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Obliterated Hard Drives Are Found Art for the 21st Century

For '10 kg,' artists Sebastian Schmieg and Johannes Osterhoff created a new found object from a box of deconstructed hard drives.
October 30, 2014, 7:00pm
Screenshot from Google's Data Centers Inside Look

Ancient Egyptians believed their souls were judged by a comparison of the weights of their hearts with the weight of a feather. For their project, 10 kg, artists Sebastian Schmieg and Johannes Osterhoff have taken this assessment into the digital realm, questioning the value and presence of a hard drive after it's been taken apart.

To create 10 kg, Schmieg and Osterhoff first singled out the picture above—a pile of destructed hardware—from a collection of photographs from Google’s Data Centers Inside Look. From this image, they were inspired to create a symbolic and literal representation of the idea that without stored data, all that's left is scrap metal.

Schmieg and Osterhoff's 10 kg, via

”In their disassembled and dysfunctional state, as an afterglow of the data center factory, [the drives] remain loaded with meaning and provide not only a glimpse behind the shiny interface layer of Google’s applications, but also point to the actual sites of digital life,” Schmieg states in the project description. After the documentation, Osterhoff and Schmieg took the box of broken hard drives and sold them at the Internet Black Market in Berlin for a mere $85, Google's stock price when it went public in 2004.


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