The hands of the anonymous coder


Mineta San Jose International Airport strikes us as a harmonious and peaceful place as we land, almost unusually much so to be an airport. The people moving to and from their gates, checking in luggage and saying their hellos and goodbyes flow, like a gentle river stream, in and out of the airport. We move outside, looking for the car rental, when we see them. The giant hands on the building with the car rental center.

Hands are a very expressive part of the human body. Almost like the face, our hands can tell a story, of our way of life, our mood, and we use our hands for gestures to express emotions and wishes.

When we see these hands however, we think about work. About labor. It is easy to assume that hands have ceased to be as important as they used to when it comes to value creation. And of course, many of the success stories of Silicon Valley can be attributed to creative ideas. But even when working with software, hands fill an essential function. Imagine the thousands upon thousands of coders that have brought search engines, social networks, and smartphone applications to life by tireless typing on keyboards. When we see the hands we see them as a tribute to all the anonymous hands that helped build the success of Silicon Valley.

We discussed the piece with the Mineta San Jose International Airport’s Public Information Manager, Rosemary Barnes:

“Public art by its nature evokes feeling and feedback from all it encounters, and Hands by German artist Christian Moeller is no different,” she said. “This larger-than-life artwork representing the hands of 53 local residents and affixed to the rental car center offers a stunning greeting to all who leave from and arrive to Silicon Valley’s airport on their journeys to places near and far.”

Even though the piece probably mean a lot of things to a lot of people, to us, the hands on the Mineta San Jose Airport’s rental car center will forever be the hands of the anonymous coder.