‘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 accessible 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. ‘Dead Drops’ is open to participation. If you want to install a dead drop in your city/neighborhood follow the ‘how to’ instructions and submit the location and pictures.

I  am a Berlin based media artist and started  the ‘Dead Drops’ project during my stay in NYC at EYEBEAM as artist in residence, October 2010. Dead Drops was part of the show “Talk to Me” at the MoMA  July-Nov 2011.

Aram Bartholl 2010

Dead Drops ‘How to’ video

The first 5 Dead Drops were installed by Aram Bartholl in NYC, Oct. 2010.

Prefer Youtube? Get the video here youtube.com/watch?v=hwohadcUv4A

Better browsing on full size window map here!

The first 5 Dead Drops were installed by Aram Bartholl in NYC, October 2010

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)

Dead Drops picture set on flickr

Dead Drops picture set on flickr


  1. DjE
    Posted November 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    It’s a really great idea !

    • Soghetto
      Posted November 4, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      im down to put some dead drops around Atlanta Ga.

      • Posted November 5, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        Definitely get some up around Atlanta. I’m gonna be doing that as well. I’m surprised how quickly this project is spreading…

      • Soghetto
        Posted November 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        ATL on the map!!

        I submitted pics… 1 block from the big chicken in Marietta
        located in the retaining wall behind behind the eastside pawn shop in the burlington coat factory parking lot.

        drove downtown for hours and could not find a good spot that was not being monitored by cameras. I was looking for a “hole” to fill as I did not want to vandalize but even still could not find a good location.

        Well ATL in the house – stay tunned for the next location that pops up :)

      • Louis
        Posted November 14, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        Represent. But yeah. Decatur area too.

        • Wil
          Posted January 3, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

          Be on the lookout for some soon around Gwinnett.

          • Kevin
            Posted January 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

            I’m in Gwinnett too! I would love to help you out, or plan with you. What area of Gwinnett are you in?

          • H David
            Posted January 20, 2011 at 1:46 am | Permalink

            In Gwinnett as well. Can buy cheap thumbs at Microcenter off Pleasant Hill. Would be a good meetup area. Deaddrops are so awesome…..

      • sean
        Posted January 28, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        seconding the atlanta dead drop again. I live in Newnan, and definitely plan on setting some up.

    • Randy W.
      Posted December 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      This is a great idea for the revolution, I`ll have Va. Beach up shortly and submit he location. V

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      que diabos de lugar e sse???

    • Posted January 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Hadopi controversy.
      Thanks for a great idea! we’ve mentioned the lovelocks here

    • Drachi Jr.
      Posted January 15, 2011 at 12:20 am | Permalink

      No. It’s a really stupid idea. I hope innovative people “drop” trojans in these drives, and they surely will. Then when your computer is compromised, the the true meaning of dead drop will be realized. Morons!

      • BestestFriend
        Posted January 19, 2011 at 6:14 am | Permalink

        It’s called AVG. The end.

        • Mark
          Posted January 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

          AVG as well as other Anti-Virus makers are unfortunately a half step behind the Virus Makers. That said, do you really want to be the first one to get a virus that you get from the virus maker that installed it on a “dead drop”.
          Hopefully they will name virus “BestestFriend”.

  2. Posted November 4, 2010 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I love this idea!

  3. Dns
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I think this idea has several problems and may end up contributing to child pornography and other illicit contents that are already chased on the internet. Think about the children that are explored and give up this irresponsible project.

    • Leandro
      Posted November 4, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Permalink


      This will be just like any p2p network, and anyone can put anything on it. Freedom is freedom. I’m not defending child porn, it is hideous in my opinion, but we can’t stop a good iniciative because of some bad dudes.
      If you see it, just delete (because is a crime) and live your life.

      Peace and freedom allways.


      • Djibouti jones
        Posted January 29, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

        The answer is obvious, people… BAN CHILDREN!!! No children, no child porn! No child abuse! No childhood diseases! And eventually, the end of ALL crime!!

