Author Archives: atrowbri

Raiders Of The Lost Crap

Raiders Of The Lost Crap

The second that Gary Reuter yanks up the green sliding metal door of a self-storage unit, the pack of hunters turns on its dozen flashlights.

There are 11 men and one woman, all around retirement age. Most wear canvas jackets or windbreakers, their heads topped with wool caps or wide-brimmed felt Western hats. They hold their industrial Black & Decker LED-beam flashlights over their heads and lean into the dark locker, like spelunkers peering into a cave. They bend to the left and right, moving around each other for a better view, taking care not to step over the concrete threshold of the doorway…


Why Do You Collect because i got to have all toys



Claes Oldenburg’s “The Ray Gun Wing”

Claes Oldenburg’s “The Ray Gun Wing” is a collection of items shaped like ray guns. The preceeding sentence is based on the phrase “ray gun” more than any other and assumes a passing knowledge of science fiction from 1898, with H.G. Wells’ “The Heat-Ray” in The War of the Worlds, to the use of the phrase in 1959 when Oldenburg made ‘”Empire” (“Papa”) Ray Gun,’ a ray gun soft sculpture. The concept of the ray gun is fictional, referencing weapons from science fiction cinema and literature. Oldenburg’s approach to the collection is similar to children choosing sticks, or any other object, on which to base pretend guns. The objects in “The Ray Gun Wing” are specifically ray guns.

“Empire” (“Papa”) Ray Gun. 1959. Casein on papier-mache over wire, 35 7/8 x 44 7/8 x 14 5/8″ (90.9 x 113.8 x 36.9 cm).

As Oldenburg uses it, “ray gun” is a semiotic experiment, an exercise in sensational pattern matching. The script of ray gun is applied to all objects. Like an artificial intelligence algorithm seeking out patterns, Oldenburg’s script treats everything as a ray gun and then provides a range of ray guns. Every ray gun is a ray gun but some are more ray gun than others. Yve-Alain Bois quotes Oldenburg in Formless A User’s Guide: “Examples: Legs, Sevens, Pistols, Arms, Phalli-Simple Ray Guns. Double Ray Guns: Cross, Airplanes, Absurd Ray Guns: Ice Cream Sodas. Complex Ray Guns: Chairs, Beds.” Bois explains:

“…Oldenburg made huge numbers of ray guns (in plaster, in papier-mache, in all kinds of materials, in fact), but he soon saw that he didn’t even need to make them: the world was full of ray guns. All one has to do is stoop to gather them from sidewalks…Even better he did not even need to collect them himself: he could ask his friends to bring them to him (he accepted or refused a find, based on purely subjective criteria).” (Bois, 176)

Was Oldenburg’s criteria for the potential ray guns brought by his friends purely subjective or was he running a more complex decision script that mimicked a certain subjectivity? The following mix of screen-written and computer script, including a reworked “for each” loop from a web log (Rich), is a fictional approach to a possible scenario for Oldenburg’s choices:

Selections from “The Ray Gun Wing”


	INT. STUDIO of Claes Oldenburg

Claes and Friend are standing face to face.
Friend hands Claes a roughly L-shaped object.

Here's another ray gun.

Claes looks down at the object before accepting it,
 considers it, then accepts it.

bool rayGun (acceptedObject) {

	/* Claes
		The acceptedObject must be compared against all ray guns
		 that Oldenburg has already accepted or collected.

array^ arr=gcnew array(all_existing_ray_guns);
for each (str i in arr) {

	/* Claes
		Is this ray gun outside the bounds of what we
		 can consider a ray gun?
	/* Claes
		Is this ray gun over-represented in
	/* Claes
		Is this ray gun a worthwhile exception?

	/* Claes
		Does this ray guy reinvent the entire concept of ray gun?

Thank you.


“The Ray Gun Wing”, which is a collections of results of the ray gun script and not a finished collection of all ray guns, represents a range that collectively describe a ray gun as it exists in the comparison part of the ray gun script. Oldenburg asks the viewers to go through the same process, or run the same script, as they view the ray guns in the collection. Ray guns come from plastic bits, gloves, tire pieces, mostly from things that were once something else. They are reduced to ray guns rather than built into ray guns. “The Ray Gun Wing” undoes the ray gun and defines “ray gun” as objects chosen to stretch this definition. Oldenburg insist in a multiplicity of ray guns or insists that everything could potentially become a ray gun.


Adam Trowbridge

Collection 4: 1000 Block, W. Arlington Street

This was shot quickly with a video camera as I went by on the way to lunch on Taylor street. I was not immediately happy with the results, the reflection and video glitches. I went by last week and considered re-taking the pictures but decided that these are an entirely accurate representation of my impression of walking by this collection. I am not interested in stopping for it, or any nick-nack window collection, and only notice them as quick visual impressions of kitsch as I pass by. Several of the stills I pulled make me ask “What is it?” and I have the same question of the collection. “What is it that this person is doing, what is it that drives one to set up ceramic kitsch in a window? What is it that has resulted in me needing to document it for a class?”
Overall projects 2, 3 and 4 have required me to break my routine and take up the routine of someone who is on foot, active in the city, someone who is engaged on a pedestrian level. I don’t like it at all. I limit my interactions with Chicago as much as possible, I took the train for a few months and gave it up when it took 50 min to go 3 miles. I live in Berwyn, in what is very close to a panoptic prison condo. I am an avowed suburbanite, happily cut off from my neighbors, an alien to my own community.

-a trowbridge

The Book of Lists

The Book of Lists refers to any one of a series of books compiled by best selling author Irving Wallace, his son David Wallechinsky, and daughter Amy Wallace.[1][2][3][4] Each book contains hundreds of lists (many accompanied by textual explanations) on unusual or esoteric topics, for example:

  • Famous people who died during sex
  • The world’s greatest libel suits
  • People suspected of being the real Jack the Ripper
  • Worst places to hitchhike
  • People misquoted by Ronald Reagan
  • Breeds of dogs which bite people the most, and the least

From Wikipedia


Dark Matter re: Sunday Painting

“Despite its invisibility and unknown constitution however, most of the universe, perhaps as much as ninety six percent of it consists of dark matter. This is a phenomenon sometimes called the “missing mass problem”.13 Like its astronomical cousin, creative dark matter also makes up the bulk of the artistic activity produced in our post-industrial society. However, this type of Dark matter is invisible primarily to those who lay claim to the management and interpretation of culture- the critics, art historians, collectors, dealers, curators and arts administrators. It includes informal practices such as home-crafts, makeshift memorials, Internet art galleries, amateur photography and pornography, Sunday-painters, self-published newsletters and fan-zines. Yet, just as the physical universe is dependent on its dark matter and energy, so too is the art world dependent on its shadow creativity. It needs this shadow activity in much the same way certain developing countries secretly depend on their dark or informal economies.14”

– Adam Trowbridge

Collection 3: Guns Guns Guns

I was interested in the toy stalls at Swap-o-Rama and the similarity of the items offered at each: car/trucks, figures, guns. I purchased a couple my first trip a week ago and a few more today. I supplemented the collection with similar cheap plastic guns by visiting other thrift/dollar stores later. This summer I had the opportunity to shoot a wide variety of pistols and rifles at a firing range in Georgia. These toy guns are very small but some are surprizing in their technical detail. Others are see-through and fantastical

– Adam Trowbridge