Transformations: Actions to Matter / Matter to Actions
Above: Items accumulated to date (09/10/2015) as part of Transformations. Click image to see detailed photos.
Transformations: Actions to Matter / Matter to Actions (2015 – ongoing) is a series of performative actions employing what is colloquial termed as the ‘free stuff’ online community. Each action occurs in two parts. Part one, titled Actions to Matter, consists of the artist acquiring physical items for free online. In part two, Matter to Actions, the acquired items are sold online.
Transformations addresses three interrelated subjects. The first is the concept of transformation itself. Actions that are performed on the internet are considered to occur within a ‘virtual’ or digital context. Items that are acquired as a result of actions are physically manifested in ‘real’ contexts. Within the work a transformation occurs from ‘virtual’ to ‘real’ and then back to ‘virtual’ again. The internet is both the staging ground for initiating transformation and the final destination for the items acquired and the documentation produced. Combined, the transformation from ‘virtual’ to ‘real’ and then back again, form a transformative action.
The second subject of Transformations is the framing of actions as performative and the suggestion that the acquired items become artworks as part of that process. Employing appropriation as a strategy, the work explores the misconception of art as residing within a final crafted, physical and as a result commodifiable object. Each acquired item is positioned as the outcome of a performative action however the item alone is not the artwork. The artwork is the combined process of acquiring and redistributing all the items; the performative actions, the accumulated documentation in all its forms, the items, each and every exhibition of them and their final return to the internet. The acquired items, effectively products, are instead proposed, as is their documentation, as one form of remnant of the performative actions undertaken. However the items only remain collected together temporarily and as such should not be viewed as the climactic point of the artwork.
Finally Transformations addresses the subject of labour as performance. While the actions are framed as performance within the context of the artwork, the actions often equally consist of labour for others e.g. contributing to data harvesting or the crowd-sourcing of a task. Additionally the labour is disguised as free stuff, competitions, games and so forth. Viewed as labour, performance within the work becomes a quantifiable endeavour. Each attempt to acquire an item is a success or failure, each sale of an item is a success or failure and so transformative actions either succeed or fail in their overall aim to move from ‘virtual’ to ‘real’ and then back to ‘virtual’ again. Time committed to each performative action is necessary for each to occur, no more and no less, and how these have occurred over the duration of the work are documented in the dated weblog posts keeping a record of when the artist has clocked-in and out to perform similar to a employee’s timesheet.
Deleuze, G., (1961). Bersonism. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. New York: Zone.
Sloan, R., (2012). Dancing the Flip-Flop. [online] robinsloan.com. Available at: http://www.robinsloan.com/note/flip-flop/ [Accessed 23rd September 2016].