The bucket was on the move
This was the initial Wunderwall, and I’m still amazed that it was actually installed given the hurdles — often amusing — that hindered the installation. Everything from a box of images being mistakenly discarded to the realisation halfway through that it was going up in reverse order, meaning I was back to square one with an opening deadline looming. Thankfully, it all came good in the end.
The bucket on the move was concerned with consumerism and the environment, with the title coming from a chance sighting of a bucket blowing in the wind in a rural area. There was no one around and here was this plastic bucket. How did it get there? What effect would it have on wildlife? Was it discarded and did anyone care?
Wunderwall’s are also about memories and personal experiences, some shared. In some ways, you could argue that they’re a form of portraiture, a massive image of just some of the places discovered. Images connect to one another, which allows the viewer to follow threads including some unexpected links.
The bucket was on the move, 2008
Non-archival UV digital prints on foamboard
1,392 prints, each 15 x 20 cm
4.50 x 14.5 metres (height x width)
National Art School Gallery
21 February to 29 March 2008
Inaugural National Art School Artist In Residence program, 2007
An essay by curator Katie Dyer
David Wills’ photo-media based work examines the nature of consumer society and mass-consumption. His mass accumulation of photographs look at both images of luxury and the abject that make up our daily intake of visual information. These works make little concession to anything other than the information they report, however, he imposes a museum or scientific-like archiving system over them, called data sets, to imbue them with a significance and weight that might otherwise seem lacking. The photographs accrue incessantly, creating immediate records of people, products and information that ceaselessly travels between us communicating predetermined messages. The laws governing his archival system are initially enacted by chance and are often then ordered into taxonomic categories as though these items demand special classification, for examples mattresses (a series of the ubiquitous mattress discarded on the pavement) or corner shops (at the same time iconic and mundane images of these quintessential Australian buildings). Taken with a digital camera Wills’ has compiled thousands of photographs, starting from 2003, cataloguing them on his website Turnstile so that hours can be spent weaving between classifications that link ‘celebrities’ to ‘Melbourne’ to ‘bongs’.
Salad Days marks the first time the artist has shown work of this kind with data sets constructed within the exhibition space to form grids that relate to research he has undertaken on the price of acquiring everything that is promoted in women’s magazines within an editorial context. Leaving aside the direct advertising, Wills’ has tallied the costs of shoes, bags, clothes and make-up promoted as the ‘must-haves’ of the season, along with other research on the cost of petrol or fake Louis Vuitton bags. His images prove seductive just as they ask us to consider how complicit we are in endlessly participating in unnecessary consumption.