val - u – ist- ic (val-yoo-is-tik) n. 1. Often pl. Something regarded as indicating or constituting the distinctive quality, character, disposition or worth of a commodity relative to an individual’s personal values or consumer policy. 2. Outward sign of one’s voluntary endorsement, compensatory or otherwise, of a particular code of consumption based on personal values. “I rock Louis Vuitton ‘cause I’m fresh like that.”, “I never wear any clothes sporting brand names.” 3. A visual statement of one’s consumer loyalties though pictographic (logotypical) means with the intention of social differentiation. Ex. Getting a tattoo of a Nike logo. 4. One’s specific code of prestige, rank and social standing, (and any inherent lack thereof) based on consumer habits. “It’s funny that her valuistics are contradictory: she eats vegetarian yet wears leather.”
For this installation I used the tools of familiar design and printing to produce a self-portrait of the choices I make as a consumer. Our consumer portrait reflects our values. The decisions, persuasions and loyalties that compose the portrait are represented by a swarm of product logos. They are what I refer to as “valuistics.” As an artist and participant in consumer culture, I am attempting to examine the political meaning of the consumer choices I make. I believe each of us of makes vastly more consumer choices than political ones, and yet each of these consumer choices has political consequences. Too often my own choices reflect expediency rather than being true to my political convictions.
For working with themes of self-branding, I chose a brand name house sheathing material that has a measurable effectiveness, a functional use value, and supple texture. Type R-4 insulation board is an engineered barrier between humans and the earthly environment we inhabit. The material serves the most basic human need (sustaining warmth) yet is only made possible on an industrial scale through the massive machinery of supply and demand, product and pricing, and is made according to the demands of both the waning new home market and remodeling market. To use this pink board is to situate oneself completely in the present and to literally leave something behind for the future to deal with. I hope that this insulation-installation follows the idea of valuistics into the future, where the inevitable outcomes of our current consumer lifestyle will only weigh on us more totally and tangibly as time goes on and change becomes imminent.
The form of the exhibition reflects my former home, a charming yet tumbledown pink rental house in Knoxville, Tennessee. Viewed from the inside-out, I have sought to systematically portray all of the consumer choices we made in our household in 2006. This is my valuistic home, where each consumer choice is labeled, like specimens in a museum case.
This installation has been exhibited at the University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery in Knoxville, TN, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Jacksonville, FL, and the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art in Cedar Falls, IA.