    • Bobby
      Posted November 6, 2010 at 2:41 am | Permalink

      Look! It’s Captain Hindsight!

      • Bridget
        Posted November 13, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink


    • Posted November 6, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Think about the children that are ‘explored’? Freudian slip, perhaps?

      The Internet is commonly used to distribute child pornography. Are we also going to give up on that irresponsible experiment?

      And while child pornography is certainly despicable, what other ‘illicit contents’ are you referring to? Who gets to decide what is illicit?

      There is more wrong with your comment than I think even you could have expected when you wrote it.

      • Red
        Posted November 15, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        I agree. Plus, just the fact that we are taking time to call attention to the potential risks does show that the people here are all decent human beings, so that if there is questionable content, it could be brought to a caucus whether or not to remove it.

    • primal
      Posted November 15, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      There is no easier way to catch a distributor of child porn than to have them distribute it through physical means in a public place. That alone will be enough to discourage the use of the dead drops as a means of such distribution.

    • Mark Splinter
      Posted November 24, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink


    • bruno
      Posted December 15, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

      For this very reason I have been petitioning John R. Lewis to propose a bill making inkjet printers illegal.

      • bygbrudder
        Posted December 29, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

        I suggest we immediately contact the United Nations to have a worldwide ban on the manufacture, sale or possession of photographic equipment of any type.

        • Djibouti jones
          Posted January 29, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

          The answer is obvious, people! BAN CHILDREN!!! No children, no child porn! No child abuse! No childhood diseases! And eventually, the end of ALL crime!!

    • Loke Rundt
      Posted February 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink


      While the points about viruses/trojans is valid, get off your moral high-horse and start blaming innocent people for crimes

  4. Soghetto
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    One negative thing is the fact that a hacker can put some malicious code on there that runs with the autorun window that pops up on most PC’s.

    then again, id like to think that most people that would be intrested enough to share / check out a dead drop would be using a bootable CD OS.

    • BurlyEarly
      Posted November 15, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      Or, at least disable that feature before connecting.

    • Lauras
      Posted January 27, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Or, use linux

  5. Rew
    Posted November 5, 2010 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    In regards to the security concerns that have been raised:

    The only people who need to worry about autorun malware are users of old, unpatched windows machines. This feature has been disabled by default in Windows for almost two years now, and does not effect other operating systems. Yes, yes, relevant 0days do exist (like MS10-046), however this type are rare and quickly patched. In any case, anyone who connects to the internet is constantly at risk of 0day exploitation, so what’s the difference?

    Child Porn:
    Common people; If you were distributing child pornography, would you do it in a public place like this? And for what purpose? The idea that deaddrops will become child-porn storage bins is simply ridiculous. No “legitimate” child pornographer will ever use this to traffic their smut. I imagine at some point a few 4channer’s will try it out of boredom, but the next person to come along will just delete it. The “work-to-lulz” ratio is simply too high to be worth their trouble.

    High-Voltage Boobie-traps:
    This is the only, even half-legitimate concern raised, but if someone is determined to cause others harm there are a million easier, more effective things they could do. Why should we get our panties up in a wad over this one? If you’re worried, test it with a meter, or simply wait for others to verify it before plugging in.

    All that aside, isn’t everything in life a little dangerous? Sure, there could be some nasty 0day exploit waiting for you on that drive, but isn’t it equally possible you drop and break your laptop before even plugging it in? There’s also a fair chance you might die in a car wreck on your way to the deaddrop but I don’t hear anyone complaining about that. Since when has the fear of misuse kept us from creating something really cool? Jeez people, learn to live a little. Also, like Soghetto said, I would hope anyone wanting to use a deadrop would have the common sense to protect themselves. If they don’t have the necessary knowledge, then this could be a wonderful incentive for them to learn something new.

    Everything in life is a little bit dangerous. The potential for this project to be awesome FAR outweighs its risk. Just be cautious, and fucking live your life.