Arts: Review of Patent Pending at the Zero1 Garage

Patent Pending is a group exhibition that uses patents as a starting point to investigate the relationship between artists, ownership of ideas, and innovation in technology and the arts.

Patent Pending features artworks by contemporary artists that have either resulted from, or led to, a patent that the artist has either received a patent for or is “patent pending”. Participating artists are Maggie Orth, Catherine Richards, Phil Ross, Daniel Rozin, Scott Snibbe, and Camille Utterback & Romy Achituv.

Most people around Silicon Valley understand that technologists and entrepreneurs pursue patents on their inventions and Silicon Valley remains a notable and global engine of innovation with the most innovative people and companies globally.  But artists also file patents. I’ve been interested in this area since the early days of virtual reality where technology and art intertwined. I also briefly ran the intellectual property efforts of publicly traded computer graphics software company MetaTools/MetaCreations which made software tools for artists.

Patent Pending was inspired, in part, by the change in U.S. patent law that went into effect on March 16, 2013 and repositioned the United States patent filing system from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system, as well as in response to plans to open a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Silicon Valley. The exhibit is the brainchild of curator by Jaime Austin and is quite simply a brilliant idea that is also very well executed. I attended the opening event and had a great time although I missed inventor and serial innovator Michael Naimark‘s talk sadly.

The supplementary materials are worth reading and the exhibit viewed as whole looks great. An innovative feature of this exhibit is that it includes display of the actual patents related to the displayed artworks.

Scott Snibbe’s “Blow Up” is a fun piece which provides a very direct demonstration of a transhumanist notion, amplifying  human abilities using technology. Blow Up amplifies the simple act of breathing. By blowing into the small version of the artwork the operator is able to cause the larger fans to rotate in response.


There are several other interactive and fun exhibits that of course also include their relevant patents. This is an art show you can attend with your kids or your intellectual property attorney and still have fun.
Perhaps the funniest part of this show is that visitors are asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement to access part of the show. Sorry I can’t tell you what is in that area because, well, I signed the NDA. :)As a Silicon Valley veteran of 20+ years I have signed literally a large file drawer full of NDAs. I laughed out loud.

Read more about it here and if you are in the Silicon Valley area you should definitely go see this exhibit.

In addition to the opening, several topical events are scheduled to be held at Zero1.

1 Response

  1. October 23, 2013

    […] Peter Patent Pending is a group exhibition that uses patents as a starting point to investigate the […]

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