S.P.A.M. OFFICE appears to be a traditional modernist office setting; uniform office furniture has been made from cheap, low quality materials. S.P.A.M. Officers check e-mails, detect spam, print and file content in the S.P.A.M. Archive, poetically supporting the decorum of bureaucracy. They wear the uniform and logo of the ‘firm’, and monotonously disarm the spam to which the office is subjected. More.
This is the print I did (or produced) through the Spam Office as an officer during my volunteer in the project: simply a repeated line of words “murders, terrorism, sneak attacks, back stabbings” randomly found and infiltrated through thousands of junk emails. I’m interested in this process of working, and this mechanism of this performative-installation: a functioning office with officers work for the artist, and as soon as the first print was printed out, there brought the question: who made the work?
As Spam Officers, we have fully control of the email examine process, and also printing, archiving, editing, under the artist’s authorization. Although the final print out is decided by the artists from the materials -highlighted phrases or InDesign prints we made. This process is the process of the exchange of ownership: it’s a particular work (or maybe sub-work? Since it’s a production under the Office, which is a work arguably) done under the officer’s (individually, sometimes collectively) within a particular system designed by the artist that its aim is to produce artworks via its officers. Is it the artist’s or the officer’s work remained debatable, but this questions arisen around the ownership of the work is interesting.
Go back to the print itself, quite apparently, it’s in a style of mass-printed posters or of propaganda slogans: large typo (comparably), simple phrases and has strong visual impact on viewers. “murders, terrorism, sneak attacks, back stabbings”, these words and phrases are highly recognizable, meanwhile negative and aggressive, often appears in media headlines. This text was found in a (comparably interesting) junk email, it was about a random story and at the end it seemed to try to sell a novel, and the email content probably is more or less relevant to the story itself. It has some really filthy, pulp content (sex, violence likewise) from which I found the text. The text itself is nothing special really, we can see it from everywhere, including our emails and TV news, so therefore it’s just a piece of “found text”, it’s nothing significant or unique, not even constructed literally; it’s just a tiny slice of this constant flow of information, and even the information has no origin for itself; We accepted these wide-spread (probably needed a stronger word here) as common thing, though horrible, but still as if they are part of our life, we somehow are experiencing these terrible things but alienated to them-using a Baudrillardian term, it’s a Simulacra of the real, a hyperreality: we are drowning in this constant flow, this Simulacra, and this had become our reality. In this particular case, this tiny slice of the huge, infinite salami, ended up being “cut” out by an officer, replicated into repeating text as how it was replicated before it appeared as an “information slice”, approved to print by an artist, replicated again into a number of prints, and one of these replicate prints was framed and became an art work and being shown. It reminds me of Duchamp’s readymade, maybe I should call it a pice of “found text”, though text is something enormously different.
The thing I found important is the repetition of the text. This is what intrigued me for a while, the repetition. As I mentioned before in previous post, repetition is really problematic, it’s something that has really simple principle that can do really opposite things: it could potentially emphasize, strengthen the meaning of the original, or even giving the meaning to something being repeated; or alienate, nihilate or “empty” it. Or, in the third cases, simply as a way of duplicating the original-it often happens in graphic design to produce patterns. Taking these elements together, repetition then should be regarded a process of changing, its effect we could easily see from what we discussed above: the uncontrollable mechanism of replicating information, like virus.
The repetition hides its form into so many aspects of the universe, the nature, our society and also our life. It seems to be a universal and fundamental thing: a process of accumulation, or maybe duplication to emphasize, to grow, and ultimately, to change. If we think about how language was invented, how people recognize something, and how people memorize something ect. It’s a like generic process, like the DNA. And along with the process, “meaning”, has been created.
Bringing it back to a contemporary social or political context, repetition has been used in so many ways affecting people’s mind. It appears as an ideological weapon - a brain-washing process – in mass media, mass culture, ads etc. They all have a hint of repetition: a repeating “formula” in mass-produced cultural products, though probably in a various eye-catching, fascinating appearance. During many periods throughout human history, this means was used widely in propaganda as well.
It seems to be a Marxian dialectic process between quantity change and quality change. Though all quantity change will lead to quality change according to Marx, it could still go to two extremes and in many cases it’s its opposite- leads to self-deconstruction, clichés or nihilation.