to access an electronic library with survival counters of all kinds to which you can add your own data and texts.

The media artist Aram Bartholl works with ways of acquiring and transferring knowledge and information, which counteract with the current developments of the digital age and question our handling of data. In this and other of his projects, he leverages power relationships and control mechanisms in the use of Internet services for data transmission, often by adding an uncontrollable random component.

With “Keepalive”, the stone itself becomes a data carrier. In a very archaic but also conspirative way, information can only be exchanged locally, because, unlike world-networked servers, services and clouds, this stone is not connected to the Internet. You have to go into nature to find the stone and make a fire to activate the data source. This can be done by anyone who has received an explanation in the nearby Kunstverein Springhornhof or other sources of the exact location.

The advice from the collection of survival guides is prepared, so it is at least a great promise for the lonely survival in the confused world of computer programs as well as in the wild. “” Keepalive “asks what “Survival” really means, and fathoms our needs. The work addresses the problem of centralization on the Internet, raises questions about the democracy of knowledge management and initiates a counter-movement of autonomy. “(Jennifer Bork)

Aram Bartholl (* 1972 in Bremen) is a member of the artist group Free Art and Technology Lab – FAT Lab and moves in network political circles such as the Chaos Computer Club. In addition to numerous lectures, workshops and performances, his work was exhibited internationally at the MoMA Museum of Modern Art, NY, The Pace GalleryNY and Hayward Gallery London. Aram Bartholl lives and works in Berlin.


The project “Keepalive” by Aram Bartholl was developed within the scope of the “Art and Civic Media” research project as part of the innovation incubator Lüneburg, an EU large-scale project sponsored by the European Regional Development Fund and the State of Lower Saxony.