Atlanta, Georgia, January 24, 2017—Product Placement is a single immersive kinetic sculptural installation by Atlanta-based artist and educator Joseph Bigley at Eyedrum Art and Music Gallery. Consistent with Bigley’s use of his studio practice as a form of social commentary, this work is a response to consumerism and commercialism. Product Placement consists of evenly spaced rows of hanging and inverted Christmas trees. The choice of this specific object embodies a notion of commodification in its limited use, even though the trees take, on average, seven years to develop into market-worthy products.
The trees are connected to a motion sensor triggered by viewers entering the space. Once activated, the trees begin to swing at random intervals, moved by motors that are controlled by microprocessors. The motion and placement of the commercial products are not typical of their normal mode of interaction or growth, and pine needles shake off of the trees and form circular patterns on the floor. Incorporating the passage of time, the work rewards return visits as the trees shed their needles, resulting in bare stems and trunks, skeletons of sorts, that continue to swing in hapless and vulnerable memory of what once were living organisms.
For many years Bigley lived in western North Carolina, where the Christmas tree industry is prominent and thriving. The farms of the industry disturb the mountain landscape and result in surreal forests of perfect rows, a bizarre combination with the otherwise natural surroundings. The industry’s pesticides and fertilizers wash into water supplies of local residents, who have documented cases of cancer in children, as well as detrimental effects to the local river ecosystems. The time needed for these plants to grow versus the short amount of time that they are used has been a source of curiosity for the artist, and was the starting point for this project.
The opening reception for Product Placement takes place February 18, 6-11 pm; the exhibition is on view through March 4. A closing reception and artist talk are scheduled for March 4, 6-11 pm, with the artist talk to begin at 7 pm.
Eyedrum Art and Music Gallery is a nonprofit artist-run collective, based in Atlanta, that fosters the experimental and avant-garde across disciplines to create opportunities for dialogue, collaboration, and growth in the contemporary art community. For more information, please visit www.eyedrum.org or the artist’s website, www.joebigley.com.