New essay up about Ben Schumacher for Dis Magazine
They say if you love something you should set it free, and if it loves you back it will return: enter Schumacher’s work with the trading sites eBay and Craigslist. For his 2010 JstChillin project the artist openly propositioned 3D modelers on Craigslist to digitally replicate installation images of his sculptures. To his surprise, a number of modelers returned his query with modeled designs for free. Some responses were stamped with watermarks and messages from their creators urging Schumacher to pay them to receive the watermark-free version of their 3D modeled image. Schumacher obliged, maintaining an archive of his own installation images, the free versions offered by Craigslist modelers, the watermarked versions and the un-watermarked versions given after payment. The result is a body of images that both seamlessly blend and bluntly differ in appearance, highlighting (in some instances) the possibility for flawless digital simulation and in others the unsettled artifacts of labor negotiations. As Schumacher has said about textual scholars, “What becomes apparent through the reading of printed variants of the original file is not only differences in the modes of production but the subjective behaviour of the authors of the variants who will the original file into existence.” Names like Luna, Christopher Perez, and Belartist appear prominently as fingerprints left by red-blooded creators at the helm of technology indifferently geared towards leveling all difference in digital versus real comparisons. It is a quiet, though conceptually effective gesture that Schumacher always returns his compensated 3D models to Google Warehouse, an offering made as repayment at the altar of digital collaboration.View it here.