In Basel, Switzerland, there’s a building that, at first glance, appears to be a little, well, off. Focus your attention and you will indeed see a building that has been designed to look like a glitch.
One feels as if he or she is walking around in a real life Google Street View world where every now and then buildings and roads aren’t quite complete or don’t fully line up. However, much to the onlookers’ confusion, this is real life. No dodgy photo patching here.
The building is the brainchild of !Mediengruppe Bitnik, comprised of London-based, Swiss artists Domagoj Smoljo and Carmen Weisskopf. The pair of cyber legends, famed for their Random Darknet Shopper Bot which trawled the dark web buying items on its own accord, have taken their art into the built environment. Their building will act as a museum showcasing more digital art for the House of Electronic Arts Basel. Meanwhile the items that their bot purchased, some of which is illegal and ended up getting the duo arrested, can be seen at the KunstHalle in St. Gallen. Initially seized by Swiss authorities, all items bar the $48 worth of the drug ecstasy that the bot took a liking to were returned and deemed legal in the name of ‘art‘.
“We were interested in applying something digital, like an error from the software world, and building it out of stone,” Domagoj Smoljo said in a recent interview with Vice. “When you see it, you don’t really see it at first, you come at it from the sides and think, ‘what kind of reality is that? Is it an image or is it real?'”
Unlike the items inside, the building shouldn’t plunge !Mediengruppe Bitnik into any more forays with the law. Working with the original architect and construction team they were careful to maintain the building’s structural integrity.
To achieve the illusion piping was broken up and aligned in a staggered format. This process was employed throughout the facade being applied to window and door frames, stone pillars, and metal railings. Not all window frames could be altered though as they were too integral to the buildings structure and design.
“We had to make sure it was going to still stay up,” Weisskopf told Vice. “The building was finished last year, and now contractors have come back to do the alterations—so you’ve got them wondering why we’re glitching it.”
The facade is named H3333333K (apparent cyber-slang for HEK – House of Electronic Arts Basel) and the real life glitch doesn’t appear as if it’s going to be fixed anytime soon.
“It should stay for at least 25 years, maybe more,” Smoljo said. “It’s part of the building now.”
The exhibit opened September 8, House of Electronic Arts Basel, Switzerland.