A View from John Maeda

Bionic Cracker

A silverized cracker teaches me the true meaning of digital art: the online community around the object can matter more than the object itself.

  • September 17, 2007

At a chic hotel in Minneapolis recently, I was perusing the hotel’s impressive collection of contemporary artwork by Damien Hirst when my eyes rested upon these wonderful pewter crackers for sale. These crackers are of course inedible, although they come in clever easy-to-open packaging, which made the distance from package to stomach seem eerily close. Hirst’s cracker is exactly the same physical scale as a regular cracker, and it has a wonderful heft in terms of its weight: each single silver cracker is about as heavy as an entire box of conventional crackers. The artwork has a hidden digital nature–a tracking-number scheme so that the owner’s relationship with the object can be forever preserved on the Web. If you’re looking for a good gift for a slightly off-kilter friend, I can’t recommend a better item as food for thought about the nature of art in the digital and physical worlds.

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