Two art projects involving the documentation of every item that the artist owns is as straightforward as one can get in material culture: Refinery 29 covers the project Every Little Thing by Corey Vaughn and Emily Okada while T Magazine covers a project by Hong Hao.
The immediate questions that come to mind include the environmental impact of our consumptive habits and our consumerist culture; what our throwaway culture says about our relationships to things; and how might the digital documentation of things change our relationship to them.
The last question is, for me, the most interesting one (and the least hackneyed idea in material culture presently) because never before have we so easily been able to digitally document anything and everything, let alone easily access this record. The digital camera and how much we can store on so little a device means that we could, in theory, take the contents of our whole house with us anywhere, or at least a representation of what we own. And if we put those photos in a constant rotating gallery, would our constant reminder of things we may have seen only a handful of times otherwise make us more or less attached to them?
Ways to categorize images may even reveal different truths about our objects and ultimately about us: we could sort things by color, by category (kitchenware versus clothing), relative date of acquisition, and, perhaps, even price of object if such a functionality were ever built in to this hypothetical app. Then, like Spotify, we would know a lot more about what we buy and when and how much we typically spend (think of the value of that data to retailers!). After all, that’s in large part what material culture is: the study of stuff and what it says about us.
Every Little Thing by Corey Vaughn and Emily Okada
Hong Hao, My Things- Book Keeping of 06 B