END-USER: Jason File, JonesSmithJohnson, Jonas Lund and Carey Young
6 October 2016 – 26 November 2016
Wednesday – Saturday, 12 – 6pm
Private view: Thursday 6, 6-9pm
The RYDER is pleased to present ‘End-User’, an exhibition of works by artists Jason File, JonesSmithJohnson, Jonas Lund and Carey Young exploring contract law and its far-reaching implications within our lives. .
On April 1, 2010, the UK retail shop Gamestation added a clause in their end-user agreement stating that users who placed an order on the aforementioned day agreed to irrevocably give their soul to the company, which 7,500 users agreed to. Similarly, a clause included in the license contract of the program PC Pitstop claimed that anybody who read the clause and contacted the company would receive a monetary award. It took four months and over 3,000 software downloads it was collected.
Our personal and public life is increasingly influenced by legal and corporate culture, end-user agreements being an integral part of new consumer technologies. These agreements are rarely read by users and we are given no choice but to agree to them if we want to enjoy the product we have purchased. Mostly presented to the user as a click-through process, these contractual agreements are ubiquitous in every download, installation or update of our devices and programs. Unlike most other legal agreements we enter into there is no possibility for negotiation and the terms are typically too complex to decipher properly without legal training. While we are usually presented with an abstract or introduction, the full length of these documents verges on the absurd.
With Conditions of Performance, Jason File presents a bureaucratic self-portrait consisting of all of the written agreements and terms and conditions which are in force and binding on him on the opening day of the exhibition. File offers a sharp commentary on the increasing extent to which our relationships with institutions are governed by formal legal language.
Jonas Lund also takes a direct approach, binding visitors in a contractual agreement at the very moment they gain entrance to the gallery. By creating this site-specific work for the exhibition, the artist faces the viewer with the actual restrictiveness of the terms of service agreements. With a humorous approach, Lund configures the agreement by including a number of terms such as agreeing to “respectfully talk about the show in a positive manner to all of your acquaintances that are asking about the show” or forcing the visitor to follow both the gallery and the artist on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
In Carey Young’s video Uncertain Contract, we see an actor interpret a script composed of legal terms from a commercial contract, the white backdrop of his rehearsal space referencing the ‘white cube’ of the gallery as well as the appearance of contractual documents. The specific terms of the contract have been omitted, leading to an ‘uncertain’ contract in which the meaning is open to interpretation.
JonesSmithJohnson’s interest lies in the ways in which our personal and public lives are increasingly conditioned by big corporations. In their work Hashtag, 2016, a range of end-user agreements are displayed with their text omitted – the redacted areas laser cut out and the resulting template overlaid over various backgrounds that have become synonymous with the soft end of our user experience.