Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Zero Sum Art Project

Most art seems very mysterious. You don't really know how people arrive at their prices, what their materials and techniques are, or where their ideas come from. "Mixed media" or "found objects" isn't really information to my detail-oriented Teutonic mind. Marc Snyder's Zero Sum Art Project isn't like most art. In his ZSAP blog, Marc says "One thing I'm striving for is to make the whole studio process, along with my attempts to follow this set of rules that I invented for myself, as visible to the viewer as possible." This includes lists of his expenses, the materials purchased for the project and even some hints at his creative process.

His rules:
*Artwork can be made only with free/found materials or materials purchased with proceeds from the sale of Zero Sum artworks.

*Zero Sum artwork will be sold on eBay, with the opening bid based solely on the costs of the materials and the auction fees related to the artwork being sold.

*If the artwork sells for a greater amount than the opening bid, any "profit" must go directly back in to the Zero Sum studio.

*If the Zero Sum Art Project is in the red with a balance of negative $5.00 for longer than 2 weeks, the studio collapses and the project is over.

The first artwork was made with free materials: "Heart of Georgia Technical Institute pencil and Radisson Hotel pen on Anti-Defamation League notepad paper." The opening ebay price was $1.77, exactly the cost of the listing. It sold for $22.72.

Zero sum #12 is up for auction on ebay until April 15.

I find this all fascinating. So much that normally remains hidden is revealed for the viewer's scrutiny. Reading over Marc's list of materials, I wonder what he used white spray paint for? Most artists start out by learning techniques, in school, from books or from friends. Over time they probably accumulate a store of invented or adapted processes. What do other people do in the privacy of their studios? Is there an "art secret" that I need to know, to make better work myself? Can I find it in Marc's list of materials?

And no, he's not paying me to say this, he's not my brother-in-law. It's a coincidence that I have mentioned Marc in two recent blog entries.

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