Jailhouse Tech

A cooker made out of a house brick and heating element

A makeshift cooking stove, an example of what Kevin Kelly of Street Use has dubbed ‘Jailhouse Tech’. More examples, plus an interview with artist Toño Vega Macotela.

See also: Prisoners’ Inventions, recreated from diagrams by prisoner/artist Angelo, and Escape Tools, photographed by Marc Steinmetz.

I’m fascinated by these objects in and of themselves, but also by the fact that, in all the examples I could find, it is artists doing the documenting, and not just for the obvious, dubious, voyeuristic reasons.

Macotela’s work is particularly good stuff, and was suggested by the prisioners–“We take normal objects and give them new meaning”–while he was engaged in a project to trade time and skills with them.

One prisoner showed Macotela how to kill a man with a shoelace, in return for Macotela teaching his daughter to read, another recorded his every heartbeat for three hours by marking a piece of paper, and Macotela cooked for the prisoner’s family.