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Auction Art Accumulations

By Rhizome

Artists have been using eBay.com since the online commerce website began. Many have performatively sold their souls, ethnicity, gender, and life's possessions, making the site a very public platform for internet-based narratives and meditations on the nature of public exchange. Generally, however, the artist plays the role of seller. It would seem, in fact, that the only other (and much less popular) option is to play the role of buyer. William Boling does neither in his net art project, 'Peel.' He's simply an observer, interested in the very hermeneutics of his transaction-less observations. On Peel, Boling presents his collection of jpg images, scraped from product pages. He says of the highly-popular site, 'In 2006 it is reasonable to infer that more than a billion pictures were made for eBay sells and were examined in many instances multiple times. The vast majority of these images are confected for the purposes of the sell and will be erased.' Boling keeps the jpegs in circulation while presenting them in haiku-like trios, hinting at their discarded context and concocting a new narrative, in the tradition of dialectical montage. Whereas the images once had a narrowly-restricted, easily-read meaning, they now signify in new ways. Yet, ultimately, Boling is not so free from the constrictions of economic models. His curation of sixty images, out of a personal collection of thousands, puts his 'consumption' on display, creating a material trace of his net-surfing habits. Fortunately, the objects he collects aren't subject to escrow. - Marisa Olson

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