Collectables investigates the narrative history of found objects which have been left on the streets of Melbourne. Considering in particular domestic objects, which may be rehoused or repurposed, the project evokes a lineage of ownership, linking disparate individuals in a unique narrative traversed by the object. The images produced in this project document a stage in this journey and aim to capture the aura of these personal histories.
The project involves transformations between found object and photographic image. Initially, objects that might be collected by others are located in the street and documented but not removed. Through repeated photographing and processing, a layered image is produced which is then printed in the darkroom. This work is framed and returned to the site of the object to be freely collected by the public. Operating as a form of gift economy, these works enter the narrative thread of the original found object, while also initiating a trajectory of their own.
As Ezz Monem’s Collectables prompts us to see objects around us as ‘found art’, I sought to create an experience of ‘found poetry’ in response. This digital poem simulates the experience encountering an unnamed, unknown object, and then making meaning from it, as it is first perceived, and then recalled and revisited in memory. The poem is influenced by post-structuralist concepts, as well as questions about the definition of art, and thing theory.
Inspired by the use of found objects in the exhibition, I included within this digital poem many adjectives taken from local Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace ads. Using this tool, I stripped text from the ads to create the components of the poem. A random selection of these adjectives appear in the digital poem each time it is played, replicating the sense of spontaneity and ‘foundness’ within Collectables. As the poem unfolds, it expands to include an additional random adjective, taken from a pool of advertisements for second-hand artworks (also from Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree).
Like a found object, a found word looks different depending on how it is situated, and on the narratives that a reader brings to – and creates from – the experience. With an element of randomness, and an element of the viewer’s beliefs about what it means to look at art, a poem is generated, in collaboration with the viewer, and with the unknown owners of the second-hand objects for sale.
To read the digital poem, click this link. Then, click the ‘…’ or bold text to choose your path through the poem.