urban research

Yesterday we went downtown to the African Burial Ground national monument, the court buildings, the bollards and barriers to street traffic in the financial district, Occupy Wall Street, 60 Wall Street, and Maiden Lane; Mark Shepard wrote the trip up for the Urban Research blog. The following was my response; I wasn't able to publish it directly. It might be of interest to others as well:

 

City - by Kenneth Hsu on Monday, November 1, 2010 14:15 - 1 Comment - 178 views

In a year that has given us Facebook Friendship Pages, there’s no end to creatively (and creepily) sharing your personal information through your computer anymore. And with his new project “Dead Drops,” German digital artist Aram Bartholl is making sure no New Yorker can escape the urge to participate. No wi-fi necessary.

... In the meantime, this isn’t only digital art in the city recently — “Dead Drops” is part of a larger “X-Lab” campaign by Eyebeam, the popular non-profit art and technology center in Chelsea, intended to involve the public in creative ways. You can follow other “X-Lab” projects on the Eyebeam tumblr here.

 

Dead drop letter boxes refer to secret locations sometimes used by spies to exchange items or letters without requiring them to meet or use official postal services. As part of his ongoing residency with EYEBEAM in New York City, the artist Aram Bartholl has updated the concept for the modern age. His Dead Drops project involves placing USB flash drives around the city; fastening them to walls, curbs, and buildings; and inviting strangers to plug-in their laptops and share their favorite files or data.

 

[Aram Bartholl] is building his own filesharing network that screws those fat cats who want to control your freedom. He’s added file cache devices throughout NYC (five so far but more to come) that are anonymous and free to use. Upload what you want, download what you want. They’re completely offline which means monitoring who’s doing what gets a lot harder and quite possibly requires a warrant from a Judge (we’re obviously not legal experts, your mileage may vary).

As for the slew of comments that are sure to point out the dangers of malicious USB device; We think everyone knows they’re taking on some risk when connecting to a USB plug protruding from a brick wall.

 

The idea behind this morning’s post about USB flash drives struck me last night/this morning on a whim. Through absolutely no coordination whatsoever, I noticed the appearance of a photopool series on Flickr with every photo labeled “Dead Drops.” From the photos in the pool it appears someone1 is going around New York epoxying and cementing USB flash drives into public crevices. 2

A dead drop is, according to Wikipedia, “a location used to secretly pass items between two people, without requiring them to meet.”

Now, for the questions:

Who is doing this and why? Why those locations? What are on these drives? Where are they? Is someone mapping them? Are they read-only? 3 And, how long before someone sitting on a park bench or leaning up against a phone booth scrapes themselves on one of these?

 

Secret NYC File Sharing Network Created With USB Drives Embedded In Public Places -

Aram Bartholl's Dead Drops on PSFK

 

Aram Bartholl is mortaring USB drives into walls, curbs, and buildings around New York. These dead drops, as he terms them, are peer-to-peer file transfer points with true anonymity. Bartholl has a residency with EYEBEAM, a truly fascinating incubator of and studio for new ideas in technology and art.

 
Start Date: 
27 Apr 2006
Hours: 
7:00 pm
Cost: 
Free
Venue: 
Eyebeam
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Upgrade! NY
April 2006

Upgrade! Anniversary Brunch marked the seventh year in graffiti style,

with Evan Roth and James Powderly of the Graffiti Research Lab, and stencil artist Josh MacPhee.

Josh took us on a whirlwind tour through the history of illegal street markings (Street Art 101), with a focus on the history of the street stencil.

Evan and James talked about how the Graffiti Research Lab was formed. They demo’d the tools they’ve developed and gave out materials to make LED Throwies. Some of Evan’s students presented their projects and/or concepts based on the work of James and Evan. We concluded with a little Throwies experiment/happening.

 
Start Date: 
29 Mar 2007
Hours: 
7:00PM-9:00PM
Cost: 
Free
Venue: 
Eyebeam
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Upgrade! NY

March 29, 2007

Presenting a discussion and critique with Open City artist Leon Reid IV.

Reid presented his talk “The Call to Duty in the 21st Century”. How has the practice of street art redeemed the position of the Artist in contemporary society? Take a ride through history with street artist Leon Reid (Darius Jones) and explore what art has meant to civilizations of the past, where it got lost in contemporary Western society, and how the street artist is redefining what it means to be an “Artist”.

 

How do you define New York City? On September 18th passersby in Tompkins Square Park will be invited to share their answer to this question in words and images. Submitted responses will be projected live after sunset from a giant helium balloon, the Urballoon. The audience can also participate by visiting the urballoon.com website from their mobile device or from an on-site laptop connected to the Internet.

 
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