Erratum: the luxury brand mass producing objects that don't work.
by Oliver Wainwright
4 December 2012
From a holeless cheesegrater to a double-heeled stiletto, artist Jeremy Hutchison has created a range of dysfunctional products as a comment on global consumption.
A cheesegrater without any holes, a tennis racket with two heads and a golf club twisted into a loop are some of the items on sale at the surreal Erratum boutique, which opens at the Paradise Row gallery in London tomorrow.
The project is the work of artist Jeremy Hutchison, who has invited workers from factories across China, India, Poland, Turkey and Pakistan to insert an error into one of the everyday items they typically produce in bulk and send him their results.
The malformed objects have a disturbing, eerie quality, suggesting an alternative reality, a jarring aberration in the polished, homogenous world of mass-produced goods. They also hint at a possible form of artificial evolution, each mistake suggesting a potential success, a mutation that could evolve to serve a future race.
Hutchison was inspired by allegations last year about the working conditions in Apple's Foxconn factory, including a story from one worker who said he would deliberately drop a spanner on the floor so that he could have a few seconds of rest while picking it up.
"I became fascinated by this idea of an intentional human error to break the tedium of mass-production," says the artist. "I wanted to see what would happen if you commissioned this kind of intentional mistake into the smooth logic of a hyperefficient globalised machine."
Hutchison went online and discovered Alibaba, the global production portal, and began sending thousands of emails to manufacturers across the world, requesting a version of what they produced, rendered useless by a human error.
The resulting products, from leadless pencils to double-heeled stilettos, will go on sale as limited edition works in the luxury boutique, as well as via the Erratum online store – alongside photos of supermodels crashing down flights of stairs, as if following an encounter with one of the mutant objects.
"The endgame of luxury is when things slide into obsolescence: true luxury has no function," says Hutchison. "It is not something to be used or understood. It is a feeling: beyond sense, beyond logic, beyond utility. It is an ethic of perfect dysfunctionality."
Having launched the project in London, the hub of global consumption, he is keen to take it overseas, to China, Russia and India. "We're still used to this colonialist paradigm of things being made in China and consumed here," he says. But, as the copy of Vogue China resting on the gallery's coffee table suggests, "things are no longer quite that simple".