Artifact: TSA-Inspired Art


Credit: Courtesy Christopher Locke, heartlessmachine.com

In the last year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the widely reviled agency responsible for snagging verboten lotion bottles and other contraband from air travelers, confiscated some 8 million items, including guns, knives, soda cans, nonbutane lighters (and many butane models too), and much more.

When it comes to knives and scissors, items with blades shorter than four inches are supposed to be allowed, but individual agents have wide discretion to ban anything they feel might present a safety threat. As a result, there are thousands of ostensibly OK scissors that end up in the TSA equivalent of Gitmo.

The D.C.-based artist Christopher Locke buys confiscated scissors that belong in the "grey area between what should be allowed on the plane, and what wasn't allowed" and re­fashions them into strangely disquieting spiders and bugs, viewable online at heartlessmachine.com.

They look ready to attack, their animus piqued no doubt by their arbitrary fate in a post-9/11 world striving for moral and political clarity. Had another agent handled them, those scissors might have already landed in Hawaii.