The Mysterious Toynbee Tiles: Decades Old Urban Legend

The Mysterious Toynbee Tiles: Decades Old Urban LegendA decades-old urban legend, Toynbee Tiles, make for a compelling tale. Jon Foy, Justin Duerr, Colin Snow and Steve Weinik combined their shared passion about the tiles to make fascinating documentary, “Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles.” The film’s website describes the phenomenon – a sort of detective story for freaks: “Toynbee tiles are at once the most under-appreciated guerrilla art campaign and one of the most intriguing mysteries of our time.” There’s no denying the cryptic message (picture) coupled with the mystery tiler’s creativity and efforts (there are hundreds of tiles), will generate intrigue. The filmmakers are artists from Philadelphia where a majority of the tiles can be found in the city’s busy intersections. Duerr became fascinated with the license plate sized graffiti as a teenager, researching the linoleum tiles apparently affixed to streets with tar and asphalt glue. The four united their creative energies to focus on the puzzle presented by the “Toynbee Idea” they grew up seeing and still curious about its meaning. The primary message contained in the graffiti almost always a close variant: “Toynbee Idea, In Movie 2001, Resurrect Dead, On Planet Jupiter.” The message seems no less than graffiti from Mars! A 2011 Philadelphia Weekly article provides story behind making of the documentary. An earlier article at Damn Interesting website shares roots of Toynbee Tiles that grew into an urban legend and covers efforts of another researcher, Bill O’Neill. Did the documentary identify mystery tiler? Do they decipher message? The filmmakers came closer than they thought. You’ll have to read and view the documentary to find out – good stuff! You may drop below the fold to view documentary trailer for a mystery of life that couldn’t be better!

Leave a Reply