Caleb Larson is one of those modern artists where you aren’t quite sure if his artwork is brilliant, or he’s just brilliantly duping the art world. His $10,000 Dollar Sculpture consists of the bill acceptor from a vending machine. It accepts money, with the goal of eventually raising $10,000 to be split by the artist and the owner. Clever, but is it art?
I think so, though I tend to be more liberal and accepting of modern art. It’s meant to be commentary on the status of art as commodity, and the value that art assumes. It was featured as a part of the exhibit The Value of Nothing, which perhaps adds a bit of necessary context to the piece.
Larsen’s greatest work though (in my opinion), is A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter. It’s a black box with an ethernet cable that sells itself on eBay every seven days. Larsen’s website says of the work:
“Combining Robert Morris’ Box With the Sound of Its Own Making with Baudrillard’s writing on the art auction this sculpture exists in eternal transactional flux. It is a physical sculpture that is perptually attempting to auction itself on eBay. Every ten minutes the black box pings a server on the internet via the ethernet connection to check if it is for sale on the eBay. If its auction has ended or it has sold, it automatically creates a new auction of itself. If a person buys it on eBay, the current owner is required to send it to the new owner. The new owner must then plug it into ethernet, and the cycle repeats itself.”
I think this is a hilarious concept for a work of art. It really is an ephemeral piece, almost more of a game than something to display. The funniest part is that it sells. There’s a permalink to the current eBay auction, where you can see it’s current “value.” It just sold for $6,858.
This is clearly another commentary on art commerce, but it also adds a completely unique property to the artwork itself. It fundamentally alters what it means to own the work of art. The plain, geometric physical component also emphasizes the overwhelming conceptual nature of A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter. I wouldn’t buy it, but I’m glad that Larsen produced such an interesting, provocative work.