Spam is ubiquitous. It is part and parcel of our lives. We accept it, somewhat grudgingly, as a cost of our modern super interconnected world. Spam is, to use an analogy, the grit in the grease of our communication machines lubrication system.
Spam combines the old and new. It spirals across information systems. It consumes huge amounts of digital space. But still requires very traditional analog inputs. It, somewhat surprisingly, is a product that utilises diversified and stratified labour systems.
Various forms of what can be considered hand work are involved. Part of it I liken to agriculture. A battle between forces of growth and destruction. Let me explain. Spam requires farms of computers. Software has to be written and scattered to the digital wilderness (like seeds) to take root in the fertile soil of welcoming computers. These seeds germinate and try not to draw attention to themselves. These are the “bot infected networks” that spammers use to mail out their messages. Your computer could be sending advertisements for diet supplements right now. Against them are the people who could be likened to those who weed the unwanted plants from the rows of crops. The people who make anti spam and anti bot/virus software. The Monsanto’s and farm labourers of this strange world. Maybe.
Then there are the harvesters, they gather email addresses. Their harvest is then traded and barterd in markets. And finally, the spammers. The people who create the product which flows out into our world. The process is a mixture of interlinked, almost organic in its structure, interactions.
So for this project I have followed a similar path and farmed or looked into the market place (Taobao sourced drawings for example) for assistance with parts of the work. I have also taken the raw material that was provided me by my spam folder and modified, molded and manipulated it into a new form via Facebook. Which gave it one life.
There are others. I have considered how we consume our digital life, (these days, small portable supercomputers), and incorporated this into the work. Other works are planned or underway. As part of my interest in the beauty of the mundane I am looking at various ways of representing the technology, such as paintings, led signs, spoken word and more.