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Season 2010 Episode 20100518

Bent Fest

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Bent Fest
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It was an average Saturday at the DUMBO, Brooklyn outlet of Mikey’s Hook Up, a computer retailer and repair specialist. Well-groomed arty-types came in, alone, in couples, with lattes in hand, all there to admire the shiny wares or bring in their dead laptop for repair. The air was quiet, calm, tinged with some nail biting concern about lost files, perhaps, but mainly confident. In other words, no sign of the kind of melee happening in the art space just across the street, where the Bent Festival, the annual circus of the art of “circuit bending,” was happening. Bent Festival celebrates DIY audio and hacking culture around the world. There, scattered impromptu groups of hardware hackers were tearing their gadgets apart, literally, in an attempt to do their own kind of fixing. Their only assistance came from men in worn t-shirts and beards whose advice consisted mainly of how to solder circuits together and the best way to break open plastic cases. To open one piece of electronics, someone resorted to simply throwing it at the floor, again and again, until its tiny tinny speaker started making death groans. (Later, he would add a new, louder speaker, and make it make stranger sounds.) Steve Jobs would have been scandalized.moreless
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