Spark

A fire-powered rock that might just save your life

A post-apocalyptic survival guide for the modern world.
"Keepalive" is an art project by German artist Aram Bartholl. The fire powers a generator inside the rock and powers a wifi router, which sends out hundreds of PDF versions of survival guides. (Aram Bartholl)
Listen7:11
Imagine you are wandering the woods, maybe somewhere in the German countryside. You decide to set up camp beside a big rock, and build a fire beside it. You light the fire, and suddenly, you see you get a wifi signal! You connect and find a treasure trove of survival information on every imaginable topic.

That's the dream of Aram Bartholl, a Berlin based artist who works a lot with what connects and separates the physical and the digital. His latest project, called Keepalive, features a wireless router fitted into a boulder in the woods in Germany. When someone lights a fire by the rock, it powers the router and connects that person to a digital repository of PDF survival guides. It includes everything from "The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook", to a "Survival Guide to Windows 7 Migration".

A sample of some of the "survival guides" included in Keepalive. (Aram Bartholl)

The name, Keepalive, also reflects that connection between the digital in the physical. It is named after empty packets of information sent between computers to keep a connection active, but also the act of keeping a fire going.


Keepalive was born out of a 2010 project of Aram's called Dead Drops. In Dead Drops, Aram physically cemented USB drives into buildings around New York City. Anyone could take or add files to the drives, but they had to go to the physical locations of the drives.

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