A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter

A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter (2009) – Caleb Larsen


I think this is not just quite good art… but possibly great art.

It’s a little black box that sits there – and it’s wired up to the web, and once a week it sells itself on Ebay (Link to screengrab, because the actual ebay link will probably change)

In the last 12 hours or so, the bidding price has gone from 2.5k to 4.5k… and 15% of every sale goes back to the artist. The person who buys it gets to keep it for a week, then it sells itself again – if they want it for another week, they have to buy it again. If they unplug it, they get to keep it forever, but it destroys the point of it, and everyone thinks they’re a wanker.

I think it’s great art because the shape, and the name, and what it does, are unrelenting… it’s an unrelenting mirror on darker slants on the human condition… selling itself again and again. And it has a 7 day week.

I once worked in this meat-packing factory on a conveyor belt handling 20kg frozen slabs. There was this old guy at the other end of a conveyor belt from me who was like a machine – strong as fuck and unstoppable… and I had to keep up, and couldn’t. It was quite frightening. This black box reminds me of him – an unstoppable self-selling machine. It should be ugly, but it’s not. It’s just blank. Like a midget one of those 2001 A Space Odyssey things.

A while back I mentioned this thing about story being used to sell things with no intrinsic value... this is a really cool example of that. It has hardly any aesthetic value (unless you’re into platonic solids or that thing on the cover of Led Zep’s Presence)… It’s pure story – but it’s actually quite a good story.

It’s also an interesting experiment to see how long it lasts… whether people will keep paying for it. How many people keep paying for it… how the price fluctuates. It’s like the million dollar home page, but instead of a million pixels, there’s just one black 3D one.

I quite like the way it’s a black cube as well – because art galleries are more often than not, white cubes. It’s like the opposite of the space that it’s sold from – but nastily incisive distillate of the whole point of the space that it sits in. To sell our culture over and over and over. It’s like the dark side of the force.

Cheers to Alex, for pointing it out :)

1 Comment » for A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter
  1. Excellent find. Well described. Greatness conveyed.

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  1. […] why stop there? Breed them with The Machine To Deceive and Slaughter, and get them to sell their children on Ebay themselves. Social […]