Surreptitious Artwork

chip graffiti

I was kicked out of Axel Scherer’s Applied Phys 9 lab at Caltech.

We were learning about the process of MOSFET fabrication, and I had etched “FU ELI” on the center of my chip using photoresist and hydrofluoric acid. Eli was my TA. I thought he was a dick.

Eli and Axel were not amused.

Chip designers have long hidden surreptitious messages and artwork in silicon layout. Outsiders are surprised at the artistic ability of engineers, but it’s the hardware engineers who most need creative outlets for the repression that comes with arranging millions of transistors in humorless functions.

Humans are inherently artists and will use whatever media they can to express themselves. As Barnacle’s user base grows, I have this quiet fear that someday a user is going to hide a phallic symbol on our home page road map. Maybe this fear is born of my own desire to see if I can use our nation’s roadways to route obscene graffiti.

Maybe this is the emotional repression that comes from writing thousands of lines of python code.


See Also:
The Secret Art Of Chip Graffiti –IEEE Spectrum
Silicon Zoo
Chipworks Silicon Art Library

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s