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The Toynbee Tiles
April 7, 2012 1:12 PM   Subscribe

The film Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles just won the U.S. Documentary Competition Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and so we asked puzzlemaker Eric Harshbarger to give The film transcends the tabloid possibilities of this event. I'm struck by the pathos, somewhat discomfited by the personal resonance I felt for the creator of the tiles.
posted by mule98J (21 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously from 2002 (as mentioned in the Wired article).
posted by ShooBoo at 1:20 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I first became aware of the existence of Toynbee Tiles after reading an article on MetaFilter back in 2002."

Toynbee tiles were a Mefi Project gone rogue.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:22 PM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


The movie is just as much about the seekers as the sought...........
posted by cometwendy at 1:50 PM on April 7, 2012


I used to love walking by the one in west Baltimore. I see someone's making mini-Toynbees in Toronto; there's a little humanoid figure in the crosswalk just by York and Wellington where I work.
posted by scruss at 2:15 PM on April 7, 2012


Toynbee tiles were a Mefi Project gone rogue.

Linolem Plaques in my Asphalt Soup
For this project, I've been placing linoleum plaques which have been embedded in the asphalt roadways of major cities throughout the world for over two decades. No real reason for it except that I find it aesthetically pleasing and it makes for an interesting blog entry every time I travel. [more inside]
posted by someone at 4:03 PM, 2001 - 3 comments +
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:17 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's at least one Toynbee tile in downtown Indianapolis. I recall walking past one on my way to work back in the early 80's. I've been interested in them off-and-on over the years. I'd love to see the documentary, though a large part of me would love to just enjoy the mystery.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:25 PM on April 7, 2012


Baltimore Toynbee Tiles, for those of you in Charm City.
posted by sidereal at 2:30 PM on April 7, 2012


@SpacemanStix Common, something that weird would have more then three comments.

Also: The Toynbee Tiles posts; putting the meta in metafilter, or at least the self-referential.
posted by Canageek at 2:32 PM on April 7, 2012


I've seen awesome projects that were voted quite high with almost no comments. There's one with 28 votes and only 2 comments on the current front page, for example.

I've also seen examples of ... lesser ... projects that received no votes, but a lot of sympathy comments.

I have no idea where this hypothetical would be.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:38 PM on April 7, 2012


I love the Toynbee Tiles.

I'll have to find a way to watch this movie. It looks interesting. Sadly EPIX is one of the very few packages on my satellite service that I don't get.
posted by hippybear at 3:13 PM on April 7, 2012


There was one near the NE corner of Ninth St. and Pennsylvania Ave., NW in D.C. for ~5-6 years, but it was paved over ca. 2007. It was a welcome bit of mysterious creepiness when I was working a sometimes tedious job nearby.
posted by ryanshepard at 3:17 PM on April 7, 2012


I found one at the end of the I-95 off-ramp exit 55 in Branford, CT. Sent them a picture. They made a trip to see it in person and invited me to join them at the site, but unfortunately I had to travel that weekend.

I wrote and recorded a demo of a song for the movie, too, which unfortunately they didn't use!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:24 PM on April 7, 2012


You can rent or buy the movie through iTunes....
posted by cometwendy at 4:00 PM on April 7, 2012


Yeah, I saw that. Although I can purchase the DVD for the same price, and will probably do that. No interest in renting movies, and buying a movie through iTunes locks it down too much for my tastes.

It's on my "add this to an order to get it over Super Saver Shipping threshold" list. I'll get it eventually.
posted by hippybear at 4:48 PM on April 7, 2012


I see someone's making mini-Toynbees in Toronto; there's a little humanoid figure in the crosswalk just by York and Wellington where I work.

there's another on the southwest corner of dundas and McCaul - I think it looks like a robot.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:20 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ha! I just found a fresh one in Portland OR not too long ago.
posted by bhance at 5:51 PM on April 7, 2012


That little robot has replaced the Toynbee tile near the Naval Memorial Metro station in DC. Seriously meta.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:56 PM on April 7, 2012


Crikey, that was just about 10 years ago. Time flies.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:05 PM on April 7, 2012


Nice! I interviewed Justin (the main dude in the film) awhile back after he had contacted me many years ago about my own pic of a tile in DC from the late 90s.

If you haven't seen it, you should. It's a great movie.
posted by sleepy pete at 8:56 PM on April 7, 2012


oh wait, that's a really old article... yeah, just watch the movie.
posted by sleepy pete at 8:58 PM on April 7, 2012


I spotted a couple of the Baltimore Toynbee tiles and assumed they were a local phenomenon. It blew my mind when I learned they were nationwide.

I definitely want to see the movie; it'll probably hit Netflix streaming sooner or later.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:32 AM on April 8, 2012


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