Dirt and cigarette butts. Sometimes leaves. Definitely asphalt. And lots of iron. Cold, drop cast, emotionally absent metal. These circles pervade our social environment in a way few man-made objects do. At any given moment–with the caveat that you are not reading this in the thick of the jungle or a foggy moor–you are most likely within 100 feet of a manhole cover. They are the stenographers of our time and others’ times. If you pay close attention, you can see a street’s past lively years based on which Bell logo had been featured on its cap. And in our time, you can see what neighborhoods recieve extra attention as fiber communication companies insignate their turf. They are objects of design and aesthetic, however made through a series of municipal choices. And in that, their beauty is the subconscious voice of a culture in a moment in time.
Project Dis.Cover is a digital library of manhole covers collected internationally with a focus in the United States. The collection was run by Andy Anzollitto and Yinan Song from 2013 until 2016. The following is a selection from the library.