Interactive Art

A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter

Price: Anerkennung - Honorary Mentions

Caleb Larsen (US)


Cyberarts 2011 - International Compendium Prix Ars Electronica 2011

A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter is an eight-inch (10 cm) high-gloss black cube. Inside the hollow box is a small micro-controller and an Ethernet adapter. Like a pair of umbilical cords, the power cord and Ethernet cable, trail out of the box to the wall. Every ten minutes, a computer program running on the micro-controller contacts another program running on an Internet server, which checks whether it has an active auction on eBay. If there is no auction, then it creates a new listing for itself. As a result, the piece is constantly for sale. If it is purchased, the contract (which is included in the auction listing) stipulates that the work is to be packed up and transferred to the new owner, who then, also according to the contract, must connect it to the Internet. The sculpture automatically puts itself up for sale again and the cycle repeats.

Generally speaking, when a work of art is purchased it is for a collection. Art collections are often seen as investments. As with most investments, it is hoped that it will accrue value and may later be sold at a chosen time for a profit. A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter dematerializes the status of the art work as collectable. It undermines the ability of the collector to retain ownership of the piece for an indefinite period of time. Regardless of whose collection it is in, whether a private party or public institution, it is always for sale, and anyone can buy it at any time via the Internet.