US artist Andy Bauch has created Lego mosaics that encode money in BitCoins and other crypto-currencies. Can a reader break his codes?
Do you remember my talk about unsolved crimes that include an unsolved cryptogram at the NSA Symposium 2015? For this talk, I created a number of Lego models. The following one shows the Zodiac Killer at Lake Berryessa:
Until recently, I thought that I was the only one who combined cryptography with Lego bricks. But then I read a post by Des Wafler in the Facebook group of the American Cryptogram Association about an artist named Andy Bauch. Apparently, Bauch has found a completely different way to bring crypto and Lego together. I have to admit that his creations are a lot more valuable than mine – they are currently worth over $10,000. It comes as no surprise that Andy Bauch’s current exhibition is titled “New Money”.
Andy Bauch (second from the right, I don’t know who the others are; © Andy Bauch Studio, Los Angeles) …
… was born in 1983 in New York City. He lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. For his “New Money” project, Bauch selected Lego bricks because they are an “eye-catching and familiar childhood hallmark, as his medium of choice to echo the pixelated nature of digitization”.
The artworks Bauch created are Lego mosaics that encode a certain amount of money each. To be more precise, each picture contains the private key to a crypto-currency wallet. The title of each mosaic stands for the crypto-currency that is hidden in its pattern and how much it was worth at the time of creation, which ranges from $10 to $90. At the exhibition, the current value is displayed.
The following picture is titled “$30_BitCoin_SM” (© Andy Bauch Studio, Los Angeles):
If you can break the code, you can keep the BitCoins, provided that you are the first one. The following Lego picture is titled “$90_BitCoin_SM” (© Andy Bauch Studio, Los Angeles):
Not all of Bauch’s mosaics include BitCoins. The Lego bricks of the following artwork encode a wallet (initially valued at $10) for the lesser-known crypto-currency CannabisCoin (© Andy Bauch Studio, Los Angeles):
Can you break the code?
Of course, Andy Bauch doesn’t say how his Lego codes work. He just states that a clever attendee can steal the crypto-currency from the art by decoding the patterns. I don’t know how many attendees have been successful so far and how much of the encoded money has been spent.
So, if you can decode the hidden message in one of the pictures, try to use the wallet and tell us how the code worked. Of course you can also use the comment section to share your ideas about the codes and the artworks.
Further reading: How artists depicted cardsharping with steganography