“And so I made— did a lot of research, and came up finally with a piece which I thought was appropriate to what most humans think the CIA does, which is operates spies, encode and decode messages, etc. Well, in fact, the NSA are the real coding people. The CIA isn’t. But I figured that since most people think the CIA was the one who kept all the secrets, that did all the encoding, but also kept— that was also fine, because I— you know, it seemed to have a more popular appeal that way.” James Sanborn, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC,September 23, 2005 at 12:30 pm
Interesting that he went with public perception instead of reality. It would appear to me that he was expecting the sculpture to reach public interest at some point. This implies that he thought photos or video or transcripts would somehow make it out of the CIA and to us, the hobbyists.
Now, this interview is 15 years later so it’s all well and good to claim you were expecting something when in reality you just made the same assumption a lot of us made about the CIA and then had to cover for it.
A quote like this does explain the limited scope of the Kryptos sculpture in describing the CIA. It is what most of us would expect to find but in dealing with ciphers, has little to do with the rest of espionage.
The curious thing is that I doubt any of us would have been able to make a better suggestion of what to do.
It makes for some interesting perspective though.