Dear Jim,

Some of us had a few questions about Kryptos and were hoping to have the chance to ask you about them.  We’re hoping that if we approach it in a sane and rational way that you might be interested and respond.

We’re not trying to trick you into a hint, sometimes it just helps to understand how someone thinks and get some background context.  Our hope is that then we might be able to understand what you did a little better and maybe get one step closer to being able to figure it out.  Please don’t feel like we expect you to answer every question, any new bit of information is very valuable and we respect your time and privacy so it’s perfectly understandable if your responses are limited but please feel at liberty to elaborate if you want.

  • What music were you and your assistants listening to as you worked?
  • What were you thinking about on the trip to the Southwest to pick up the petrified log: last minute changes, different ideas, imagining how it would be received, worried it would be cracked too soon; worried it would stand unsolved too long?
  • In retrospect, what would you have done differently?
  • What had you wanted to do but couldn’t due to resources and restrictions?
  • Has anyone who has contacted you come close on even part of a solution?
  • What is the significance of the Morse code?
  • The CIA’s online description of the project mentions, “at the entrance to the New Headquarters building, the sculpture begins with two red granite and copperplate constructions which flank the walkway from the parking deck. These stones appear as pages jutting from the earth with copperplate ‘between the pages’ on which there are International Morse code and ancient ciphers.”  What are the ancient ciphers?
  • Especially since it required so much work to carve the letters, the message must have been of enough importance to be worth the effort.  Could you explain the intent/message you were trying to convey in the 1st three sections?
  • Do you think the 4th part has already been solved and what reason could the CIA have for not disclosing that fact?
  • Mr. Sanborn, to our knowledge, the Kryptos piece as a whole is: the Morse code sheets, the sundial, the pyramidal rock, the reflecting pools, the grass, the granite slabs in the courtyard and then of course the tree-sheet-pool centerpiece.  What, if anything, else was also part of the piece?
  • Is Kryptos a stand-alone piece or does it incorporate preexisting elements of the New Headquarters Building or even the old building?
  • Who were your assistants during your work on Kryptos?  Have they moved on with their own artwork and how did Kryptos influence it?
  • How did Agency history impact the message and presentation of Kryptos?
  • How would you then and now characterize your stance on the CIA (+/-)?
  • There are rumors of an as yet uncovered portion of Kryptos, would say that is more less likely than an openly hidden message?
  • Why do you think K4 remains officially unsolved?
  • What was it like being in a relationship with your girlfriend with this secret K4 message?  What was her response prior to and after you divulged?
  • Would you consider selling the answer and if so what would be enough to convince you to give it up?
  • In light of Chaocipher revelations, will the answer to the 4th part be immediately revealed upon your death or simply available for confirmation upon a successful decryption?
  • Do we really need the KryptosClue site or confirmation to know when we have the decrypted text?
  • Did you learn much history during the planning stages or was it confined to cryptology/intelligence gathering?
  • Would you say that the resiliency of the 4th part is through poor intelligence gathering or poor cryptology and why?
  • Do you wish they’d let you install a light-source?
  • Do you feel the copperplate would have been better suited for the NSA?
  • Did you develop Kryptos based on factual explanations of the CIA’s history/actions or more on public perceptions?
  • What are your political and/or economic leanings?
  • Did you ever intend or anticipate public interest in Kryptos or was it meant solely for the CIA?  Why?
  • Would you encourage or discourage amateur attempts on K4?  Why?
  • Would you rather the CIA or a regular person solve K4 and why?
  • How do you feel about media portrayals of the CIA?
  • If a book about Kryptos were ever written, how would you contribute to it?
  • What inspired you to use a large metal screen with letters punched through?
  • How did your parents’ careers affect your work?
  • Are you a fan of history/history buff?  If so, what is your area or period of interest?
  • What languages are you fluent in?
  • After the Church and Pike committees, Watergate, Iran-Contras, etc. what effect did that have on the genesis of Kryptos?
  • Did you have to sign security waivers before beginning to work on Kryptos?  Did you have to get vetted?
  • Why do you think all of the hobbyists have failed to solve K4?
  • Did you go to Vietnam?  If so, how did that color your views on the CIA?
  • Who are your role models and why?
  • How do you interpret the 1st 3 sections in relation to the CIA?
  • How do you feel doing public installations for government buildings has molded the direction your art has gone in?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What kind of sculpture would you make for the NSA?
  • Would you have enjoyed working for the CIA?
  • If not art, what would you have ended up doing for a living?
  • Did you ever visit Berlin?  Before or after the wall came down?
  • What countries have you been to?
