Installation view showing video projection
Digital file of "things" collected from the SketchUp database
Particulate Matter: Things, Thingys, Thingies
Mixed media (cardboard, foamcore, colored paper, fabric), wooden pallets, digital video projection, exhibition checklist. At Gallery 400, University of Illinois Chicago, September 2010
My handmade versions of over seventy objects designed by users of the free 3-D modeling program Google SketchUp exist somewhere between the bootleg, the copy, and the translation. Modeled from online designs that seem to lack value or utility, these strange objects explore the handmade in the digital-era of design, uniqueness found even within the copy, and collaboration’s relationship to outsourcing, as well as labor, authorship, and value.
Designed as a simple and easy-to-use version of CAD software, SketchUp has garnered a growing following of amateur designers who use it to model virtually everything from common household items to fantasy architectural designs. These digital designs can be uploaded to a freely-accessible database to “share” with other SketchUp users in their own projects.
I chose the objects based on their status as being nebulous and fuzzy. Mostly defined as "things" or "thingies," these virtual objects defied definition and lacked a utilitarian or recognizable reason for existence. But as objects uploaded to a shared database, they were somehow considered by their creators as valuable enough to want to make accessible to the general public. Unwanted and unloved, these "Thingies" float in a virtual version of outer space, and remind me of the notion of space junk—these random objects that increasingly clutter our world as offshoots and debris.
Over seventy objects were hand-constructed out of basic materials and laid out on wooden moving pallets, creating a layout that encouraged visitors to wander through pathways. The low platforms, usually associated with transporting bulk goods, served as a reminder of the physicallity of labor processes. The works were physically challenging and taxing to make, and I did my best as an outsourced worker to fabricate works that were never meant to see the light of day.
A map and exhibition checklist accompanied the show, allowing the visitors to wander through and find out more on the original designer's remarks ("random," "i dunno wat this is," etc).