Artist Evan Roth has been working on a soon to be released project that toys with an innovative and provocative means of communication as a form of protest. The project, called “TSA Communication“, incorporates metal plates with laser-cut messages placed at the bottom of carry-on luggage. As the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees X-ray the luggage, the intended message is presented on the operator’s display.
Apparently, Roth has made it through three trial airport runs already and was only stopped when trying his box cutter silhouette plate, which he calls “The exact opposite of a box cutter”. They let Roth go after he explained that it was an art project. Other designs include a simple middle finger, an American flag, and the messages “Nothing To See Here” and “Mind Your Own Business”.
The plates are 8.5 x 11-inch sheets of stainless steel and the laser-cutting apparently costs $300 per sheet. That’s an obscene amount for a DIYer to reproduce. If you’re patient and good with a drill and steel-cutting hacksaw blade, I reckon you could make one up for a few dollars. Definitely wouldn’t be as neat, mind.
It’s a fascinating experiment which I’m sure will lead to some very creative messages if this catches on. Unfortunately, it’s not a very effective means of communicating discontent or instigating protests or change of any kind. The TSA attendants are just employees trying to earn a living, they’re not on some personal crusade. A message sent in this manner, while fun, is not going to achieve much and could possibly result in you being singled out for additional screening. Not pleasant.
It’s curious that these metal plates aren’t instantly confiscated upon detection. If one edge were sharpened it could make for a serious weapon.