Patents as Illustrations for Best Selling Literature

Here is something different; a departure from the day-to-day, utilitarian concerns of intellectual property protection.

The German artists Julius von Bismarck & Benjamin Maus have recognized the world’s 7 million patent applications and 22 million interconnecting prior art references as a rich tapestry from which to pluck complex stories from the collective id. Not only this, but they have invented and constructed a machine to illustrate such never ending stories, one patent illustration at a time. They call this ‘the Perpetual Storytelling Apparatus’.

The machine is a line plotter which draws on an unraveling scroll of paper. It draws upon information it finds on the internet and the USPTO databases. It takes selections from current bestselling books and parses the words into a series of existing patent illustrations which best represent the concept at hand. It then illustrates the connection between these “phrases” with shared prior art. Amazingly, this can be done with an average of 7 nodes of references. The illustrations themselves become the “language” of the story.

In a poetic way, this process synthesizes the literary present with the historic progress of mankind’s scientific endeavors and the patent illustrations provide the thread which ties this all together. Patents present us with such a tidy time capsule of intellectual output. Patents represent the hopes and intentions of the inventor, as well as collective goals for progress and the technological focus of the current era. Although we don’t often think of them in this way, a timely patent can often represent a zeitgeist of a technological or cultural era. After all, just imagine what a great story is represented by this.