What is it Worth? is an instillation examining the process and product of textile manufacturing. From concept design to sales, thirty blankets, entitled Blanket (Product) were manufactured and each stage of production – weaving, cutting, sewing, finishing, and fulfillment – has been choreographed and filmed, entitled Blanket (Process) in an effort to view industrial production through a poetic perspective. Actions regularly preformed at Sew Co., the artist's own sewing manufacturing company, and The Oriole Mill, an artisanal weaving mill that houses Sew Co., inform the work from real-life experiences.
Industrial production of textiles has become ubiquitous to our lifestyles of consumption. The hand of the maker (who still exists even in a factory setting), the celebrated anomalies of making (which still occur on a machine), and the value of the object has diminished. In turn, we have a depleting environment, a deepening socioeconomic divide, and de-skilled domestic labor force. This small batch of thirty blankets hanging in the gallery adjacent to the video represent a microcosm of an industrially produced textile. The repetitive nature of their construction processes are endless, but their individual life stories are unique. As performers, they have been compelled to more ambitious and inefficient tasks than the average blanket, exposing them to deeper imbedded meaning. What is it Worth? connects, disconnects, reconnects, separates, builds up, breaks-down,floats, fumbles, balances, and flutters. It is up to the viewer, as a member of our culture, to define the meaning of this project and asses its relative worth. The blankets are for sale for a price determined by the viewers.
Viewers were presented with the following information:
and ask to respond to the following survey:
Do high-quality goods have a market in our disposable economy? Can consumers afford material investments? Do consumers want meaning imbedded in the things they buy? Is there balanced value exchanged for responsible, skilled, and artful processes?
142 survey results found that most viewers value of high-quality, domestic production through the lens of business managers. However, their budgets do not allow them to afford their own accessed amounts. Values must be compromised in order to survive. Quality must be sacrificed.
I recorded the viewer responses, threw out the wild outliers (below $50 and above $4000, and averaged the two pricing perspectives. As a business manager, viewers would price the blanket at an average of $344.76. As a consumer, viewers would pay $283.80. Originally, I assumed I would average these two figures to determine the sale price of the blankets. However, I chose to honor the consumer's budget in hopes that the blankets find owners who value their worth.