USB “Dead Drops”

November 16, 2010

Current Eyebeam resident Aram Bartholl’s new project ‘Dead Drops’ has been causing quite a swell in both the technology and arts. From his website, Aram describes the project as:

‘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 accessable 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.

Despite the possibility of viruses, malware, and booby-trapped USB drops, the project has been received worldwide as an exciting and experimental artistic statement. BoingBoing hailed the project, writing “The furtiveness of squeezing your laptop or mobile against a wall is rather intimate–these may be dead drops, but they’re also data glory holes.” The project has been made easily accessible with a dynamic map of locations of the drops, to the photo pool of installed drops, to tutorials on how and where to install drops.

The original ‘Dead Drops’ are located at:

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)

Regardless of the actual security of practical purpose of this project, the fact that it is causing a stir has created a forum of discussion about privacy, connectivity and individualism. The hundreds of comments and amount of drops created is a testament to the viral quality of technology as an art form. Short of some physical damage to several dead drops, there has been little testament that anyone has successfully recreated the many security concerns at this date.

 

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