“Dead Drops”

Dead Drops’ a new project by Berlin based artist Aram Bartholl. ‘Dead Drops’ is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space. Aram is ‘injecting’ USB flash drives into walls, buildings and curbs accessable to anybody in public space. You are invited to go to these places (so far 5 in NYC) 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 contains a readme.txt file explaining the project. ‘Dead Drops’ is still in progress, to be continued here and in more cities. Full documentation, movie, map and ‘How to make your own dead drop’ manual coming soon!

Current NYC ‘Dead Drops’ 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)

(via laughingsquid)

33 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Incredibly likely to become a “gum repository”

  2. What keeps someone from uploading a virus onto the drop? I would be wary to plug my computer into an anonymous USB drive.

  3. Sounds like a great way to get a virus, worm or trojan horse to me. What a shame an otherwise great project will be inevitably be ruined this way.

  4. …Lets get my laptop out in public and wait 5 mins while files download…. whose bright idea was it to sponsor crime?
    In addition I agree with the two above

  5. Conceptually slick and ironic to boot. Pun intended.

  6. It’s a beautiful project.. yet in this world..there’s no way it would work for the reasons mention above :)

  7. It’s a beautiful project.. yet in this world..there’s no way it would work for the reasons mentioned above :)

  8. Likely more bad than good will result from this. Neat idea though.

  9. My momma always told me, “Never stick foreign objects in my…”

  10. This must be only for linux…

  11. Just plug in your Mac.

    Everybody know Macs have no viruses.

  12. It’s the 21st century version of a San Francisco bathhouse. It’s great fun until someone gets a virus.

  13. I just love it when readers of Design Blogs go all techy … !
    So someone else wants to warn us cuz of the viruses?

  14. it should be a read-only drive, where the hopefully virus-free author just place files or urls and give hints like a scavenger game…

  15. Sounds like a digital one night stand without protection

  16. I think it is a great way to spread multi-media graffiti.

    No one steals everything from a geocache. There is an ethic to things like this. Odds are more in your favor that someone will put something beautiful they want to share than a virus to spread.

    Keep this one moving.


  17. Why do they let idiots own computers…

  18. It’s sort of like a digital glory hole. Kind of creepy if you ask me.

  19. @traceofile
    nice idea to use it for graffiti. actually to extend the idea would have been nice a bluetooth device that when you ar ein proximity of it you could see graffiti on the wall using agumented reality..actually even just a sticker would be sufficient. all in all, this usb idea is poor.

  20. To be a bit more optimistic, what’s to stop people from running antivirus programs on the drive’s contents and cleaning or deleting all the infected files? It could be completely automatic, too – no need to be cautious about which files are deleted, as this stuff’s meant to be ephemeral. If you really want to be bulletproof, disable your hard drive and run a Linux live CD.

  21. Jay, exactly what i though as I saw all the comments. It’s strange, people download wicked stuff from obscure sources almost daily and without really beeing worried… but when there’s something beautiful like this, they all get scared to death.

  22. I hate to be a downer, but I really see no upside here. Information and files are so ubiquitous and easy to get online. Why would anyone want to sidle up to a wall to get it? This is a step backwards. Silly project.

  23. The idea could be really cool if we all were exemplary citizens :D

  24. Found your blog a couple weeks ago and now I won´t miss it any longer. Great to see and read about the beautiful designs, weird things like this, and all the other stuff you´re showing. In addition I get my daily dose of NYC :)

    Greetings from Vienna. Leo

  25. Ken, this is clearly a work of public art, not a practical design item. Of course files are easier to get online. dufus.

  26. Yep, these could be vectors for a virus or other “badware” infection. Yep, they could be used to transmit illegal content. So can the internet. Interesting that people don’t see that there is fundamentally no difference here…

  27. I’m going to go all political, and say that the comments so far are not a proof, but a very good case for why communism would never work in America. We all pretty much know that none of us will ever work toward the common good.

  28. Notice the gentleman in the picture is using a netbook? I wonder how many full-size laptops will meet their maker in an attempt to swap digital fluid with these fixed USB drives.

  29. Love the haters here. It’s public art. Get a USB extension cord and you don’t have your machine hanging off the USB key directly. And you should have antivirus on your machine anyway, downloading from a USB key is no more or less safe than from the web. The analogy to geocaching is correct. Most people don’t trash geocaches all the time or put horrible things in them. Only the enthusiasts care, for the most part.

  30. It would be nice to have an “autorun.inf” immunity folder on those USB drives; so people with Windows… that would be really simple virus protection. There are programs which can actually do that, such as AMPAWsmasherX (has this feature called “autorun.inf immunity” which places invulnerable folders that protect against viruses which try to install themselves using the autorun feature.

  31. Not worried about virus… but I agree with Chris H. kind of a creepy digital glory hole idea. Neat, but there is something gross about it.

  32. I’m totally putting some dead drops in Phoenix now.