Aram Bartholl

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Aram Bartholl
Bartholl in 2011
Aram Bartholl

27 December 1972
EducationBerlin University of the Arts
Known forcontemporary art, digital art, conceptual art

Aram Bartholl (born December 27, 1972 in Bremen, West Germany) is a Berlin-based conceptual artist known for his examination of the relationship between the digital and physical world.[1] His works often deal with anonymity and privacy.[2][3] Aram Bartholl is currently Professor for art with digital media at HAW Hamburg.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Aram Bartholl graduated from Berlin University of the Arts in 2001 with an engineer's degree in architecture. His graduate thesis "Bits on Location" won the 2001 Browserday competition.[5] During Bartholl's studies, he held a nine-month internship position at the Rotterdam-based architecture office MVRDV. From 1996 to 2000, Bartholl was part of the artist group "Freies Fach" which was known for its discourse on urban matters and for its public interventions.[6] He was also a member of the Internet-based Free Art and Technology Lab a.k.a. F.A.T. Lab founded by Evan Roth and James Powderly from 2009 until its discontinuation[7] in 2015.


Aram Bartholl is variously identified as a media artist,[8] a conceptual artist,[9] a post-digital artist, and an interdisciplinary artist.[10] Bartholl’s work has been associated with that of Constant Dullaart and Evan Roth among others.[11] He meticulously examines the implications of digital media and the changes in environment and circumstance that have resulted; he attained global recognition for his seminal work, Map (2006), an installation in public space that bridges the real and virtual worlds.[12] In Bartholl's play on video game adaptations, he also connects the virtual and real world in new ways.[13][14]

Bartholl has also explored new curatorial formats to represent digital art. In SPEED SHOW gallery-like openings are created for browser-based artworks in public internet cafes.[15] In 2014, Bartholl curated Full Screen an exhibition of digital art presented on a variety of screens, including wearables, featuring works by artists including Ai Weiwei, Constant Dullaart, Rafaël Rozendaal and Evan Roth.

As visiting professor at Kassel Art School] (Kunsthochschule Kassel, Bartholl has taught Visual Communication/New Media since 2015.[16] He was also visiting professor in Design Media Arts at UCLA, Los Angeles in the Winter/Spring quarter 2016.[17]

Notable works[edit]


Keepalive is a permanent outdoor sculpture in Niedersachsen, Germany, commissioned by the Center for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University Lüneburg. The title, Keepalive, refers to the keepalive signal, a message – often sent at predetermined intervals – that is used on networks to check the link between two devices, to make a diagnosis or to indicate to the internet infrastructure that the connection should be preserved. Domenico Quaranta described the work as generating, "...a fiction that ironically locates it in a post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk scenario where humanity has been “kept alive”, the internet is over and power is provided by fire, but also where technologies and pieces of information have survived as digital junk. Presented as an artwork and preserved as such, it may once turn useful and even essential for a wandering Mad Max to survive, as the only remaining access point to basic information."[18]

Dead Drops[edit]

Dead Drops

Bartholl's ongoing Dead Drops project, started in 2010, set up an offline peer-to-peer file-sharing network at five public locations in New York using dead drops: USB sticks cemented into walls. The project has expanded exponentially around the world—over 1,400 of them have been placed in dozens of countries, including South Africa, Ghana, Germany, Iran and Russia.[19]

The Dead Drops concept was extended in 2013 with the DVD Dead Drop installation at the Museum of the Moving Image (New York City). Bartholl embedded an inconspicuous, slot-loading DVD burner into the side of the Museum, available to the public 24 hours a day. Visitors who found the Dead Drop and inserted a blank DVD-R received a digital art exhibition, a collection of media, or other featured content curated by Bartholl or selected artists.[20]

In 2011, Dead Drops was included in the "Talk to Me" show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


Map by Aram Bartholl at the show Hello World, Kasseler Kunstverein2013

In 2006, Bartholl created a public art installation called Map. Bartholl installs a large physical representation of the Google Maps pin in the exact location that Google Maps identifies as the centre of a city.[21][22] Locations thus far have included Taipei, Berlin, Arles, Tallinn and Kassel. Each sculpture remains in place for about three months, usually coinciding with a local art festival or exhibit.[23]

The series was designed to raise viewers' awareness of the increasing overlap between the virtual and the physical, and to highlight mapping services' influence on perceptions of location. Bartholl's physical representations of the Google Maps pin urges viewers to reevaluate the information given by digitized maps, the meaning of the “center” of a city, the politicization of boundaries, and other issues related to maps and the digital versus the physical world.[24]


Bartholl's work has been shown internationally in solo and group exhibitions.

