The Obsolescence Project — The Usefulness of Useless Things
August 2015: I am presenting the project as a slide projection of thirty-one 35 mm slides, to represent one calendar month at the Vancouver Art Gallery Fuse as part of ISEA 2015. These images are currently featured on the front page of this site.
Initially begun as a 30 day project documenting things that are obsolescing in my life, I’ve now gathered steam and am continuing on until I run out of objects. Everyday I will photograph things hanging around in my studio (or bring them from my apartment) that I am classifying as either obsolete, or becoming obsolete. In a nutshell — clutter.
As an artist, I have kept a lot of stuff. Thinking one day it might have some kind of value. Not eBay value (although there’s that too) but become an idea for a project. Possibly I’ve imagined these things might magically assemble themselves into another type of object, present themselves to me as a story or at least a lead on a narrative that I want to pursue. I’m not giving up that hope, but I am hoping that by documenting their presence, I might detach from them and make the leap towards shoving (some of ) them out the door.
Things become obsolete so fast now. Obsolescence is deliberately planned into many objects. The camera I’m using to photograph these is already obsolete.
A Nikon D-5000. It’s only 12mb! I haven’t even figured out how to use it fully yet. This is also a goal for this project.
Inspired by a ton of blogs, Joseph Beuys and a story by Walter Benjamin whose name I’ve forgotten.
A Brief History of Stuff
A few years ago I spent about 3 months in Quebec City doing an artist-in-residency. Two things happened.
1. While we were away (we sublet our apt – my partner stayed in Montreal), our apartment was broken into. Nothing much was taken. The police said they were looking for cash. We realized we wouldn’t miss too much of our stuff.
2. 3 months passed.
When we got home, we seriously decluttered. We sold stuff on craigslist, in garage sales, gave a lot away to the Sally Ann, and threw out and recycled a bunch of stuff.
Fast forward a few years and here I am again with a bit of stuff I haven’t let go of.
I guess I am more attached to these things. I don’t perceive them as clutter, as they have “art value” (see above) or something like that.
I wished I’d thought of documenting all that stuff we got rid of then. I’m inspired to document this stuff now. I might not get rid of it though. We’ll see how it goes.
Deanne Achong is an artist living in Vancouver, BC who has yet to throw away a lot of stuff.
The Obsolescence Project by Deanne Achong is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://projectobso.com/.