Paul Vanouse: Items 1-2,000

  • ©,



    Items 1-2,000


Creation Year:



    Interactive Installation


    3' x 3' x 6.5'



Artist Statement:

    Items 1-2,000 is an interactive multimedia installation with a performative component. The work collapses Western medicine’s fracturing of the body with industrial itemization techniques into a strange rationalization apparatus. A live human specimen is half submerged in a block of wax in a manner reminiscent of how biological specimens are fixed in a “microtome” (a machine that cuts specimens into thin slices). A sheet of glass hangs several inches above the figure. Bar codes affixed to this glass correspond to internal organ locations of the figure underneath.

    Participants interact with the coded form as anatomy students would a cadaver. A stainless steel bar code scanner is employed much like a scalpel, slicing horizontally across the figure to reveal the body’s interior on video monitors in the installation space. However, the more familiar uses of bar codes and scanning procedures, for example, groceries and books, are not lost, and this surgical role blurs with that of the cashier, commodifying and extracting value through denial of the body as whole. Certain scans access recollections of my own experience as a student in the anatomy morgue. These interleaved video clips, in their attempt to discover a point of empathy with the subject, address the de-humanization of the corpse as it is de-constructed and subsequently re-configured through dissection.