We would like to offer you a flower

23 Oct

In this project, going on right now, people fax flowers to arbitrary numbers found on the internet. A map of places where faxes are sent and received will be on display for a couple of weeks, and is updated as more people participate.

Called “We Would Like to Offer You a Flower,” it asks us to think about how people relate through technology, and across huge distances. You’re using the internet to make a connection via another technology, the slightly out-of-date fax. The well-intentioned gesture of giving someone a flower gets distorted/abstracted when it’s so heavily mediated. It’s still harmless but it’s weird.

The artist is David Horvitz. He does a lot of projects involving mail. I participated in one last year — he had people photograph the sky where they were, write the location on it, and mail it to him, and he would mail back someone else’s photo of the sky. The photo I got was from Virginia. I liked the mysteriousness of not knowing anything about who took it. There were clues, especially the handwriting and color processing, that suggested certain things about him or her. But my assumptions or stereotypes about who would make things that looked that way were my own contributions to the photo, not the anonymous person’s. I made the photo what it was, reading into it, and I gave up a photo of mine for someone else to do the same to it.

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