Swamp thing

Matt Kenyon is taking on our culture. To do that, he’s become a human barcode scanner.

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Photograph by Deirdre Robert

Matt Kenyon is taking on our culture. To do that, he’s become a human barcode scanner

People do extreme things in the name of art. US mixed media artist Matthew Kenyon made a hole in his cheek through which a cable ran connected to a micro-camera in his mouth, turning himself into a human barcode scanner. As Kenyon trawled Wal-Mart and supermarket aisles, mouth open wide, he used a Nielsen Homescan barcode scanner (provided after he signed up to Nielsen’s voluntary self-profiling consumer system) to corrupt marketing data research and mess with consumer profiling. Now he’s in New Zealand. Watch out, The Warehouse.

Kenyon, currently resident at AUT University’s CoLab creative technology centre, is one half of digital media collective SWAMP (Studies of Work Atmospheres and Mass Production). With collaborator Doug Easterly, an associate professor at Victoria University’s Faculty of Architecture and Design, Kenyon creates works that critique and challenge popular culture, consumerism, mass marketing, global corporations and government. They represent a convergence of art and emerging technology, often with a satirical, ironic edge.

“We are taking on elements of our culture that are thought of as counter-creative, anti-creative, and exposing them as useful material for creative critique,” says Kenyon. He hopes SWAMP’S works will encourage people to “question the daily activities that we take for granted, these institutions of mass commerce consumption”.