The bucket was on the move

The Bucket was on the Move is the initial Wunderwall. Its key themes concern consumerism and environment, both in terms of personal and shared. The first Wunderwall was installed at the National Art School Gallery as part of the Salad Days exhibition.

Salad Days brought together the work of four artists — me being one — who all were part of the National Art School’s inaugural Artists in Residence program. The other three were Justin Balmain, Deidre Brollo and Catherine Fox.

The bucket was on the move, 2008
Non-archival UV digital prints on foamboard
1,392 prints, each 20 x 15 cm
14.5 x 4.5 metres (width x height)
National Art School Gallery, Darlinghurst
February to March 2008

Salad Days by Katie Dyer

David Wills’ photo-media based work examines the nature of consumer society and mass-consumption. His mass accumulation of photographs look at both images of luxury and the abject that make up our daily intake of visual information. These works make little concession to anything other than the information they report, however, he imposes a museum or scientific-like archiving system over them, called data sets, to imbue them with a significance and weight that might otherwise seem lacking. The photographs accrue incessantly, creating immediate records of people, products and information that ceaselessly travels between us communicating predetermined messages. The laws governing his archival system are initially enacted by chance and are often then ordered into taxonomic categories as though these items demand special classification, for examples mattresses (a series of the ubiquitous mattress discarded on the pavement) or corner shops (at the same time iconic and mundane images of these quintessential Australian buildings). Taken with a digital camera Wills’ has compiled thousands of photographs, starting from 2003, cataloguing them on his website so that hours can be spent weaving between classifications that link ‘celebrities’ to ‘Melbourne’ to ‘bongs’.

Salad Days marks the first time the artist has shown work of this kind with data sets constructed within the exhibition space to form grids that relate to research he has undertaken on the price of acquiring everything that is promoted in women’s magazines within an editorial context. Leaving aside the direct advertising, Wills’ has tallied the costs of shoes, bags, clothes and make-up promoted as the ‘must-haves’ of the season, along with other research on the cost of petrol or fake Louis Vuitton bags. His images prove seductive just as they ask us to consider how complicit we are in endlessly participating in unnecessary consumption.