Skip navigation

CATALOGUE: Nothingness by Kate Armstrong

Explore the relationship between art and commerce in this online artwork.

Catalogue is an interactive net.art work that explores the mechanical and cultural forms that stem from online shopping. It uses the internet ordering systems of retailers, as well as image and description, to transform both the process of shopping and the act of buying. Unlike traditional catalogues, which match objects with 1:1 representation, Catalogue questions context and form by introducing disparate elements, such as fiction and the absurd. Divisions between “art” and “world” begin to blur as far-reaching aspects of e-commerce—from pop-up advertisements, shopping cart ordering, and the postal system to the items that can be ordered online—come into play in the operation of the work. Conceived as a détournement, Catalogue plays with the intersection of art and commerce and asks what it means to add artistic intention to everyday life.

The theme of nothingness was chosen for the spring catalogue in order to defamiliarize common structures found in online shops by substituting imaginary objects, states of being, and existential drama for regular items and marketing strategies.

Catalogue was produced during the Techlab digital media artist in residence program and is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.

About the Artist

Kate Armstrong is a writer and new media artist who has lived and worked in Canada, France, Japan, Scotland, and the United States. Her work has taken a variety of forms including fiction, essays, short films, net.art, and installation. Kate has extensive production experience in independent film and network television. She is a founder of the Event Foundation, a media arts organization based in New York, and Special Airplane, which hosts experimental net culture events in Vancouver, Canada. Her first book of essays, Crisis & Repetition: Essays on Art and Culture, was published by Michigan State University Press in 2002. Her net.art works have been exhibited internationally.

Image credit: Screen capture of Kate Armstrong's Catalogue.