Hack Shit and Call It Art

Two Decades of Eyebeam Art and Invention

Kenyatta Cheese is an Eyebeam Alum and was a resident in the early 2000’s.

He is a professional Internet enthusiast who creates technology-based media studies on the impact of media and technology on culture. He is Cofounder of Everybody at Once, a media consultancy, co-creator of Know Your Meme, a primary resource for understanding web culture, and Founder of Unmediated.org, a blog that tracks trends in decentralized media.

He wrote this letter to the 2018 Residents to launch their residency.


There is no art that is not first presented to the world as technology.

The brush, the chisel, the fabricator, code, whatever.

In this context, art is about bending technology in ways that get us to examine our relationship to the order of things that we’ve been taught and sold.

And the most daring artists are the ones who work with technologies and materials that have yet to be recognized as mediums for art —

Cory Arcangel in games.

Limor Fried in circuit bending.

Zach Lieberman in computer vision.

Jonah Peretti in media.

Evan Roth and James Powderly turned LEDs into participatory graffiti.

Jerry Juarez turned post office mailers into survival gear.

Jill Magid social engineered the police state.

Steve Lambert momentarily ended the Iraq War for 80,000 people by distributing his own version of The New York Times.

James Bridle showed how the glitch became the new aesthetic.

Trevor Paglen found solid forms in the ephemera of the surveillance state.

Ingrid Burrington showed us the topology of infrastructure.

Mike Frumin found the hidden politics in open data.

Nora Khan found patterns in the language of technology.

Nancy Nowacek revealed our own bodies as technology.

Natalie Jeremijenko in ecology.

Mimi Onuhoua in datamining.

Tal Danino in synthetic biology.

Tahir Hemphill in data-viz….

E-team, FATLAB, Yes Men, Knowear, MemeFactory, neuroTransmitter, Graffiti Research Lab, Not an Alternative, the School for Poetic Computation, the Rap Research Lab, Stamen, Arduino, littleBits…

If you go down the list of artists and residents and alumni of Eyebeam, it is filled with people who recognized the challenge of recontextualizing technology as mediums of experience. As new members of the Eyebeam family, welcome. You are now part of this legacy and that challenge now sits with you.

So go hack at shit and get away with it by calling it “art.”


Image: She Who Sees the Unkown by Morehshin Allahyari (2017).