Caleb Larsen

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A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter, 2009

Perpetual online auction, internet connection, custom programming and hardware, acrylic cube, 8" x 8" x 8"

7,500 USD

The work, A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter, is an eight-inch (20cm) high gloss black cube. Inside the hollow box is a small micro-controller and an Ethernet adapter. Like a pair of umbilical cords, the power cord and Ethernet cable, trail out of the box to the wall. Every ten minutes, a computer program running on the micro-controller contacts another program running on an Internet server which checks if it has an active auction on eBay. If an auction does not exist, then it creates a new listing for itself. As a result, the piece is constantly for sale. In the event the piece is purchased, the contract (which is included in the auction listing) stipulates that the work is to be packaged up and transferred to the new owner, who then, also according to the contract, must connect it to the Internet. The sculpture automatically places itself for sale again and the cycle repeats.

Generally speaking, when a work of art is purchased, it is done so for a collection. Art collections are often seen as investments. As with most investments, it is hoped that it will accrue value and may be divested at a chosen time for a profit. A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter dematerializes the status of art work as collectable. It undermines the ability of the collector to maintain ownership of the piece for an indefinite period of time. Regardless of whose collection it is in, be it a private party or public institution, it is always for sale, and anyone can buy it at any time via the Internet.

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