  • What are you currently working on?
  • Palimpsest and abscissa carry connotations of teaching/classrooms, is there any credence to this association and what other context could they have?
  • Were you trying to teach a lesson in cryptology, intelligence gathering or send a message?
  • Should CIA personnel be able to solve Kryptos with pencil and paper?
  • Did the CIA ever approach you for direct help?
  • Is the 4th part of Kryptos enciphered by a cipher machine?
  • With a lot of interest being solution-focused, do we lose sight of the artistry of the Kryptos elements?  Are they significant to the solution?
  • What reference materials would you recommend for amateur cryptologists, especially in reference to Kryptos?
  • Is it digetal interpretatu (commonly accepted) or digetal interpretatit (less commonly accepted)?
  • Without giving too much away, are the E’s in the Morse code aesthetic placeholders or part of the message?
  • As an auditory code, what was the rationale behind using Morse code as a visual code?
  • Is Kryptos more of a political or a social piece and why?
  • In the 1992 movie Sneakers, which character would you be and why?
  • In a post-apocalyptic, zero-sum world where the CIA buildings and grounds are reduced to charred rubble and only the copperplate screen of Kryptos remains, could the survivors decipher it and follow the directions to learn the full message?  Would it remain relevant then?
  • As we progressed from analog to machine ciphers and now to digetal, do you think Kryptos may actually become progressively harder to solve as cryptologists become less acquainted with the cipher systems in use except as historical precedents?
  • If the cryptologist guessed at the 2 systems used in K4, would it then become vulnerable to a brute force attack?
  • In light of SALT, START and detente, is Kryptos a Cold War relic or prophetic harbinger of piece?
  • Is your Kryptos narrative more Ian Fleming or JJ Abrams?
  • Would you consider Kryptos a cipher lecture, a puzzle game or a message?
  • How often are you approached about Kryptos?
  • Do you think Kryptos is influenced more by your personal history or the history of the CIA?
  • Did you know much about the history of the CIA before Kryptos?  Did you learn much before or after?
  • Was Kryptos originally meant to be a cylinder similar to a Jefferson wheel but was then unrolled as a symbolic wall?
  • Can Kryptos be seen as a symbolic metaphor of how 2 people or nations can see each other through a wall of code?
  • What did you know or learn about Scheidt through working on Kryptos with him?
  • Did you ever have a baffled/projection night-light as a kid?
  • Was Kryptos inspired by shadows cast by public lighting in DC at night?
  • Was Kryptos inspired by the shielded hurricane lamps found in older spy or adventure novels?
  • Did you ever protest the war?
  • Did you ever live on a commune?
  • Were you active in the Civil Rights efforts?
  • Why wear a beard?
  • Day vs. night, seen vs. unseen, do you see Kryptos as a progenitor of your large format projection work?  What is the appeal to you of art that is different or visible/unseen at different times and seasons?
  • Who was the fiction author who was supposed to help?
  • You and Kim in the 2005 WIRED interview talk about a solution to the text once it’s decoded.  Out of K1-3 there doesn’t seem to be a mysterious message or puzzle.  Are we missing something or does that become clear with the K4 text?
  • Is the 4th part 97 or 98 letters?
  • Do you consider Kryptos to be the copperplate sheet or the Morse code and reflection pools as well?
  • What can you tell us about the Morse code?
  • The CIA website mention of the ancient ciphers is not mentioned anywhere else and there is no online evidence for them, is that an agency error or are those outside of Langley unaware of some portions of Kryptos?
  • What do you think of the new Bond movie?
  • Can we see with our eyes all of Kryptos or should we borrow some equipment if we ever visit the CIA?
  • How does Kryptos symbolize or embody intelligence gathering?
  • Why is the 4th part so secretive and significant in comparison to the rest?
  • There’s some confusion generated by the 2005 WIRED interview.  Usually the keywords are changed and maybe the order of cryptographic systems but it sounds like you changed the actual systems and invented a few.  Is this the case?
  • Do you ever check in on us?
  • Who do you think is most likely to solve K4?
  • How do you feel the message in K4 and Kryptos altogether will resonate in light of current events?
  • Have you been approached with any offers of money or otherwise to reveal the answer?
    • Could we fundraise enough to bribe you?
  • Is the actual code/cipher breaking secondary to the actual process of understanding what Kryptos really means?
  • Why make the 1st three parts so “easy” if the last part was going to be so “hard”?
  • Any advice for people who “get so close” after a complicated multi-step decryption effort who are convinced that they just need more steps or help to solve it?
  • Any words of wisdom for folks who find arbitrary, small bits of apparent plain text as a byproduct of their decryption efforts?  Should they consider these breaks or coincidence?
  • Should we give up on traditional or historical cryptosystems and look more for the artistic/intuitive ones that might be present?
  • To quote William K. Harvey, are we asking the wrong questions?

Thank you so very much for your time and patience! -Your fans

Kryptosfan

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