CH25: Matt Kenyon
The artist using technology to comment on corporate America
Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, artist Matt Kenyon was equally inspired by the DIY punk aesthetic of the Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra and his seminal quote “Don’t hate the media—become the media” and Mark Pauline of Survival Research Laboratories. “He talked about using technology in non-utilitarian and creative ways, wrestling it away from specific industry intent,” says Kenyon, 38, of the latter.
A perfect synthesis of those influences courses through Kenyon’s latest series “Giant Pool of Money,” inspired by the recent financial collapse and bailout. One piece, a large champagne glass pyramid evoking Marie Antoinette-levels of opulence provides an “interesting diagram for the theory of trickledown economics”—but with a twist. The coin-operated project replaces viewers’ real currency with specially minted tokens that melt at body temperature. “They’re transported to the top of this pyramid where they’re selectively warmed and then right before your eyes the familiar form of money melts and trickles down, forming a kind of liquid metal monster from science fiction,” says Kenyon, who teaches game design and app development at the University of Michigan’s STAMP School of Art and Design.
It’s not just for spectacle. “By having people interact with it, and choose to feed it their money, it becomes a sort of lens for us to examine our individual stories and our collective stories—from Main Street to Wall Street.”
For more, read Kenyon's full CH25 profile.