Opinion

Patently Interesting Patent Art

(all images via contextfreepatentart.tumblr.com)

LOS ANGELES — In the great pipeline of innovation, we always hear about that spark of genius, the agonizing product development, the design team debates, and then at least the final product rolling out on shelves. But one item is typically lost in this narrative: the patent.

My new favorite tumblelog looks at Context-Free Patent Art, or, as it describes itself:

Art from people who aren’t artists, randomly culled from a wealth of video game-related patents.

Indeed, taking the projects out of their original context brings these video game sketches into the realm of found art. But unlike found art, the works depicted here were intended as some sort of visual representation, but perhaps not to be exhibited per se.

Take a recent post on Fig. 16A and Fig. 16B. We see young people standing around a console. Labels for “30,” 32″ and “34” point to key pieces in the interactivity, but it’s not exactly clear what they do. And then we see flowers in a landscape. Or the “Ha Ha Ha” man pointing at a Sony Bravia. A camera and microphone aimed at him seem to be able to detect when he’s smiling and laughing, but maybe they should also scan for guffaws and belly grabbing.

My browsing led me to what I’m sure is the tip of the iceberg with patent-related Tumblr. I came across The People of Patents tumblelog, a more critical collection looking at “terrible drawings of people from patents.” Many of the works there are indeed terrible, but the critical eye seems unfair for what are essentially sketches not intended for public exhibition.

So I keep coming back to Context-Free Patent Art. “Help me!” one drawing says. “My right-leg part has broken by challenger. Help me right now!” I want to help, but by the looks of it, I’ll first need to navigate a complex diagram to get started.

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