Digital glory holes

FIRST TO EXPLAIN:   Exceedingly hog-tied with life, work and huffing keyboard duster lately, so I’m more than a week behind in these entries—for which I apologize profusely to my loyal disciples (i.e., friends I pay); to you flakes who only visit desultorily, I owe you nothing.

That being said, let’s go back 9 days and live in that world. Happy 13 November, true believers. Now let’s learn something new.

They’re called dead drops. They’re a social experiment and guerrilla art installation, personally installed by one German media artist Aram Bartholl across New York City as part of his residency at EYEBEAM (the leading not-for-profit art and technology center in the US). And they look like this:

and this:

and are found in places like this:

So what purpose do these dead drops serve, other than some new public protrusion to catch your sweater on? Herr Bartholl elucidates:

‘Dead Drops’ is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space. USB flash drives are embedded into walls, buildings and curbs accessible to anybody in public space. Everyone is invited to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your favorite files and data. Each dead drop is installed empty, except a readme.txt file explaining the project. ‘Dead Drops’ is open to participation. If you want to install a dead drop in your city/neighborhood, follow the ‘how to’ instructions and submit the location and pictures.

Sounds like an idyllic endeavor of randomized file-sharing—one where unicorn pictures, Hello Kitty games and instructional videos on how to darn your socks are freely circulated among church groups and she-male prostitutes alike. Huzzah, Aram Bartholl!

Call me Chicken Little, but it’s only a matter of time before dead drops become digital cesspools. I want to believe the best in humanity, but let’s face reality. Like its analog cousin the glory hole, a dead drop sure looks like a lot of fun at first—but it’s really just a super way to catch something unpleasant that you could certainly live without.

All the same, I wholeheartedly applaud Bartholl for his efforts. What a kickass, intriguing idea—provided you don’t live in rain-heavy environs. Here’s how he installed them, at 24 frames per second:

If you live in the Tri-State area, I suggest you check them out before digital-savvy pond scum defile them. Bartholl installed the original 5 dead drops at these locations:

87 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY (Makerbot)
Empire Fulton Ferry Park, Brooklyn, NY (Dumbo)
235 Bowery, NY (New Museum)
Union Square, NY (Subway Station 14th St)
540 West 21st Street, NY (Eyebeam)

Just be sure to use protection prior to insertion.

by dint of Laughing Squid

~ by zactopia on November 22, 2010.

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