Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Mysterious Toynbee Tiles

For the last three decades, somebody has been secretly leaving strange, cryptic messages in dozens of cities all over the United States and South America. These messages are painted on rectangular linoleum tiles and embedded into the asphalt of the streets. The majority of the tiles carry the same message, or variation of the same, which is:

IN MOVIE `2001

These tiles are referred to as “Toynbee tiles” due to their reference to the famous historian Arnold J. Toynbee. Other tiles carry political statements and tirades against society and culture, spelled out in a similar cryptic tone. So far hundred of tiles have been discovered, but the identity of its creator or the purpose of his or her agenda is unclear.
It is believed that the creator was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s science fiction story “The Toynbee Convector,” which alludes to an idea proposed by Arnold J. Toynbee that for humankind to survive, it must always aim to achieve far beyond what is practically possible in order to reach something barely within reach. Perhaps the creator wants to spread the message that humans should adopt Toynbee's idea and strive to colonize Jupiter. Such themes were touched upon in Stanley Kubrick’s classic movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” about a manned mission to Jupiter, where the character of Dr. Dave Bowman undergoes accelerated aging, dies, and is reborn as a “star child” back on Earth.

The first Toynbee tile appeared in the 1980s in Philadelphia, based on which it is believed that the anonymous artist is a resident of Philadelphia. Most of the tiles are confined in an area bounded by Kansas City, Missouri, in the west; Boston, Massachusetts, in the north; Washington, D.C, in the south; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the east. Exceptions include a couple of cities in South America such as Rio di Janeiro (Brazil), Santiago (Chile), and Buenos Aires (Argentina), but it’s difficult to say whether these far out tiles are original or made by copycats.

No comments:

Post a Comment