Another packaging-related artwork from last weekend’s “Mapping Staten Island” show: Cynthia Von Buhler’s Cynth-O-Matic vending machine. This interactive sculpture caught me off guard and I was putting quarters into it before I had really sorted out my (art-consumer) choices carefully.
“This one has some color,” I thought to myself, “I’ll have one of those…” [turned the handle—made my first purchase] “Oh, it’s menstrual blood… hmmm, what were my other choices? Eyelashes, fingernail clippings, hair, pubic hair… OK, I’ll buy one more capsule, but I cannot be the guy who comes in here and buys only menstrual blood & pubic hair, so I guess I’ll have to go with the fingernails…”
The Cynth-O-Matic machine soon separated this doddering old fool and his money (Photos above by Debby Davis)
Although the capsules’ labels claim that their contents are “100% Genuine” I do have some doubts about their authenticity. As a collector, I don’t want to open these capsules (thereby diminishing their resale value) but, to my eyes, the fingernails look a little plastic and the red seems too bright. (Doesn’t blood dry out and turn brown?) Plus, hair and fingernails take a while to grow. We covered another reliquary type fingernail artwork (here) and, in that case, it took the artist a long time to accumulate a quantity of fingernail clippings. Of course if the contents of Von Behler’s capsules turn out not to be genuine then what I lose as fetish object, I gain in commentary on truth-in-advertising. Her website has this to say about the project:
Have you ever noticed that when you go to an art opening, many people are more focused on the artist than the artwork? Frequently, art viewers do not seriously look at the art. Usually they drink the wine, eat the cheese, and show more interest in the artist than in their art. The Cynth-O-Matic is the answer to this troubling problem. For 25 cents, you can actually have a piece of the artist.
(More photos and another of Von Behler’s package-related vending machines, after the fold…)
Another package-related vending-machine artwork by Von Behler, was her Andy Warhol-as-fortune-teller machine which dispensed Warhol aphorisms printed to look like Campbell’s Soup labels.
Beach Packaging Design