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This Boulder is a Fire-Powered Wi-Fi Router

(Photo: Aram Bartholl)

It looks like a rock in the middle of a park. And it is a rock. But it's more than that. Artist Aram Bartholl hollowed out a portion of the rock and placed a Wi-Fi router inside. It's powered with a thermoelectric generator. So if you want a Wi-Fi signal, you have to start a fire at the base of the rock.

Bartholl calls this sculpture Keepalive. It's at the Springhornhof, a sculpture museum/park in Germany. Visitors can make appointments to use the rock. After starting the router, they'll be able to download a library of survival guides in PDF format. In an interview with Hyperallergenic, Bartholl explained that his sculpture explores the need to trace technological skills back to the most primal of tasks--starting a fire:

“It’s not about easy access,” Bartholl told Hyperallergic. “It has a whole dystopian idea to it, like, will we need something like this in the future? Or somebody finding this in a hundred years — is it still working and they figure something out and they make a fire, or is there going to be a moment where we’re going to need to make fire again to get access to the data?”

-via Amusing Planet

Fire is a VERY inefficient and expensive way to generate small amounts of electricity. It gets better when you scale it up to huge power plant sizes. You'd be far better off with a solar panel, or a crank or pedals, to generate the electricity. I bet a boulder with a WiFi router inside it that you have to crank, would be at least equally viral, while more practical.
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