Jeremy Hutchison

Review: Creative Review

Review: Creative Review

The Art of the Factory
by Eliza Williams
Published in Creative Review, June 2011.

For his new project, Err, artist Jeremy Hutchison contacted various factories around the world, and asked if one of their workers would produce an ‘incorrect’ version of the product they make every day: in doing so, the functional objects became artworks.

For his new project, Err, artist Jeremy Hutchison contacted various factories around the world, and asked if one of their workers would produce an ‘incorrect’ version of the product they make every day: in doing so, the functional objects became artworks.

“I asked them to make me one of their products, but to make it with an error,” Hutchison explains. “I specified that this error should render the object dysfunctional. And rather than my choosing the error, I wanted the factory worker who made it to choose what error to make. Whatever this worker chose to do, I would accept and pay for.”

“[Err is] about creating deliberate miscommunication,” continues Hutchison, “forging a moment of poetry within a hyper-efficient system of digital exchange. It’s about an invisible global workforce, and their connection to the relentless regurgitation of stuff. It’s about Duchamp and the readymade, but updated to exist within the context of today’s globalised economy. It’s about the rub between art and design, the mass-produced and unique, the functional and the dysfunctional.”

The resulting new products Hutchison received vary enormously. Some are simply objects that have been destroyed, such as the chair, from a factory in China. Others are more playful: a shovel with its handle inverted, a pipe with no space to stuff tobacco.

Hutchison has kept all of the correspondence with the factories as part of the project. As might be imagined, many of the initial emails express confusion. Shown below are two of the emails he received, including one with the apt enquiry, “are you joking, sir?”

Even more intriguing is some of Hutchison’s later correspondence regarding how the individual workers felt about the project. Lee Ming, the Chinese worker who destroyed the chair, is said to have initially tried to “destroy it with a big stone”, before using a cutting machine. The person writing to Hutchison on behalf of Lee Ming then reports that “the feeling is great he said after he cut the chair piece to piece”.