* The hackathon, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy, will begin Tuesday, February 5, and run through the exhibit opening Thursday, February 7 at 8 pm. The gallery will be open for work for the entire 72 hours.
"Low Tech Nation", the first Hackathon held at HaMidrasha Gallery – Hayarkon 19, is an event that brings together art and technology. Beginning February the 5th, 30 artists, hackers, makers and techies will gather at the gallery for 72-hours of intense work to develop innovative initiatives from the fields of technology, activism, art, programming and hacking.
Hackathons are social events in which members of a community gather for a limited period of time in order to create and develop ideas together with a technological orientation. Many high-tech companies have adopted the free-form format, without a hierarchy of management, and use it to accelerate development processes, consolidate staff, and brand the organization as a fun and creative work environment.
But what happens when art enters this sphere of hackathons and art meets technology? What is the potential for a Hackathon that takes place in the gallery of HaMidrasha, the Faculty of Arts of Beit Berl College, which views education as a vehicle for social mobility, equality and justice for all sectors of Israeli society? The participants in "Low Tech Nation" seek to examine whether art can use technology to resist, criticize, and undermine the forces that drive it.
It seems that Between the Israeli pursuit of the next big "exit," and the image of Israel as a cyber power, there is little room for critical discourse on the politics of technology - about the cynical and exploitative use of technology for political, economic, and cultural purposes. "Low Tech Nation" is a technology-based event that asks to stay outside of the profit-oriented corporate space, to reflect on the forces driving technology innovation, to think about the use we make of it, and its impact on our lives.
Among the different projects that will be developed during this 72-hours event: Tzila Hassin, an engineer and artist, will work with a group of hackers to further develop "Shmoogle" - an alternative search engine for users who want to choose the optimal search result for themselves; Artist Miri Segal will build a virtual sculpture system based on "Amazon Sumerian" a recent AR platform created by Amazon. Segal will invite a group of graduates of the Post-Graduate Program in Fine-Art, HaMidrasha, to create and work in this platform; Artist Nir Harel will start a collaborative thinking group dealing with the idea of "Transparent Money" as a tool for making economic systems transparent; and Dor Zlekha Levy, will work with a team that includes a programmer, a translator and a sound man to revive "Tsababa" - a Hebrew-Arabic-digital choir, in a process that includes bilingual intervention in translation and voice recognition applications. Another project will be held by Mechanical engineer and artist Hadi Halil, that will work on a mechanical-sound creating bicycle.
The projects will be on view at the gallery for one night, Thursday, February 7, starting at 8 pm. During the event, an experiential meeting of critical thinking on technology in the online world will be held by “Desperately Seeking" – a hacking community – moderated by Yoav Lifshitz, a hacker of art and technology, and one of the organizers of this event, together with Avi Lubin, the gallery curator and Adina Pearlman Vardi, the gallery director.
Does technology help us find answers to what really matters? Or is it only reducing our ability to choose? Does this not limit our ability to define for ourselves what our essential goals are? Some of us choose to cut ourselves off, but does a complete detachment really give us an answer? This event will start a group thinking process on these questions.
Avi Lubin - Gallery Curator
Yoav Lifschitz - Art and Technology Hacker
Adina Pearlman Vardi - Gallery Director