A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter

Ralph Bernhardt, Writer

Image Credits: Caleb Larsen, (CalebLarsen.com)
Image Credits: Caleb Larsen, (CalebLarsen.com)

This black box by sculptor Caleb Larsen sold for over $17,500 in 2009. It is nothing but a plastic case and an ethernet plug. Titled “A Tool To Deceive And Slaughter”, this sculpture has had hundreds or thousands of owners over the last few years. Is it haunted? Is it valuable? Why doesn’t anyone keep it longer than a week?

The box contains a computer chip, and when connected to the Internet via an Ethernet cable, will automatically see if it currently auctioned on eBay. If not, it will put itself up for sale. Once the auction ends after a fixed period of time, the owner is contractually obligated to send it to the next buyer. This process continues forever. While it isn’t worth as much now ($7500, as of 9/29/15), this box made some people a hefty sum of money back in 2009. Originally sold for very little, some people made as much as $1000 from buying and selling it over a week. It’s a self-aware experiment to see just how high the price would rise.

The script is hosted on a server to allow for upgrades or modifications, and comes with a hefty set of rules. One seemed particularly interesting.

“12. Any failure to follow these terms without prior consent of Artist will forfeit the status of the Artwork as a legitimate work of art. The item will no longer be considered a genuine work by the Artist and any value associated with it will be reduced to its value as a material object and not a work of art.”

Browsing his site, you can tell that Caleb Larsen is an unusual artist. Other sculptures by him include “Donor Plaque”, where you could donate money to fund the production of a plaque with the names of those who donated money. The plaque was scaled, so your name became larger with every dollar you gave, and other names shrunk. It raised $168 in total.

Another sculpture, “Climate Controlled Environment” is a small thermodynamic heater in an enclosed box, that regulates a set temperature despite outside forces. “The Entire Contents of a Pen” takes a literal approach as a sketch that uses every last drop of ink available in a fountain pen.

If you want to see some interesting (and definitely unusual) pieces of art, you can visit his website at CalebLarsen.com.