He is one of the artists selected[25] for the 5th Skulptur Projekte Münster in 2017, a once every ten years exhibition curated by Kasper König that has previously featured artists such as Naim Jun Paik, Mike Kelly, Rachael Whiteread, Mark Wallinger and Rosemarie Trockel.

Aram Bartholl's 2016 solo show at Kunstverein Arnsberg, #remindmelater,[26] featured the public performance Greenscreen Arnsberg,[27] which "caught" passers by with a portable green screen.

Solo Shows:


In 2007 Bartholl received an honorable mention from transmediale for the piece "Random Screen"[32] and with the concept for the performance piece "Sociial" he won the 17th Video Art Award Bremen 2007.[33] In 2011, Dead Drops received an Honorable Mention at Ars Electronica.[34]


  1. ^ Chris Caeser (9 July 2009). "'World of Warcraft' exhibit may raise some brows". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Dead Drops: what to do if you see a USB stick sticking out of a wall". The Guardian. 8 March 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  3. ^ Heddaya, Mostafa (8 February 2014). "Kill Your Phone: Artist Targets Surveillance". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Professor Aram Bartholl at HAW Hamburg". Archived from the original on 27 November 2020. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  5. ^ Dauerer, Verena (6 December 2001). "Wenn der Gullydeckel piept". TAZ. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  6. ^ Biographie 'Freies Fach'
  7. ^ "FFFFFAREWELL.AT". Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  8. ^ Voon, Claire (27 August 2015). "Fire Up a Wifi Router Hidden Inside a Rock". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Aram Bartholl". Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  10. ^ Moakly, Paul (24 October 2012). "Street View and Beyond: Google's Influence on Photography". Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  11. ^ Heiser, Jörg (11 January 2015). "Die Kunst der digitalen Eingeborenen". Deutschlandfunk. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  12. ^ ARTINPOST. "Art & Technology #13: Aram Bartholl Against the Prevalence of Digital Media". Hyundai Art World. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  13. ^ Jonah Brucker-Cohen (29 September 2006). "Aram Bartholl Sees in FPS Mode". Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  14. ^ "Auteur Focus". 22 August 2008. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  15. ^ Dunkelmann, Martin (31 October 2012). ""Speed Show" - das neue Ausstellungskonzept von Aram Bartholl". Arte TV. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  16. ^ "Aram Bartholl". Kunsthochschulekassel. Archived from the original on 19 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  17. ^ "Visiting Faculty". UCLA Design Media Arts. Archived from the original on 19 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  18. ^ QUARANTA, DOMENICO (12 May 2016). "Oh, When the Internet Breaks at Some Point". MEDIA IN THE EXPANDED FIELD Site. Montabonel & Partners. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  19. ^ Markowitz, Eric (13 February 2015). "The Odd World Of USB "Dead Drops"". vocativ. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  20. ^ Steinhauer, Jillian (20 August 2012). "Somewhere Between Cyber and Real: An Interview with Aram Bartholl". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  21. ^ "Tunneta kultuuri".
  22. ^ ""Map", 2006-2010 | ARTE Creative". Archived from the original on 2014-12-16. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
  23. ^ "Map – Aram Bartholl".
  24. ^ "Map – Aram Bartholl".
  25. ^ dpa. ""Skulptur Projekte" greift erstmals Digitalisierung auf". monopol magazine. monopol. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  26. ^ "Aram Bartholl Remind me later". Kunstverein Arnsberg. Kunstverein Arnsberg. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  27. ^ Bartholl, Aram (11 July 2016). "Greenscreen Arnsberg". Vimeo. Vimeo. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  28. ^ Stern, Becky (25 February 2015). "Aram Bartholl's Point of View Exhibition #WearableWednesday". adafruit. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  29. ^ "Hurt me plenty | | atractivoquenobello". Retrieved 2023-09-08.
  30. ^ Baumgärtel, Tilman (2013-09-04). "Medienkunst-Ausstellung in Kassel: Ein Flackern in der Cyberwirklichkeit". Die Tageszeitung: taz (in German). ISSN 0931-9085. Retrieved 2023-09-08.
  31. ^ Sterling, Bruce. "Aram Bartholl: Reply All exhibition + "The Speed Book," Berlin". WIRED. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  32. ^ Transmediale honorable mention
  33. ^ Video Art Award Bremen 2007.
  34. ^ "Honorary Mention 2011". Ars Electronica. Archived from the original on 30 June 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2017.

External links[edit]