Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Significant Objects

Significant Objects (SO) is/was an experiment that provides comprehensible and creative documentation to illustrate just how valuable stories can be when we sell objects like artwork. The people involved with SO hypothesized that they could quantify the impact of stories on the marketing of objects. They conscripted an impressive roster of writers (including a favourite of mine, Jonathan Lethem) to add narrative value to items selected from a second hand store and then sold on eBay.

In their first round, they purchased $128 worth of thrift shop items and sold them for over $3,600. In round two, $134 worth of items sold on eBay for $3,992. The combined resale prices were between 2700% and 2860% higher than the combined cost prices. Money raised from the sale of the objects went to the writers. More information is available on the experiments website: Click on “The Experiment” to get an overview of their process and a detailed analysis of their conclusions.

The point of this exercise is that very often buyers of art (especially those who do not buy art often) want to have something to say about the work they buy because when they put their work on display in their homes or offices they want to have something intelligent to say in response to the compliments it generates. They value being able to respond by saying such things as, “the artist told me that …” or “the inspiration of the work is an interesting story….” Having an insightful anecdote or two to tell admirers of art that they purchase provides a lot of the emotional benefit that comes from the purchase.

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