Community Dead Drop Project

Community Dead Drop Project


A creative platform for an urban community

The Community Dead Drop Project is based on a concept developed by German artist Aram Bartholl. Bartholl embeds USB keys in the masonry of buildings, letting only the connector stick out. The keys form an off-line peer-to-peer file sharing network which is entirely community-driven.

The project developed for the Pointe-St-Charles community consists of three of such ‘classic’ Dead Drops, as well as two ‘Dead Drop Libraries’, and a Pirate Box. The Dead Drop Libraries are hardcover books which are hollowed out to contain USB keys which can be borrowed and returned. A Pirate Box is a USB key which is attached to a small WIFI router, allowing anyone with a smartphone or a WIFI enabled computer to access the files on the USB key. All Dead Drops have been installed at various public locations throughout the Point.

Unlike “traditional” Dead Drops which are blank USB keys, the Community Dead Drop Project USB keys have been seeded with content. This content plays with the digital architecture of the USB file format: when opened, the user sees a stack of file folders. The names of these folders are dates, such as 1947,  1963, 1977, 1991, 2001, 2015, 2023, 2045. Some folders contain content, such as historical data about the specific Dead Drop location, some folders contain original artwork that reflects on the location’s history. Other folders simply contain a prompt to fill it with information.

The atemporal format of the Community Dead Drop project acts as a creative prompt, inviting community participation, the sharing of memories, of the current day-to-day, and of their hopes and fears for the future. The Dead Drop network is a platform, a possibility, a blank canvas prepared by the artist for the community to paint on.

This project was created in collaboration with Concordia University’s Right to the City project.