Bizarre new artwork embeds USB sticks in buildings for filesharing with strangers

Posted on 11:28 PM by Sameer Shah

A groundbreaking new project has created the first offline peer-to-peer file-sharing network - by cementing USB sticks into buildings.

The initiative, known as Dead Drops, is the creation of architect and artist Aram Bartholl.

He has been working on a number of projects that take digital moments into real space and real life for the last few years - and Dead Drops has stemmed from them.

Mr Bartholl. 37, has 'injected' USB flash drives into walls, buildings and curbs accessible to anybody in five spots across New York, with each dead drop containing a readme.txt file explaining the project.

People will then be free to upload or download whatever files they want when they pass.

He said: 'It's a development of different projects I have worked on, where I delve into and try to get between this intersection of online life and offline life.

'It's all about dealing with the question of how digital innovation of the internet through the last decade influences every day life.

'States and companies collect data online, everything is connected. We are all connected by Facebook and social networking.

'I like to convert this by making the digital meet-up an offline event again. You plug your laptop into a city, into the building and this electric device becomes part of the building.'

But commentators on Mr Bartholl's website have pointed out that the project will be an obvious target for people uploading malicious computer viruses or malware.

One reader wrote: 'It’s a shame these will be abused. Surely someone can put some sort of virus or keylogger on there. Not to mention people/rain will break them.''

But Mr Bartholl, from Berlin, Germany, aims to globalise the project by planting USB drives in major cities all over the world from the UK to China.

He said: 'I'm encouraging people to create their own dead drops on my website.

'Soon I want to create a short movie, map and a 'How to make your own dead drop' manual.

'I go back to New York soon and I will be able to see what has been shared so far. When I left there was music, movies and even some art on the dead drop at the art centre.'

Aram, who is a New York City resident for Eyebeam, a non-profit organisation focusing on art and technology, has a number of projects at the centre.

He added: 'I like to discuss online development offline - the whole idea of open web and open standards is very important.

'The iPad for example has already lost the USB connection so you have no real access to storage anymore.

'Everything is moving slowly to 'closed' and we will have a hard time to control what is stored on your hard drive.'

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