International art and tech event series, Art Hack Day, is coming to St. Louis, August 17-19. The 48-hour marathon hackathon and exhibition will engage 40 artists in a special Eclipse themed edition hosted in the @4240 Building in the Cortex District, St. Louis’ technology startup epicenter.
Art Hack Day is an internet-based nonprofit dedicated to hackers whose medium is art and artists whose medium is tech. The organization bridges the gap between art, technology, and entrepreneurship with grassroots hackathons and exhibitions that demonstrate the expressive potential of new technology and the power of radical collaboration in art.
“Art Hack Day disrupts our notion of what ‘art’ is and of what’s imaginable when creativity is sparked by the power of technology,” said Regional Arts Commission Executive Director, Felicia Shaw.
Art Hack Day organizers wanted to center an event around the historic eclipse because they believe that in the midst of an eclipse, what is taken for granted is called into question and the darkness elicits wonder and fear, and perhaps also sparks inspiration.
The result of the 48-hour marathon will be a diverse set of contemporary art and technology-related mixed media pieces on display Saturday, August 19 from 6-10pm in a flash exhibition showcasing the collaborative work.
Art Hack Day Eclipse was brought to the city by its main organizers and St. Louis locals, Tyler Mathews, Jon Phillips, and Barry Threw. For them, this was about more than bringing another tech event to their city.
“All of us grew up in the region, have kept ties to the area, and recognized that now is the right time for international attention to focus on the unique culture of the area,” said Threw, Art Hack Day Co-organizer and Curator. “All of the conditions are right for an arts and innovation renaissance in St. Louis.”
Threw said those conditions include a high quality of life with a low cost of living that creates an environment where artists and entrepreneurs can thrive. Art Hack Day is an event that creates a synergy between those worlds to elevate everyone.
Past Art Hack Day events have helped raise the profile of emerging artists in New York, Paris, Stockholm, Berlin, Seattle, Montreal, and San Francisco.
“Each Art Hack Day has been a total success with unexpectedly great results,” said co-founder of Art Hack Day, Olaf Mathe. “Each city and the artists whom have decided to live and work in their context, create specific unique pieces. Art Hack Day is about finding the raw emerging artists, bringing them together, and seeing what they can do.”
The event is now giving St. Louis, an emerging tech and art hub, a chance to come together and receive international exposure.
“Artists and entrepreneurs both have to use high-level problem solving and creative thinking abilities to actualize ideas that no one has dreamed before,” said Threw. “Both of these career trajectories require independence, conviction to a vision, and the willingness to take great risks to bring something that doesn’t yet exist into the world.”
Threw also said that both careers are often unsupported by traditional institutions which creates more challenges.
“To succeed you must connect to people with the power of your ideas and work,” said Threw. “This is what makes the collaboration between technology and art that Art Hack Day supports so powerful.”
Threw also sees a lot of confluence between art and tech. He’s observed that the two worlds are intertwined and that the history of art is really one of technological progression.
“The development of new paints, new materials, new techniques; all of these things have enabled artists to create groundbreaking new work,” said Threw. “Similarly, pure creativity by artists has always caused the limits of technical possibility to be tested, spurring new development in the pursuit of creative inquiry.
Some of the participating artists at Art Hack Day Eclipse will include global street and stencil artist Peat “Eyez” Wollaeger, known for large scale signature EYEZ found around St. Louis; self-taught indie game developer and 3D artist, TJ Hughes; Zlatko Cosic, a filmmaker and video artist with sociopolitical commentary; and Paul Guzzardo is a designer based in St. Louis and Buenos Aires, whose work includes launching the first networked club in the 1990s and using new media to map the devolving state of the American public sphere.
The August 19 flash exhibition will open to the public and press for one night only. The event series has been covered by ArtBerlin, ArtInfo, FastCompany, Hyperallergic, Make Magazine, The Verge, TechCrunch, and more.
People can still be involved in the event even if they can’t make it to St. Louis. Supporters can help amplify the work of the collaborators at Art Hack Day by following on Twitter and Facebook and posting on social media with the #arthackday hashtag.
“Art Hack Day breaks through the daily grind of work to produce a complete show,” said Threw. “We need to all elevate the creative collaborations from all the local St. Louis artists and developers that will be spontaneously occurring at Art Hack Day Eclipse.”
Christine McGuigan is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.